The company's Tuesday announcement of its Max WiFi 802.11ax device family unveiled three devices, two built with four stream architectures and one with two streams, instead of the eight stream maximum supported by the upcoming 802.11ax "high efficiency" standard.
Both Quantenna and Qualcomm have previously announced 802.11ax devices supporting 8 streams in 5 GHz and four in 2.4 GHz.
The BCM43684 and BCM43694 support four streams of 802.11ax, for use in residential access points and wireless routers and enterprise access points, respectively. Broadcom claims the devices are fully compliant with the draft IEEE 802.11ax standard, which won't be fully-baked until July 2019, if the current schedule holds.
Among 802.11ax features supported by the devices are 4.8 Gbps maximum link rate, 160 MHz channel bandwidth, 1024 QAM modulation, up and downlink OFDMA and MU-MIMO.
The third device is the BCM4375 2x2 smartphone combo chip that supports two spatial streams with a maximum 1.429 Gbps link rate. Other features include Bluetooth 5.0, RSDB (real simultaneous dual-band) amd 1024 QAM, OFDMA and MU-MIMO support.
All devices support downlink 802.11ax MU-MIMO in both 2.4 and 5 GHz, but do not support uplink MU-MIMO.
Broadcom thinks it has a better approach to 11ax with its 4x4 AP/router chips because they will allow lower cost designs preferred by service providers. The 4x4 approach will also enable "tri-band" 11ax routers with two 5 GHz radios without pushing costs beyond what the consumer market will bear for high-end routers / Wi-Fi Systems, which currently seems to be around $500.
The company also maintains that a tri-band 11ax product will have "more versatility and higher performance than a true 8x8 11ax solution", citing examples of dedicating a 5 GHz radio to backhaul in multi-node Wi-Fi Systems and using one 5 GHz radio for 11ax "greenfield" and the other for legacy STA support.
Broadcom is currently sampling Max WiFi with retail, enterprise, smartphone and carrier partners. Complimentary quotes from Aerohive, ASUS, D-Link, New H3C, Microsoft, NETGEAR, Sagecom Broadband, Technicolor and TP-Link were included in Broadcom's announcement.