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Julio Urquidi

News Editor
If you've been wondering whether Qualcomm would let Broadcom have the market for tri-radio routers all to itself, you now have the answer. Today at Computex 2016, the company announced its tri-radio 802.11ac platform.

Both are built around Qualcomm’s IPQ40x9 802.11ac SoC, introduced last October, which supplies a 2x2 2.4 GHz radio and one 2x2 5 GHz radio. The second 5 GHz radio can be added via PCIe, using either the 2x2 QCA9886 or 4x4 QCA9884.

Qualcomm's new platform should enable lower cost tri-radio designs than Broadcom's platform, which requires an external PCIe switch to add another port to the aging BCM4709 processor to support the third radio and has all radios as separate devices. But Qualcomm's platform requires the IPQ40x9 SoC to perform processing duties for the third radio, while each radio in Broadcom's solution has its own CPU. It also limits two of the radios to 2x2, while Broadcom's solution handles three or four stream devices for all radios.

The announcement makes no mention of an equivalent to Broadcom's "Smart Connect" automatic band-steering and load balancing technology. Instead, it implies a simpler design where the 2.4 GHz radio will be used to support older legacy wireless products and one of the 5 GHz radios can be used as a dedicated range extender or mesh wireless link. This could better position Qualcomm's platform as a more logical choice for the upcoming generation of multi-AP "mesh" architectures, like those from eero and Luma and newer entrants from Ignition Design Labs and Securify.

The new platforms support both MU-MIMO and Wi-Fi SON (Self-Organizing Networks), its technology for creating self-configuring and self-managed Wi-Fi networks, announced in January. Qualcomm also announced that Wi-Fi SON now supports its HomePlug AV2 powerline solutions, providing even more options for creating multi-AP networks.

The new devices are sampling now. Amped Wireless may be first to market with its ARTEMIS 2x2 MU-MIMO router that is using an IPQ4018. Qualcomm's announcement also contained quotes from ASUS, Linksys and TP-LINK.
 

microchip

Very Senior Member
Finally someone to stand up against Broadcom...
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
QCA is doing pretty well kicking BRCM's butt in MU-MIMO right now.
 

paraplu

Regular Contributor
BRCM chips are (still) included in most client devices (read: Apple/Samsung) and if that doesn't change QCA has little future. Maybe some future standardization could help but it's a standoff right now.
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
Interesting that they're using Quad Cortex-A7's vs. perhaps either Krait or Kyro as the main CPU...

(other than the A7 is positively tiny on the overall die, less than 4 square mm each @ 28nm geometry)
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
BRCM chips are (still) included in most client devices (read: Apple/Samsung) and if that doesn't change QCA has little future. Maybe some future standardization could help but it's a standoff right now.

Qualcomm is used in a fairly good number of routers and smartphones. They have a pretty good market share, I wouldn't worry about them.

Their current router SoC also seem to be ahead of BCM in terms of design and performance, especially at the CPU level.
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
QCOM has always had a very strong position in WAN chipsets...

ATH was a consistently strong player in a tight field with WiFi and Switches...

Two good things put together - one plus one equals three here - just took some time to get to market..

This all happened right at the start of 802.11ac Wave 1 - we're now starting to see what happens after that's all sorted...

No wonder Broadcom/Avago is considering leaving the market...
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
BRCM chips are (still) included in most client devices (read: Apple/Samsung) and if that doesn't change QCA has little future. Maybe some future standardization could help but it's a standoff right now.

That's staring to become less and less as QCOM integrates more and more into the SoC/App Processor to save power.... not just for bluetooth, but also for WiFi...
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
QCA is doing pretty well kicking BRCM's butt in MU-MIMO right now.

BRCM took the low-hanging fruit and won the Wave 1 game... and tried to extend it with their "X-Stream" thing - to some success

QCOM took the longer view - tossed out an 11ac Wave 1 chipset or two - but focused on the longer game with Wave 2...

That is why Qualcomm is ahead at the moment, and Broadcom is trying hard to catch up...

Broadcom can either step it up, or walk away... but don't forget for a minute that Qualcomm is pretty hard core when they throw their weight into a market segment.

We see the results now...
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
For some reason, Broadcom reminds me a lot of the Motorola of old, back to its M68K days.
 

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