Broadcom Now Sampling Second Wave of Wi-Fi 7 Chips
The new set of Wi-Fi 7 chips will appear in devices such as routers, gateways, and client devices.
In the ever-evolving and fast-paced field of wireless communications, it seems that new protocols are constantly emerging. Among these recent developments, Wi-Fi 7 stands out as a substantial step forward in terms of speed, capacity, and efficiency. With the potential for faster data transfer rates, Wi-Fi 7 is designed to meet the growing demands of an increasingly interconnected world.
Wi-Fi 7's 320-MHz channel bandwidths double the maximum speeds of existing Wi-Fi 6/6E. Image courtesy of Onsemi
This week, Broadcom announced the sample availability of three new Wi-Fi 7 chipset solutions, part of the company's second-generation Wi-Fi 7 solutions. In this piece, we’ll assess each of these three Wi-Fi 7 solutions to better understand their technology and the state of the Wi-Fi 7 field.
BCM6765: A Residential Wi-Fi 7 Chip
The first of Broadcom's three Wi-Fi 7 chips to enter sampling availability is the BCM6765.
The BCM6765 is described as a Wi-Fi 7 system-on-a-chip (SoC) intended to power a range of residential devices, including access points, routers, repeaters, and service providers. To support all of these applications, the device is designed as a low-power, compact solution that can also deliver multi-gigabit speeds.
At the heart of the BCM6765 is a powerful quad-core Arm v8 CPU that runs at 2.0 GHz. The compute is complemented by dual 2x2 radios that can operate across the 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz bands. To improve 2.4 GHz operation, the SoC also includes integrated 2.4 GHz power amplifiers and supports digital pre-distortion (DPD) external front-end modules (FEMs), which help to reduce power consumption.
From a communications perspective, the BCM6765 can achieve combined PHY rates of up to 8.64 Gbps and support a channel bandwidth of up to 320 MHz. It uses 4096-QAM modulation and supports multi-link operation (MLO) with up to three links when used with an external third radio.
BCM47722: An Enterprise Access Point Platform SoC
Next is the BCM47722, an advanced SoC communications processor designed with a focus on power efficiency and compactness, making it potentially useful for enterprise applications.
The three new Wi-Fi 7 offerings. Image (modified) courtesy of Broadcom
Also powered by a quad-core Arm v8 CPU, the BCM47722 comes with dual 802.11be 2x2 spatial stream 320 MHz WLAN radios, dual BLE/802.15.4 IOT radios, and an integrated 802.3-compliant, 10-Gb Ethernet PHY. Thanks to this abundance of RF hardware, the SoC supports a wide range of frequencies, including 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz, and is compatible with various IoT radios such as Bluetooth Low-Energy, Zigbee, Thread, and Matter protocols. Additionally, the SoC adheres to IEEE and WFA Wi-Fi 7 standards, as well as the Bluetooth 5.4 standard and future draft specifications like Channel Sounding.
Like the BCM6765, the BCM47722 is equipped with integrated 2.4 GHz power amplifiers and supports DPD external FEMs for reducing power consumption. It can achieve up to 8.64 Gbps PHY rate and up to 320 MHz channel bandwidth, thanks to its 4096-QAM modulation.
BCM4390: A Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5 Combo Chip for Mobile
The final of three new Wi-Fi 7 chips is the BCM4390. According to Broadcom, the BCM4390 has been specifically designed to meet the needs of mobile handset applications. To this end, the chip is meant to be a low-power, highly-integrated Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4 combo chip that balances performance, latency, power consumption, and size.
At the heart of the BCM4390 is a simultaneous dual-band 2x2 IEEE 802.11be-compliant radio. This, along with a dual-core Bluetooth 5.4 radio and a dedicated scan core, significantly enhances the operation of both Bluetooth and WLAN systems. The chip also supports 160-MHz-wide channels and 5/6GHz band support, and it uses 4K-QAM modulation to deliver high-speed data transmission.
One of the most notable features of the BCM4390 is its support for two-stream Wi-Fi 7. This, combined with its dual radio that supports simultaneous 2x2 2.4 GHz and 2x2 5/6 GHz operation, enables a PHY rate of 3.2 Gbps, making it a worthwhile candidate for high-speed applications.
The BCM4390 also integrates Bluetooth Classic and Low-Energy support, as well as Thread and Zigbee support. This makes it a versatile chip that can handle a wide range of wireless communication protocols. It also supports client multi-link operation (MLO), which can further enhance its performance.