Qualcomm Helps Push Wi-Fi 7 From Theory to Hardware
As wireless communication technology keeps propelling forward, Qualcomm’s newest release is representing a shift toward Wi-Fi 7.
The field of wireless communications is a dynamic and rapidly evolving one. In just the past two years alone, the industry has seen a plethora of new and transformative technologies roll out, including Wi-Fi 6 and 5G. Despite this, the field is showing no signs of slowing down.
Some differences between 5G and Wi-Fi 6. Image used courtesy of TechTarget
This week Qualcomm made headlines when they debuted their third-generation Networking Pro Series with support for Wi-Fi 7.
In this article, we'll look at Wi-Fi 7, its improvements, and the details of Qualcomm's newest release.
Shifting Towards Wi-Fi 7
As All About Circuits contributor Robert Keim describes in his technical article on the subject, Wi-Fi 7 is an exciting new technology that plans to improve on existing technologies such as Wi-Fi 6.
Formally known as IEEE 802.11be, Wi-Fi 7's goal is to define new features of 802.11 on bands between 1 and 7.125 GHz, with the primary objective of increasing peak throughput and data rates while reducing latency in wireless connections.
For this reason, Wi-Fi 7 aims to achieve a maximum throughput of at least 30 Gbps, with a maximum theoretical throughput of 46 Gbps. This throughput represents a maximum 4.8x improvement over Wi-Fi 6, whose maximum throughput is 9.6 Gbps.
Wi-Fi 7 introduces multi-link operation. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm
While more details are still being ironed out, it is speculated that this technology will achieve these data rates by using a 320 MHz channel width, 4096-QAM modulation, and access to additional spectrum resources from the 6 GHz band.
On top of this, a considerably revolutionary aspect of Wi-Fi 7 is its support for the multi-link operation. In this scheme, a connected device can alternate between either the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, or 6 GHz band in such a way as to always ensure maximum data rates while minimizing network congestion.
Qualcomm’s "Highest-performance" Wi-Fi 7 Platform
This week, Qualcomm made headlines in the wireless industry when it debuted its new commercial Wi-Fi 7 platform. Called the Wi-Fi 7 Networking Pro Series, the new platform is being called the "world's highest-performance Wi-Fi 7 network infrastructure platform" currently available.
To quantify this, Qualcomm claims that the new family can achieve a peak aggregate wireless capacity of 33 Gbps and point-to-point connections that exceed 10 Gbps. Further, Qualcomm states that the family supports several key features, including 320 MHz channels and multi-link support.
The new platform comes in four different flavors. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm
On a hardware level, the family consists of four unique offerings.
These offerings include:
- Qualcomm Networking Pro 1620: A quad-band, 16-stream device capable of achieving 33.1 Gbps peak capacity
- Qualcomm Networking Pro 1220: A tri-band, 12-stream, device capable of 21.6 Gbps peak wireless capacity
- Qualcomm Networking Pro 820: A quad-band, 8-stream device capable of 13.7 Gbps peak wireless capacity
- Qualcomm Networking Pro 620: A tri-band, 6-stream device capable of 10.8Gbps peak wireless capacity
Industry Impact—From Theory to Industry
By taking Wi-Fi 7 from theory to industry, Qualcomm is making huge strides in wireless communications.
What was once thought impossible is now being done in practice, as Qualcomm has created the hardware that supports wireless data rates up to 33.1 Gbps—a number that blows Wi-Fi 6 out of the water.
As the Wi-Fi 7 continues to evolve and roll out, Qualcomm is proving the technology's viability, which should serve as a huge catalyst for the industry.