Marvell to push wireless LANs to gigabit speeds with new chipset

The first products based on the chpset will arrive in mid-2013

Marvell's upcoming 8864 chipset for the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard can achieve gigabit speeds thanks to multiple antennas for reception and transmission, but wireless routers and access points based on the component won't arrive until the middle of next year.

While first-generation products based on the 802.11ac technology are now in stores, vendors are working on products that should make, for example, HD video distribution in homes run even smoother.

"The demonstrations we are doing today are north of 800M bps of UDP throughput sustained over the air, and we will further improve upon that and expect to approach real gigabit per second throughput," said Bart Giordano, director of product marketing at Marvell's Wireless unit.

The Marvell 8864 chipset increases performance by using four antennas to receive and four to send data, a configuration which is referred to as simply 4x4. Sending and receiving data using multiple antennas is possible thanks to a technology called MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output), which is already used in both Wi-Fi and LTE networks.

In addition to MIMO, Marvell's chipset also uses a technology called beamforming, which improves performance by aiming the signal at the receiver. The way Marvell has implemented beamforming means smartphones, tablets and laptops don't have to proactively support it to get the advantages.

The combination of multiple antennas with beamforming results in higher speeds, as well improved range and reliability. For users the improvements also mean longer battery life, because devices such as smartphones can "get on and off the air" faster, Giordano said.

To take full advantage of the 8864 chipset's capabilities, clients also have to have a 4x4 antenna configuration, but other clients will also see significant improvements, Giordano said.

The Marvell chipset will be used on a multitude of different products, including access points, routers, gateways, video bridges and set top boxes, the first of which will start shipping in the middle of next year.

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