At CES this year, Broadcom announced its Wave 2 802.11ac chipset, the BCM4366. It features a 4x4 MIMO configuration, USB 3.0, support for 160MHz channels and is slated for availability in Spring 2015. This latest announcement places Broadcom among the top high-speed wireless semiconductor companies offering the newest, advanced feature in the Wi-Fi industry – (Multi User) MU-MIMO. The other leading vendors are Quantenna , Qualcomm and Marvell, each of which have announced 4x4 MU-MIMO solutions targeted at the consumer router, gateway, and enterprise-grade access point markets.
The end user benefits associated with 802.11ac MU-MIMO include reduced latency and improved throughput, increased network capacity, higher traffic load capacity over the network, and the ability to support a higher number of simultaneous users. From a usage standpoint, MU-MIMO allows multiple spatial streams to be assigned to different clients simultaneously, increasing the total throughput and capacity of the WLAN system. Older, single user-MIMO (found in most legacy 802.11n and earlier devices) allowed for the transmission of multiple spatial streams at once, but to only one device at a time.
With these latest announcements, it is evident that Wave 2 of 802.11ac-enabled devices is taking off, and MU-MIMO will be a key feature in future announcements; and as these device shipments ramp up, which application will be the primary focus for MU-MIMO?
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