Qualcomm develops new chips for Mu-Mimo networks

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Qualcomm has released a new suite of multi-user Mimo (Mu-Mimo) products that it said can triple network and device performance.

The company's Atheros subsidiary has developed the products, which are its first to offer 4-stream solutions for 802.11ac wireless networks. The three and four stream, single-chip products include Mu-Mimo, 256-QAM modulation, and explicit and implicit beamforming. 

Mu-Mimo works by optimising traffic on Wi-Fi networks, so long as the transmitter and the device can use the technology. On a standard Wi-Fi network, devices are connected sequentially with only one device sending and receiving information at a time, therefore using a small amount of network capacity. As more devices join the network, it can get clogged, leading to a drop in throughput and capacity, particularly if streaming media, or other high demand media is being used on the network. Mu-Mimo works by transmitting simultaneously to groups of clients, which uses the network capacity more efficiently.

Two new solutions for routers and gateways and an additional two for enterprise access point have been released. The first products will ship by the end of June 2014. 

Qualcomm has also built Mu-Mimo functionality into its Snapdragon 805 and 801 mobile processors, which were unveiled at Mobile World Congress.

Dan Rabinovitsj, Senior Vice President, Qualcomm Atheros, said: “Great connectivity is not just about increasing the absolute speed. It’s about making better use of network and airtime efficiency to support the growing number of connected devices, services and applications. After seven years of MU-MIMO development and testing, we’ve gained a deep understanding of real-world channel behavior with this advanced Wi-Fi technology in crowded environments."

According to Patrick Lo, CEO of hardware manufacturer Netgear, Qualcomm’s adoption of the technology is timely. He commented: “The ever-increasing number of connected devices in homes and businesses require sufficient bandwidth to provide the best experience for users. Mu-Mimo, as the next logical step in the 802.11ac evolution, fulfills this need.”