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Broadcom brings 802.11ac to enterprise space

February 14, 2012 // Sylvie Barak

Broadcom brings 802.11ac to enterprise space

Broadcom is extending its push for 802.11ac (“5G WiFi”) into the enterprise and carrier space with the launch of its 3x3 BCM43460 system-on-chip (SoC), which it claims is three times faster and six times more power efficient than previous generation 802.11an devices.

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Enterprise networks are on the cusp of a new mobile computing era in which tablets and smartphones will be ubiquitous in the workplace, said Rajiv Ramaswami, executive vice president and general manager of Broadcoms Infrastructure and Networking Group, explaining why Broadcom wanted to specifically address the demand for Gigabit speeds in enterprise.

With increasing numbers of todays workforce unwired in terms of tablets, smartphones and notebooks, and with cloud networks and carrier access taking on more importance, Broadcom said it felt its lead in 802.11ac gave the firm an advantage over competitors still using older standards.

For example, bandwidth-intensive enterprise applications like video conferencing or customer relationship management would be noticeably enhanced, said Broadcom, with speeds that would rival Gigabit Ethernet or centralized wired Gigabit speed networks.

The 2.4/5 GHz single-chip MAC/PHY/Radio 40-nm BCM43460, sports Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology to double spectral efficiency and includes Broadcoms new explicit and implicit transmit beam-forming technology to extend range and coverage, as well as an airtime fairness feature built specifically with a dense environment of mixed speed Wi-Fi devices in mind.

With airtime fairness, instead of giving slow clients the same amount of access in terms of packet sending across the network, the system instead gives devices the same amount of time in which to send their packets, meaning faster devices will achieve more in the same time as slow ones, avoiding network clogging.

We believe this will be a very critical feature for infrastructure clients, said Broadcoms Mike Powell, a senior product manager of enterprise and wireless.

The new chip also includes advanced spectrum analysis features, which Broadcom says can combine in-depth RF analysis with real-time WLAN information for instant troubleshooting of performance problems.

This feature is critical to enterprise operators for deep monitoring of interference in the network, resulting in more reliable, consistent wireless service, said the firm in a statement.

It is also interoperable with legacy 802.11 technologies, said the firm.

With ever increasing numbers of employees bringing personal devices like smartphones and tablets into the workplace, Broadcom promised that its chips would provide better security, from industry standardized system support for WPA and WPA2, as well as hardware accelerated AES encryption/decryption TKIP and IEEE 802.1X.

BCM43460 also boasts integrated fastpath Unified Wireless Switching (UWS) and Unified Access Point (UAP) software for wireless LAN controllers, unified switches and access points.

The chip is already sampling to Broadcom customers and the firm said it will be starting volume production in the second half of 2012.


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