Qualcomm’s innovative chip solutions for broadband

Semiconductor major Qualcomm has launched new chips with the focus on expanding broadband communications network capacity for connected land lines as well as for wireless Wi-Fi networks, at the Computex 2016.

With Video usage going to 60 percent of network traffic and user expectations of access to Internet everywhere, the San Diego based company has revealed GigaDSL chips that allows broadband operators to switch from older VDSL technology to faster wired Gigabit access technologies.

Also launched was a three-way radio chip to handle a variety Wi-Fi wireless data networking branches and a new QCA4012 chip which brings dual band Wi-Fi, enhanced security, low power, and a small size at a price point that best supports the development of connected devices.

Known as G.fast or GigaDSL, this technology mends the existing gap by implementing techniques like self far-end crosstalk cancellation and increased transmission bandwidth to improve channel utilization of existing POTS lines, with the QCO5700 and QCM5720 apllying these technologies to try and improve bandwidth for the last hundred meters. The new QCO5700 and QCM5720 chips can provide up to 1 Gbps broadband over existing telephone lines while still maintaining inter-operability with existing modems at carriers.

As a change from the previously launched chipsets, the new chipsets are fabricated with drop-in replacement for existing VDSL equipment, and are intended for use mainly at Asian ISPs that generally have an network composing of fiber entirely with the exception of POTS used in a building. The QCO5700 is designed for multiple dwelling deployments like apartment buildings, while QCM5720 is designed for customer premises equipment with both chipsets able to support up to 1Gbps while coexisting with existing services that may already be functioning on the POTS line.

As a part of their Ikanos acquisition, the company has made an entry into the wireline business with the focus being on solving capacity issues in long distance. Fiber deployment is ideally best, but it can not be practically achieved in case of old buildings or townships. Hence, in order to avoid a 10 Gbps connection running as a 100 Mbps connection due to the usage of POTS lines, it can be replaced by the new technology for the last few hundred meters depending upon channel conditions and run length.

Currently the top maker of mobile chips, the company made the announcement at the Computex trade show held in Taiwan yesterday. Qualcomm Atheros’ new chips are also capable of simplifying the shift for existing VDSL operators in markets such as South Korea and Japan.

“We’re in a never-ending pursuit of more network capacity,” said Mark Grodzinsky, senior director of product management at Qualcomm, in an interview with VentureBeat. “This is on both wired and wireless networks. This GigaDSL tech is very important for places that have already deployed VDSL. GigaDSL will be a big help.”

“These new products were launched with the idea of supporting Asian carriers so that they can be geared in advance to handle expected network traffic for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea and the 2020 Summer Olympics games in Japan,” added Grodzinsky.

Many clients of the company like Sumitomo Electronic, NEC, and Wave Electronics, have already initiated the building of products based on the new chips, with the GigaDSL chipsets beginning sampling in June.

Qualcomm has also announced an 802.11ac Tri-radio platform for home networks. The launch is intended to enhance the capacity of home Wi-Fi and optimize its usage for ensuring better consumer Wi-Fi experience. The new chips come packed with Wi-Fi features such as multi-user MIMO and Qualcomm Wi-Fi self-organizing networks into new mainstream home network routers.

The new chips for routers of the QCA9886 2×2 802.11ac radio combine two 5 GHz radios and one 2.4 GHz radio into a single product to provide more flexibility in a network. The router can dedicate a radio for older legacy devices and solve the issue of congestion on the network for newer devices.

“We have a massive amount of density in terms of devices connecting to the network. I have 16 devices in my home that are connected to the network. You may live in an apartment or a city block where the use of Wi-Fi is becoming a huge issue,” conveyed Grodzinsky on the 802.11ac Tri-radio platform launch.

Qualcomm Atheros is also offering two new network tri-radio platforms that can boost a Wi-Fi network to 2.2 gigabit-per-second capacity or even 3.1 gigabits-per-second. The new QCA9886 is already being provided as sample to vendors, and should be in routers in the near future.

The introduction of the QCA4012 allows dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity to complement the existing QCA4010 single-band solution, thus making the new chip well-suited for applications in interference-sensitive environments.

With increased computing performance, memory and advanced features while minimizing size, cost and power consumption the QCA4012 also integrates low-power Wi-Fi and a fully featured micro-control unit (MCU) in a single-chip solution hence providing design flexibility and rich development capabilities with a comprehensive set of hardware interfaces. The QCA401x solutions also include pre-integrated software support for Apple’s HomeKit and Google’s Weave in addition to the AllSeen Alliance’s AllJoyn software framework.

In addition, Qualcomm Technologies is providing developers with technical tools and community usage to aid in developing new and innovative solutions for the IoT and accelerate commercialization. Based on the QCA401x software development kit, cloud service providers such as Ayla, Exosite and IOTA Labs have developed solutions that include cloud agents, API interfaces and other tools to support integration with IoT clouds.

Alongside all the above launches, Qualcomm also revealed the Snapdragon Wear 1100 processor, which is a specific purpose-built processor in comparison to the general-purpose 2100, targeted at the fast growing wearables segments such as connected kid and elderly watches, fitness trackers, smart headsets, and wearable accessories. Snapdragon Wear 1100 is commercially available and shipping now.

Vina Krishan
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