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Broadcom builds better backbone for WiFi

802.11ac second wave will speed WiFi, so you need kit that can cope

By Richard Chirgwin, 19 Nov 2015

Broadcom is getting ready for the arrival of 802.11ac Wave 2 in 2016, announcing a pair of chipsets for its OEMs.

The two new chips in its StrataXGS range bring 2.5 Gbps Ethernet over Cat 5e cable, so as companies roll out Wave 2 access points, they don't have to pull new Ethernet cables.

The BCM56160, targeting 24 and 48 port Ethernet form factors, adds 2.5 Gbps interfaces to switches pitched at the mixed wired/wireless enterprise, and supports extra 10 Gbps fibre Ethernet uplinks, while the BCM56060 targets all-wireless deployments, supporting 1/2.5 Gbps interfaces for access points and 10 Gbps uplinks.

Broadcom's director of product management Fred Olsson told The Register's networking desk the devices are both in sampling among OEMs, “so they will be arriving in products sometime towards the middle of next year”.

Getting the kind of performance 802.11ac Wave 2 environments will need goes beyond merely achieving 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port speeds, Olsson said.

The aggregation of traffic means port utilisation on the backplane and uplinks is very high, he explained, so the new chipsets also need bigger tables to maintain their forwarding capacity.

With the IEEE still working on the final spec for the 2.5 Gbps PHY interface, these chips – like any other in the market – are pre-standard devices that target the early adopters.

Olsson told The Register he believes the IEEE is making good progress on the standard, and the industry expectation is that it will get sign off during 2016.

Broadcom's announcement is here. ®

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