Broadcom has announced that it will be bringing a new 802.11ac chip to the market for entry-level consumer devices. 802.11ac, commonly referred to as “5G Wi-Fi” because of its operation on the 5 GHz band, is the next iteration of wireless standards, and significantly increases the maximum throughput available over Wi-Fi.
Theoretical throughput of the new standard tops out at 1.3Gbps, but real world performance has been closer to 800Mbps. Still much faster than the current top speeds of 802.11n, 5G Wi-Fi has been largely unavailable despite the existence of several new 802.11ac equipped routers on the market. The problem to date -- which is really only a problem from an anxious consumer perspective, but par for the course by technology adoption standards -- is that even with a capable router, there are very few devices that have 5G chips to take advantage of the new specification.
Fortunately, that will all start to change soon, as Broadcom is one of the largest suppliers of Wi-Fi chips in the world and they say they already have companies sampling the chips for use in new devices. We should start to see lower-end smartphones, PCs, notebooks, and tablets equipped with the new BCM4229 chip in the second half of the year, Broadcom said in a press release Thursday.
The BCM4429 integrates the complete front-end, power amplifier (PA) and Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) into a single chip that in the previous generation were separate, allowing for low-cost, mass market implementation in a broad range of devices.
Have you gotten your hands on a 5G Wi-Fi device yet? Let us know about your experience in the comments.