Broadcom Unveils Next-Gen "5G Wi-Fi" Chips Capable Of Up To 1.3Gbps

Brad Chacos

Most of the hot new products you hear about this early in a new year come out of the desert at the CES electronics convention – which takes place next week – but Broadcom decided to kick things off early and unveil its new line of “5G Wi-Fi” chips based on the still-in-development 802.11ac standard. Yes, they push Wi-Fi faster and farther than before, and no, “5G” has nothing to do with cellular networks. It’s just Broadcom’s catchphrase for the fifth generation of Wi-Fi. But hey, marketing tricks aside, how do up to 1.3Gbps wireless speeds sound?

Only one of the four new chips – the PCI-e supported, three-stream BCM4360 – actually reaches that ridiculously fast speed. Two dual-stream chips, the BCM4352 (PCI-e) and BCM43526 (USB) deliver up to 867Mbps, while the single-stream BCM43516 tops out at 433Mbps, which still ain’t too shabby. All four use 80 MHz channel bandwidth. The USB products are targeted more for consumer electronics, while the PCI-e powered models were obviously designed with PC-related uses in mind.

Broadcom’s 5G chips use “beamforming” technology to target specific receivers with and increase the operational range of the signal. Plus, they’re based on a new 40nm manufacturing process, which makes them more energy efficient to boot.

So what could you use those faster speeds for? Why not let Broadcom itself tell you? From the company’s press release : “Broadcom's 5G WiFi dramatically improves the wireless range in the home, allowing consumers to watch HD-quality video from more devices, in more places, simultaneously. The increased speed enables consumers to download web content from a mobile device faster and quickly synch large files, such as videos, in a fraction of the time it would take on a similar 802.11n device.”

Broadcom will be showing off its 5G chips to potential partners and OEMs at CES next week.

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