Qualcomm Introduces Atheros WCN3998 with 802.11ax, WPA3 and Bluetooth 5.1

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While multiple routers are already available with 802.11ax, Qualcomm now announces an 802.11ax network chip that can be used for mobile devices, the successor towards 802.11ac could double or even quadrupling performance compared to AC. The 6th gen WIFI technology combines the two and current 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies, and in theory, could achieve a proper 1.8 Gbit/s. 

The Qualcomm Atheros WCN3998 is compatible with the 802.11ax standard, it seems to be a serious improvement in capacity and range, doubles network throughput whilst offering to reduce power consumption by almost 67% on 802.11ax. Something else has surfaced in the press release though, there will be WPA3 support as well as Bluetooth 5.1. 

With WPA3 your WIFI connection in public networks will be better protected like vulnerabilities like krack (which was patched for Windows a long time ago already btw, so do not be worried). The standard over time will replace WPA2, a near-two decades-old security protocol that's built in to protect almost every wireless device today -- including phones, laptops, and the Internet of Things. WPA3 employs individualized data encryption, which scrambles the connection between each device on the network and the router, ensuring secrets are kept safe and sites that you visit haven't been manipulated. Another key improvement in WPA3 will protect against brute-force dictionary attacks, making it tougher for attackers near your Wi-Fi network to guess a list of possible passwords.

The new chip also adds support for Bluetooth 5.1, which should offer an improved range (nearly double) and adds the possibility to stream music to say multiple speakers at a time. All that at an audiophile quality level. BT 5.1 will also offer improved power savings. Back to 802.11ax, while the spec has not been finalized, Qualcomm is certain the chip will work with its own hardware in the future. The WCN3998 chip is intended for OEM's to be used in smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The Qualcomm Atheros WCN3998 is expected to begin sampling in Q2 2018

-- Qualcomm -- 

— Highly Integrated Solution Coupled with Key 802.11ax Features, Leading Edge Bluetooth Features, Advanced WPA3 Security Features and Proprietary Enhancements Delivers Unparalleled Performance, Security and Time-to-Market Advantages 

Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) through its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., today introduced the industry’s first integrated 2x2 802.11ax-ready solution for smartphones, tablets and notebooks, bringing the most critical features of 11ax to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in advance of full standardization and certification. The new Qualcomm Technologies’ WCN3998 solution for client devices will significantly increase security through support of the WPA3 security protocol, making Qualcomm the first company to implement advance security features in 11ax solutions. The WCN3998 will also enhance the Wi-Fi experience, by doubling the network throughput and reducing Wi-Fi power consumption by up to 67 percent, as compared to previous generation 11ac Wave-2 solutions.

The next generation 802.11ax standard is designed to improve the client user experience in two key ways: First, despite the congestion created by the exponential growth of Wi-Fi connected devices 11ax delivers higher throughput to each user, even in typical dense environments; Second, optimizing power consumption to enhance use time of battery operated devices. While the industry is navigating this significant standards transition, the WCN3998 solution offers OEMs a balanced pre-standard approach that is designed to fully leverage the capabilities of existing networks, avoid interoperability issues and provide the high-value 11ax features that address the real-world challenges of our customers, paving the way for a smooth transition when the 11ax certification program is available.

The WCN3998 features advanced 8x8 sounding, providing up to 2x increase in network capacity when compared to other devices only supporting 4x4 sounding. It can improve the connectivity experience for virtually all users, through its downlink MU-MIMO that is designed to allow multiple users to be simultaneously connected to an access point. Qualcomm Technologies has more than 1,500 device design wins for its MU-MIMO client solutions. Specific optimizations such as the Target Wait Time (TWT) and other power-saving features maximize sleep cycles and minimize contention resulting in up to 67 percent reduction in power consumption. Most importantly, the solution supports pre-draft 11ax Access Points (APs) that are targeted to be deployed in late 2018 and early 2019 and is designed to be fully backward compatible. It is designed to also provide throughput increases even with previous generation 11ac Wave-2 solutions, and it works with multi-vendor devices to provide a virtually seamless user experience.

Additionally, WCN3998 supports WPA3 encryption, the latest and most secure protocol announced by the Wi-Fi Alliance that provides robust protection of user passwords and stronger privacy in Wi-Fi networks. As both the intensity and sophistication of security attacks continue to rise today, this advanced security capability is critical in protecting the ever-increasing volume and sensitivity of data traffic on today’s networks. WPA3 encryption in the WCN3998 supports robust security protections even when users choose their Wi-Fi passwords that fall short of common complexity recommendations. These advanced security features are designed to enable consumers to use their smartphones to quickly configure their IoT devices to work on their home network. When using devices in public or open networks, users will also enjoy stronger data privacy protections, by receiving individual user encryption.

Beyond traditional Wi-Fi networking, today’s platforms are also increasingly differentiating on high quality audio and voice as a primary user interface. To intersect with these emerging needs, the Bluetooth core in WCN3998 has been completely re-engineered to support Bluetooth 5 and anticipate possible enhancements in the Bluetooth standard. When paired with a device based on the Qualcomm Technologies’ QCC5100 Low Power Bluetooth SoC, announced at CES 2018, it is designed to enable the next generation of “true wireless” Bluetooth headsets that eliminate wires, improve audio robustness and quality, improve the user experience, and improve battery life by up to 75 percent. The design supports Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), taking into consideration the ever increasing need for lower energy applications.

“Qualcomm Technologies continues to be in the forefront of smartphone connectivity with advanced and highly-integrated 802.11ax and audiophile-quality Bluetooth features as well as the latest in encryption technology, which allow our customers to offer differentiated solutions and accelerate time-to-market while reducing development cost and solution size,” said Dino Bekis, vice president and general manager, mobile / compute connectivity business, Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “The WCN3998 solves immediate real-world challenges and supports new applications with the right mix of advanced capabilities while helping our customers to effectively navigate the turbulent industry transition to broadly interoperable 802.11ax networks over the next two years.”

Qualcomm Introduces Atheros WCN3998 with 802.11ax, WPA3 and Bluetooth 5.1

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