Broadcom Switches Support Wave 2 Wi-Fi APs

The 802.11ac Wave 2 access points that are on the way are too fast for enterprise IT networks. Broadcom's 2.5G switches will be able to handle Wave 2's faster data rates.

Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading

November 23, 2015

2 Min Read
Broadcom Switches Support Wave 2 Wi-Fi APs

Broadcom has introduced a set of new Ethernet switch ICs to solve a problem that 802.11ac Wave 2 version poses for companies looking to upgrade their WiFi networks: Wave 2 is too fast for gigabit Ethernet networks.

Transmission speeds on Wave 1 equipment got to roughly 850 Mbit/s. Wave 2 will achieve 1.5 Gbit/s to 2.25 Gbit/s.

To deal with the faster throughputs enabled by the new Wave 2 access points, enterprise IT departments have three options: 1) double up on GigE cable, 2) go to 10 GigE, or 3) swap in edge switches that can support 2.5G.

Only the third option relieves IT departments from the expense and aggravation of having to pull new cable, which explains the general support for the creation of Ethernet standards for 2.5 Gbit/s and 5 Gbit/s. The standard is likely to be ratified in 2016.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) are among the vendors pushing for the creation of the new standard and creating products to support it. (See Vendors Split Over New Ethernet Specs.)

Want to know more about developments in Ethernet technology? Check out our dedicated Ethernet/IP channel here on Light Reading.

OEMs can use members of the BCM56160 family to build switch systems that continue to conform to the common 24- and 48-port system formats. A system based on this chip will have up to eight 2.5G ports, with most of the balance being 1G ports, which can be used to continue supporting wired connections to desktop terminals, VoIP phones and older APs. The chip also supports 10G interfaces for fiber uplinks that are commonly included in these products.

"You'll rarely have more than eight 2.5G APs in an area," Broadcom product manager Fred Olsson told Light Reading.

The new BCM56060 switch family is intended for use in products that connect primarily to access points, and therefore omits 1G Ethernet links entirely. The lack of 1G PHY makes it a smaller chip.

The BCM56060 and BCM56160 are currently sampling. The company will ramp up to production volumes in 2016. The PHY is currently available in pre-standard versions, with standard-compliant versions coming next year, once the standard is ratified.

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Brian Santo

Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading

Santo joined Light Reading on September 14, 2015, with a mission to turn the test & measurement and components sectors upside down and then see what falls out, photograph the debris and then write about it in a manner befitting his vast experience. That experience includes more than nine years at video and broadband industry publication CED, where he was editor-in-chief until May 2015. He previously worked as an analyst at SNL Kagan, as Technology Editor of Cable World and held various editorial roles at Electronic Engineering Times, IEEE Spectrum and Electronic News. Santo has also made and sold bedroom furniture, which is not directly relevant to his role at Light Reading but which has already earned him the nickname 'Cribmaster.'

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