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Broadcom Switches Support Wave 2 Wi-Fi APs

Brian Santo
11/23/2015

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

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inkstainedwretch
inkstainedwretch
11/23/2015 | 3:03:35 PM
Re: Assume no issue in the home?
For enterprise customers, the higher rates could be useful right off the bat. Would home owners need the full speeds afforded by Wave 2? This is my guess: the benefits to the enterprise market will percolate into the residential market later. 
msilbey
msilbey
11/23/2015 | 1:17:18 PM
Assume no issue in the home?
I'm assuming that accommodating Wave 2 in the home isn't an issue. Is that right?
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