Wi-Fi 7 family of SoCs significantly boost throughput

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By Jean-Pierre Joosting

MaxLinear has announced the seventh generation of its Wi-Fi SoC targeting service provider gateways, Wi-Fi routers, and access points. The highly-integrated Wi-Fi 7 family of chips offers an industry-first single-SoC solution that delivers more than 70% higher tri-band throughput verses Wi-Fi 6. The chips are currently sampling to selected partners and MaxLinear-enabled products are expected in 2023.

“Our Wi-Fi 7 single-chip offering enables fast, robust, and reliable connectivity elevating the user experience,” said Will Torgerson, vice president and general manager, Broadband group for MaxLinear. “We help our partners reduce complexity, drive form-factor innovation, and spend less time designing next generation gateways, routers and access points.”

Wi-Fi 7 — also called Extremely High Throughput (EHT) — is one of the most significant Wi-Fi upgrades to date. Built on the IEEE 802.11be standard, it delivers 11.5 Gbps of peak throughput on the 6 GHz spectrum. This makes the throughput more than twice as fast as the previous generation, Wi-Fi 6. This increase is accomplished by doubling the bandwidth to 320 MHz and enhancing the modulation to 4096 QAM.

Making the untethered experience more robust, Multi-Link Operation (MLO) is another marquee Wi-Fi 7 feature which enables channel aggregation to deliver lower latency and higher throughput in congested environments.

“The number of Wi-Fi connected devices at home and at the office is skyrocketing and will continue to do so as we move to Wi-Fi 7 and its greater capacity, speed, and reliability. Wi-Fi 7 will enable a whole new level of connectivity for smart home applications such as the metaverse, security, and 24/7 elder monitoring,” said Chris Depuy, Technology Analyst at 650 Group. “Wi-Fi 7 represents one of the biggest improvements in the technology standard to date, taking full advantage of key throughput and reliability features such as Multi-Link Operation, 320 MHz in the 6 GHz band, and more.”

The MaxLinear Wi-Fi 7 advantages include:

Lower total system cost and development time: Single chip reduces total Bill of Material (BOM) and board complexity, with less time spent on thermal, mechanical, and PCB designs. Single chip also drives smaller form-factor which enables system integrators to build more elegant product designs.

Seamless, coordinated view of multi-bands for optimal MLO experience: Single chip has one coordinated view of data flows across multiple channels in dual- and tri-band configurations for faster recovery from retransmissions during interference. This improves link robustness and client efficiency, enables deterministic latency and higher throughput for demanding high-bandwidth applications in heavily congested environments like Multi-Dwelling Units.

Enhanced network efficiency with “On-the-fly MAC”: MaxLinear’s improved proprietary “on-the-fly MAC” architecture optimizes large and small packet scheduling and performance. It reduces the overheads in the data path and enables quick recovery from data retransmissions during interference.

Reduced dead spots with dedicated chain for ZWFDS: Provides seamless operations in DFS channels while adhering to stringent DFS (re)entry rules. Delivers uncompromised 4×4 range and performance reducing dead spots while offering best-in-class user experience.

When used with MaxLinear’s gateway and access products, AnyWAN™, the end product can be highly optimized to deliver unparalleled performance, maintaining quality of service end-to-end, and delivering line-rate throughputs inside and outside of the home.

The Wi-Fi 7 family consists of two chips, the MxL31712 and the MxL31708. The MxL31712 is targeted for premium segment 4×4 tri-band market targeting throughput up to 18.6 Gbps. The MxL31708 is targeted for mid- to high-range 4×4 dual-band market targeting throughput up to 17 Gbps.

Common features applicable to both chips include:

  1. Single chip WFA Wi-Fi 7 R1 certifiable
  2. Based on IEEE 802.11be (EHT); backward compliant to IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax
  3. Support Key Wi-Fi 7 features such as:
  4. Bandwidth up to 320MHz
  5. 4096 QAM modulation
  6. Multi-Link Operation (MLO)
  7. Multi Resource Unit (MRU)
  8. Dedicated antenna for Zero Wait DFS (ZWDFS)
  9. Enhanced Network Efficiency
  10. DPD
  11. Automatic Frequency Coordination (AFC) support
  12. Fully offloaded Wi-Fi traffic
  13. Coexistence support for PAN radios
  14. Interface(s): PCIe Gen4


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