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Test Gear: Cisco Aironet 1142 And Aruba AP125

Beamforming: The Best WiFi You’ve Never Seen

Ruckus' main competitor is the Cisco Aironet AIR-LAP1142N-A-K9 sitting alongside a Cisco 4402 controller running firmware As mentioned before, this is our one possible candidate for chip-based beamforming to compare against’s Ruckus’s antenna-based beamforming (BeamFlex). The curious thing is that Cisco ships the 1140 with beamforming disabled.

Like all dual-band access points, Cisco uses two radios here, one for 2.4 GHz and the other for 5 GHz. The 1142 attaches three antennas to each radio, utilizing a 2x3 transmit/receive array. Cisco’s beamforming uses two transmit antennas, so it follows that you can’t have beamforming and spatial multiplexing operating concurrently.

So, it’s curious that Cisco opts to prefer spatial multiplexing out of the box rather than its shiny new on-chip technology. Perhaps this is because the feature is so new that the company wants to ease into adoption. But could it have something to do with performance? We’ll see.

Comparing the architecture of the 1142 against the Ruckus 7962 is intriguing. I couldn’t dissect the Cisco unit, but I did find these photos in some online patent documentation.

We also tested with an Aruba AP125 access point and Aruba 3200 controller with firmware build 21611. There’s not much to report here. This is a standard issue, enterprise-class, dual-band access point with three antennas you’re never quite sure how to orient. The AP125 is pretty representative of “standard 802.11n,” and I view it here as a performance baseline for comparison against Cisco and Ruckus.

Rounding out the test platform, I used a Dell 620 notebook with the Broadcom NetXtreme 57XX Gigabit Ethernet controller as the server and a Lenovo X61 with an Intel 4965AGN adapter (driver version as the target client. The switch tying everything together was a 3Com 3CDSG10PWR OfficeConnect.

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