Broadcom's 802.11ac Mobile Wi-Fi Chip Increases Throughput To 650 Mbps

Today, Broadcom announced a new wireless chip, BCM4358, that combines 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to deliver almost twice as much throughput compared to previous 802.11ac Wi-Fi chips in mobile devices and allegedly a 50 percent improvement in the potential interference with the Bluetooth connection.

Last-generation 802.11ac chips were offering 300-400 Mbps connections, and those were also a big step up over the older 150 Mbps 802.11n connections. The new Broadcom chip gets up to 650 Mbps throughput thanks to its 2x2 Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) connections.

"The combination of 5G WiFi and 2x2 MIMO unlocks the full potential of today's smartphones and tablets. These technologies are becoming de facto requirements for connectivity in high-end mobile devices," said David Recker, Broadcom Senior Director, Wireless Connectivity. "With the BCM4358 we are addressing critical multi-radio interference challenges while setting a new bar for performance that reflects Broadcom's continued commitment to be first to deliver the most powerful solutions in the market."

While such throughput doesn't feel like it's completely necessary today, it should be once more homes get 1 Gbps fiber Internet connections. When seen from that perspective, the 650 Mbps connections we're getting with this chip may actually not be quite enough. We probably need at least one more generation before all of our devices have Wi-Fi chips in them that hit speeds that are at least as fast as our fiber connections.

In the U.S., fiber installations seem to be picking up slowly but surely, while in other countries in Europe or Asia customers can already get such speeds from their Internet providers. So, buying phones that get faster Wi-Fi even today may prove useful faster than you think.

The new BCM4358 also comes with increased indoor accuracy and support for Android, Windows and Chrome OS, among other features:

867 Mbps PHY rate/80 MHz channel bandwidthEnhanced Wi-Fi and Bluetooth coexistence performanceLow power PCIe host interface for WLAN; UART for BluetoothCombines two 802.11ac streams at 80 MHz channel bandwidth via PCIe interfaceIntegrated Power Amplifier (PA), Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) and internal TR switchTransmit beamforming and Low Density Parity Check Codes (LDPC)High accuracy Round Trip Time (RTT) based on indoor location technologyBroadcom TurboQAM® implements the highest data rate in 2.4 GHzFirst to enable Angle-of-Arrival direction finding technology on smartphone

According to Broadcomm, the new 650 Mbps 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip is already in production and should be available in devices in Q3 2014.

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Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.