Being the world's No. 1 supplier of notebook platforms, Intel must adopt the latest technologies as soon as possible to maintain this lead. In addition, one of the key selling points of laptops is a fast Wi-Fi connection, so adopting the latest tech version is crucial for the CPU giant. As it turns out, Intel is poised to support Wi-Fi 7 (opens in new tab) by its client PC platforms by 2024.
"We are currently developing Intel's Wi-Fi '802.11be' in order to obtain the 'Wi-Fi Alliance' certification, and it will be installed in PC products such as laptops by 2024," said Eric McLaughlin, vice president of Intel's wireless solutions division, at a press conference in South Korea, reports ET News (opens in new tab) (via The Register (opens in new tab)). "We expect it to appear in major markets in 2025."
Wi-Fi 7 (also known as IEEE 802.11be) will offer a maximum raw aggregated bitrate of 40,000 Mbit/s (40 Gbit/s), which will make wired Ethernet connections obsolete for most users. However, in most cases, client devices will support considerably slower connections.
But to get such a high bitrate, Wi-Fi 7 clients and access points will have to use three bands — 2.40 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz — and increase channel width to 320 MHz as well as add 4096-QAM. Meanwhile, since Wi-Fi 7 will rely on technologies its predecessors introduced, things like mandatory support for MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) and OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access) capabilities supported by Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E.
Given the significantly improved performance of Wi-Fi 7 over Wi-Fi 6/6E, Intel expects the technology to be adopted by bandwidth-hungry applications, such as augmented reality and virtual reality headsets that use Intel's WiGig (Wireless Gigabit) technology.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is expected to adopt the IEEE 802.11be specification only in 2025 formally, so some of its peculiarities might change. But interestingly, Intel looks at it with enthusiasm and expects the performance of the upcoming Wi-Fi 7 technology (or its own Wi-Fi 7 client chips) to improve by the time it rolls out commercially in 2024.
"Since there is more than a year left before the release of 802.11be, there is still a chance that we could improve the processing speed even further." Said McLaughlin.
For quite a while now, Intel has been one of the foremost advocates of Wi-Fi 7. So far, both Broadcom and Qualcomm have already announced their Wi-Fi 7 draft-compliant chips for access points and client devices.