Broadcom Unveils WiFi 7 Chips for Access Points and Clients

We first noticed the new WiFi 7 (802.11be) standard in January 2022 with MediaTek demonstrating Filogic 802.11be processors, and later Qualcomm introduced the FastConnect 7800 WiFi 7 and Bluetooth 5.3 solution for wireless clients, but we hadn’t seen anything for the 7 point WiFi access yet.

Broadcom has now announced four Wi-Fi 7 chips for access points with the BCM67263, BCM6726, BCM43740 and BCM43720 up to 11.5 Gbps PHY throughput, plus the BCM4398 Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5 combo chip for mobile handsets with up to 6.05 Gbps of PHY throughput. We haven’t quite reached the theoretical 40+ Gbps PHY throughput for WiFi 7, but these solutions will more than double the speed of existing WiFi 6/6E solutions, while simultaneously delivering lower latency and an extended scope.

The BCM67263 and BCM6726 chips are designed for the residential Wi-Fi 7 access point market with the following key features:

  • Support for 4 streams of Wi-Fi 7
  • 4096-QAM modulation
  • Multi-link operation (MLO)
  • Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC)
  • Full compliance with IEEE and WFA Wi-Fi 7 specifications
  • BCM67263
    • Single radio supporting 6 GHz band
    • Up to 11.5 Gbps PHY throughput
    • Channel bandwidth up to 320 MHz
  • BCM6726
    • Single radio supporting 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz or 6 GHz bands
    • Up to 5.75 Gbps PHY throughput
    • Channel bandwidth up to 160 MHz

Both chips can be used in routers, residential gateways, Wi-Fi extenders, and Wi-Fi mesh setups.

The BCM43740 and BCM43720 are designed for the enterprise Wi-Fi access point market and offer the following features:

  • 4096-QAM modulation
  • Multi-link operation (MLO)
  • Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC)
  • Full compliance with IEEE and WFA Wi-Fi 7 specifications
  • Single radio supporting 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz or 6 GHz bands
  • BCM43740
    • Support for 4 streams of Wi-Fi 7
    • Up to 11.5 Gbps PHY throughput
    • Channel bandwidth up to 320 MHz
  • BCM43720
    • Support for 2 streams of Wi-Fi 7
    • Up to 2.88 Gbps PHY throughput
    • Channel bandwidth up to 160 MHz

These devices are optimized for use in corporate Wi-Fi hotspots. The only differences I can find between residential and enterprise chips are that the latter are also available in the -40°C to 85°C industrial temperature range, and the TKIP security protocol is not listed in business chips.

Neither of these chips is a full SoC, and instead would be connected via a PCIe interface to a processor such as the Broadcom BCM4916 Armv8 B53 quad-core processor with integrated 10G/5G/2.5G multi-Gig PHY, as shown in the diagram below. .

BCM4916 WiFi 7 Access Point with bcm27263 and bcm6726
Typical block diagram of a WiFi 7 access point

Note that BCM4916 is intended for “residential access point (AP) applications”. 10GbE networking was once reserved for enterprise networks, but with WiFi 7 and fiber plans up to 5Gbps (and soon 10Gbps), it may make sense to scale up as well. some home networks.

BCM4916 access point processor
Block diagram of the BCM4916 processor

Moving on to WiFi client chip 7. Broadcom BCM4398 Specification Highlights:

  • 2-stream Wi-Fi 7 support
  • 320 MHz channel bandwidth
  • 6.05 Gbps PHY throughput
  • 4096-QAM modulation
  • Multi-Client Link Operation (MLO)
  • Compliant with IEEE and WFA Wi-Fi 7 standards, as well as Bluetooth 5.2

Broadcom did not say when commercial devices based on their Wi-Fi chips will be available, but the company is currently testing its Wi-Fi 7 chips for early access partners and customers in the mobile, enterprise, service provider segments. and retail. We should probably expect the availability of S2 2022 since this is the target for Qualcomm FastConnect 7800.

More details can be found on the residential and enterprise access point chip product pages, as well as on the BCM4398 product page.

Via press release, Anandtech, and thanks to TLS for the tip.

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