Qualcomm announces new super fast 60GHz Wi-Fi chips


Wi-Fi on mainstream smartphones is about to get a lot faster.

SanDiego-based chipmaker Qualcomm has announced four new 60GHz-capable Wi-Fi 802.11ay modems. Two of the chips, the QCA6421 and QCA6431, are destined for mobile devices. If history is any indication, Qualcomm will integrate the two modems into future processor chipsets it releases. Indeed, it’s possible we may even see one of the modems make its way into the company’s upcoming Snapdragon 855 system-on-a-chip.

Like the 5G technology Qualcomm is working on, 60GHz Wi-Fi is built on millimetre wave spectrum. The shortwave spectrum allows 60GHz to deliver theoretical average download speeds of 10 plus gigabits per second, as well as wire-equivalent latency. The latter benefit will be a major boon for use cases like augmented and virtual reality where 60GHz Wi-Fi is likely to enable headsets to go tetherless. Other applications that will benefit from 60Ghz Wi-Fi include high-definition video streaming and online gaming.

Besides speed and latency enhancements, 60GHz Wi-Fi promises improved battery life — thanks, somewhat unintuitively, to the fact that the chips are capable of downloading files faster than previous generation Wi-Fi technology — as well as a host of so-called Wi-Fi sensing technology. Qualcomm envisions scenarios in which manufacturers will be able to enable features like fall detection and gesture recognition using just the spectrum waves generated by 60GHz capable devices.

Of course, as with any networking technology, the promised benefits of 60GHz Wi-Fi will only materialize if there are there are routers capable of broadcasting Wi-Fi signal at 60GHz, which is where the other modems Qualcomm announced today come into play. QCA6438 and QCA6428 are designed for routers and related infrastructure. Facebook implemented the two chips as part of its ongoing Terragraph project.

According to the company, all four chips are available to customers starting now.

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