The Wi-Fi Alliance announced the new Wi-Fi 6E terminology for 802.11ax operation in the 6 GHz band last month. At CES 2020, Broadcom announced a number of Wi-Fi 6E access point solutions. Today, Broadcom is announcing the BCM4389 client Wi-Fi 6E chipset. Consumers can expect to see the chipset in the next generation of high-end smartphones. We have already covered the advantages of Wi-Fi 6E in terms of lower latency, higher throughput, and the availability of more number of 160 MHz channels in our coverage of the Wi-Fi Alliance announcement at CES.
The BCM4389 builds upon Broadcom’s success with the BCM4375, which happens to be the currently leading client Wi-Fi 6 chipset in the smartphone market. In addition to the new 6 GHz support with tri-band simultaneous operation and 160 MHz channel support, the BCM4389 also brings in additional power efficiency, thanks to its 16nm process technology and architectural improvements.
The BCM4375 is a 28nm chipset with 2×2 2.4 GHz and 2×2 5 GHz support, while the new BCM4389 adds 2×2 6 GHz to the mix. The scanning radio accounts for the additional radio chain.
The Bluetooth 5.0 functionality has also received a boost with MIMO support. Broadcom claims that the new implementation can reduce pairing time by a factor of 2 and also alleviate glitching issues when connected to Wi-Fi at the same time (compared to the BCM4375). The icing on the cake is that the MIMO support works with implicit beamforming ensuring that legacy Bluetooth devices stand to benefit too.
Silicon vendors like Broadcom and Qualcomm have been finding it relative straightforward to add 6 GHz support to their existing 802.11ax product lines. Qualcomm has not yet publicly announced Wi-Fi 6E products, though they did talk a lot about being ready for it at their Wi-Fi 6 Day last year. Broadcom, though, seems to have taken the lead with public announcements. Thanks to silicon availability, device vendors should be able to easily push out Wi-Fi 6E support in their products once the FCC clearance is in place. For consumers, the power efficiency improvements along with tri-band simultaneous operation should be very welcome news.