CES 2012: Buffalo Onboard with 802.11ac, Demonstrates 800Mbps Transfers
January 11, 2012 9:43 PM
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Buffalo is at the forefront of 802.11ac product development
We all take 802.11n for granted these days. Everything from our smartphones to tablets to laptops to all-in-one PCs use the standard. 802.11n is rated at 4500Mbps, but in the real world the best routers offer speeds of anywhere from 140Mbps to 170Mbps.
Buffalo is one of the first to throw its support behind 802.11ac which offers theoretical bandwidth of 1.3Gbps. The company was showing off a working prototype of its first 802.11ac product at CES, and representatives for the company promise that production hardware will be in consumer hands by Christmas 2012.
The prototype on the show floor was operating at around 780Mbps to second to 800Mbps, well above the sub-200Mbps speeds seen in existing 802.11n networking products.
Buffalo's first 802.11ac product will be the AirStation WZR-1750H wireless router. In 802.11ac mode, the router will operate in the 5GHz spectrum. It can also fallback to 2.4GHz and offer backwards compatibility for 802.11a/g/n. Buffalo will also introduce the WLI-TX4-1300H media bridge which will plug into a network device's Ethernet port (Xbox 360, PS3, TVs, media streamers, etc.) to provide 802.11ac wireless access. Both the router and the bridge will include four GbE ports on the back.
“Buffalo has always been at the forefront of wireless technology, proven by the delivery of the first Draft G and Draft N wireless products to the market,” said Hajime Nakai, CEO of Buffalo Technology. “Delivering a cost-effective, high performance Wi-Fi solution that leverages the next generation 802.11ac technology is just part of Buffalo’s ongoing commitment to innovation, engineering excellence and enabling consumers to use current and future technology in the home and in the cloud.”
Although pricing has been locked in this far away from launch, Buffalo tells us that the AirStation router will be priced in the $200 to $220 range. The bridge will be slightly cheaper in the $180 range.
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RE: Best routers only do 140-170Mbps?
1/12/2012 5:27:44 PM
"Real world speeds, not theoretical speeds. The Buffalo 802.11ac router has a theoretical throughput of 1.3Gbps, but real world is around 800Mbps as shown."
Oh for fsck's sake. The issue is not "theoretical" vs "real world" speeds.
The issue is medium access. The data rate within an individual packet CAN be (with four antennas, 80MHz wide bands, and a high scattering environment) 1.3Gbps, but a LOT of the time no packets are being sent because the MAC (medium access protocol) requires that devices go silent to sense who gets to speak next.
This is inherent in the MAC design that has been chosen for 802.11, which is a distributed system rather than one based on a central controller handing out permission to broadcast to individual devices (as happens in, eg, the cell phone system or WiMax). Presumably at SOME point this decision will be overturned and we'll get either a more centralized algorithm or, alternatively, a distributed algorithm that works better (the buzz word here is cognitive radio). But so far it seems that all parties involved have been busy enough working on improving the PHY (eg the better error correcting codes in 802.11ac, or the beam-forming stuff) that they haven't had time to consider this.
802.11ac does have SOME features adopted from WiMax/cell phones whereby the available channel can be segmented so that multiple (but only a few) conversations can occur in parallel over the same wireless network. I've so far seen no technical details about how this is done. It looks like the sort of thing that requires a central co-ordinating arbitrator; and so it might possibly signal the start of a new philosophy regarding the 802.11ac MAC.
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