HPE’s Aruba Networks is so far the first company to announce an enterprise-grade Wi-Fi 6E access point using the 6 GHz band. In other news, Intel is futureproofing next-gen laptops with the launch of its new 11th Gen Core Processors that support Wi-Fi 6E, at Computex 2021.
It seems Aruba Networks has pulled ahead of its competition with the introduction of what seems to be the industry’s first Wi-Fi 6E access point (AP) for enterprises. Owned wholly by Hewlett Packard Enterprises, the company last week launched 630 series of APs starting with AP 635 just over a year after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allowed the unlicensed use of 1200 MHz of spectrum within the 6 GHz band for wireless applications.
FCC’s sanction of 1200 MHz was and still is the biggest one yet in the last few decades, to enable vendors to loosen up the existing 2.4 GHz and 5GHz band, and experiment with and bring to the market enterprise as well as consumer-grade Wi-Fi products.
Back in April 2020, FCC Chairman Ajit PaiOpens a new window statedOpens a new window , â€œWiFi today carries more than half of the internet’s overall traffic, and offloading data to WiFi is critical to keeping our cellular networks from being simply overwhelmed. The coronavirus pandemic has really amplified, I think, how indispensable WiFi has become in our daily lives. Our homes have turned into our offices and our classrooms, testing the limits of our WiFi networks like never before.â€
FCC’s authorization for the 6 GHz band more than doubled the available spectrum, which increases the device capacity of the network and traffic over it, not to mention the speed of the connection to the network.
What is Wi-Fi 6E?
Wi-Fi Alliance, which owns the Wi-Fi trademark previously designated wireless standards as 802.11xx as a basis for networking products where â€˜xx’ represented each different generation. Since 2018, the non-profit organization started referring to standards as Wi-Fi generations 1â€“6 (802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac, and 802.11ax respectively) to ease understanding by the general public.
According to Cisco, Wi-Fi 6 is the next-generation standard developed for networking and electronic devices. Also called 802.11ax, the standard was developed specifically to address the growing number of devices globally, and to combine the mobility of wireless networking with high-speed access, a prerequisite for professionals and consumers alike.
Difference Between Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E
WiFi 6E builds on the existing WiFi 6 Standard. It extends all features of WiFi 6 and enables access to the 1200 GHz band that the FCC authorized last year. The â€˜E’ in Wi-Fi 6E stands for Extended.
Wi-Fi 6E is also used to classify those devices that are enabled with the 6 GHz extension.
Next-generation technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), 4k, 8K, etc., are expected to bring about a boom in the network requirements of users. For instance, there already are 10 billion IoT devices in 2021Opens a new window and will grow at the rate of 152,200 IoT devices per minute by 2025. The total number is expected to surge to over 25 billion by 2030.
Wi-Fi 6E is built to accommodate these and other consumer devices such as smartphones, computers, etc. And on the other hand, 8K transmission, AR/VR, etc., besides the fact that work has shifted remote, require a stable high-speed connection, which can be fulfilled by Wi-Fi 6 with its wider channels and Gigabit level speeds.
â€œThe standard builds on the strengths of 802.11ac while adding efficiency, flexibility, and scalability that allows new and existing networks increased speed and capacity with next-generation applications,â€ explained CiscoOpens a new window .
As such, the number of devices with Wi-Fi 6E will surge by more than 200% in the next two years, with 350 million devicesOpens a new window expected to enter the market in 2022.
IntelOpens a new window estimated that compared to Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 can:
- Increased speeds by 250%
- Reduce latency by 75%
Moreover, it features 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) for speed bursts, multi-user multiple input, multiple output (multi-user MIMO) for increased capacity, orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA) for low latencies for uplink and downlink traffic, thus making the connection more efficient, Target Wake Time (TWT) for power conservation, and the WPA3 security protocol.
Aruba’s Wi-Fi 6E Series 630 AP
Aruba Networks’ new AP635 is designed for enterprise use, supports a 3.9 Gbps maximum aggregate throughput and is released as a component of its edge automation solution Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform).
Mike KuehnOpens a new window , president at Astronics CSC, said, â€œConsumer appetite for ubiquitous wireless connectivity is limitless, whether at home or traveling the world. As a leading global provider of advanced technologies for the aerospace and defense industries â€“ including some of the largest major airlines in the world â€“ Aruba’s new Wi-Fi 6E AP gives us the ability to offer compelling and unique solutions that deliver a new, enhanced, and more secure wireless experience to our customers.â€
But in order to maintain interoperability, Aruba’s AP635 has a tri-band coverage. So besides the 6 GHz band, it will also feature the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands as well. Precisely, the 1200 MHz band for Wi-Fi 6E is between 5.925 and 7.125 GHz and can be utilized as seven 160 MHz Channels or fourteen 160 MHz channels. It also features power over ethernet (PoE) and two HPE Smart Rate Ethernet ports for â€œhitless failover from one port to another for both data and power.â€
Additionally, deployments can be administered and managed over the cloud, through controllers. It also has controllerless operation modes.
Wi-Fi 6E Usage
As of May 19, 2021, seventy countries have approved or are considering the approval of the 6 GHz band.
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Besides enterprises, universities & other academic/educational institutions, healthcare providers, airports, stadiums, one of the most anticipated areas of Wi-Fi 6 or 6E adoption is the consumer-focused smartphone. Presently, multiple smartphone manufacturers have implemented Wi-Fi 6E across their high-end devices. These include devices by Samsung, Xiaomi, Asus, Oppo, Vivo, Realme, and others.
Steve BrarOpens a new window , senior director of product marketing at Aruba Networks told ZK ResearchOpens a new window , â€œWi-Fi 6E is like a high-speed freeway that is not burdened by legacy technologies. It’s going to provide a lot of future-proofing and capacity for IoT and other types of devices.â€
The timeline of adoption across computers remains unclear for the industry although Intel may be making strides in the area.
Intel’s New 11th Gen Processors
Speaking to computers, the world’s largest chip manufacturer Intel yesterday announced the release of its 11th Gen Intel Core mobile U-series processors at Computex 2021 in Taipei, Taiwan yesterday, just weeks after the release of its 11th Gen Tiger Lake H- SeriesOpens a new window processors.
Both Intel Iris Xe graphics i7-1195G7 and i5-1155G7 are from the U- series and are the most powerful i7 and i5 processors respectively. The highest speed clocked by the i7-1195G7 on a single core is 5GHz on Turbo Boost max 3.0 with the base speed at 2.9 GHz. For i5-1155G7, the base speed is 2.5 GHz which touches 4.5 GHz on Turbo Boost.
The Santa Clara-based company is targeting â€˜thin-and-light’ Windows laptops with the two new processors. Plans for a wider rollout are already underway with 60 laptop designs (from Acer, ASUS, and HP) based on the 11th Gen processors expected by summer this year. Overall, Intel’s U- Series will be the basis of approximately 250 laptop designs by different original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Both of Intel’s new 11th Gen Core U- Series processors are capable and expected to give AMD a run for its money compared to Ryzen 4000 or even the 5000 series in terms of raw performance. However, Ryzen’s processors are much better equipped for performance-intensive applications such as gaming.
But that shouldn’t matter to Intel, whose primary market for the 11th Gen processors are content creators, which is why both processors support Wi-Fi 6/6E, while the upcoming laptops feature 5G M.2, a 5G modem for laptops. 5G M.2 or 5G Solution 5000 is one of Intel’s other innovations launched at Computex 2021.
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Chris WalkerOpens a new window , Intel corporate vice president, and general manager of Mobility Client Platforms saidOpens a new window , â€œwe know real-world performance and connectivity are vital to our partners and the people who rely on PCs every day, so we’re continuing that momentum with more platform capabilities and choice in the market with the launch of our first 5G product for PCs.â€
Overall, these two releases signal a good step ahead for enterprises and consumers alike. The evolution of Wi-Fi technology has proven to be a mainstay of networking offering mobility as the biggest advantage. Intel’s new processors with Wi-Fi 6/6E support, the new 5G modem, and collaborations with OEMs are also designed specifically to offer powerful networking without the need to be tied to a desk.
Having said that, Intel could’ve gone the extra mile and adopted specifications on par with the competitors, one of which is a 7 nm wafer (Intel’s 11th Gen U- Series Core is based on 10 nm). Laptops with Intel’s new processors will be available by the holiday season this year, while Aruba’s AP635 will be available in Q3 2021.