Intel accelerating the next era of wireless with Wi-Fi 7
- Intel intends to introduce Wi-Fi 7-certified products to the market in alignment with the Wi-Fi Alliance certification timeline (2023–2024)
- The characteristics of Wi-Fi 7 will improve upon and advance preceding Wi-Fi versions.
The wireless technology industry is always evolving, delivering improvements for network connectivity. In 2022, the Wi-Fi org announced that Wi-Fi certified 6 added enhancements to best deliver advanced use cases. Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E are optimally equipped to meet today’s connectivity demands and allow a steady rate of new product and service innovation.
Soon after that, Wi-Fi became the next possibility. In May 2022,Qualcomm Technologies sampled the world’s most scalable Wi-Fi 7 networking platform portfolio commercially available, with offerings ranging from 6 to 16 streams, for next-generation enterprise access points, high performance routers, and carrier gateways.
Now, Intel is also joining the next era of wireless technology. In a recent “State of Wireless Connectivity Briefing” on the future of wireless connectivity and what it means for the industry, Carlos Cordeiro, Intel Fellow & Wireless CTO, Client Computing Group, claims that the world will soon have technologies that will maximize the user experience.
According to Cordeiro, “unless we can really understand what the major trends driving that future, we cannot really develop the right technology, feature, capability, and solutions from a core technology point of view, all the way to the software and services.”
Before going into Wi-Fi 7, Intel undertook an exercise to determine the key trends in wireless technology for the upcoming decade, and they have identified:
- User access to massive data/compute power with ultra-fast speed/low latency.
- Context aware/predictive devices and networks (AI/SDN/Distributed NW)
- New human-machine interfaces (HMI) expansion. More video, gestures, and voice interaction.
- Large growth of cellular PWN + Wi-Fi delivers enterprise everywhere.
- New types of connected devices (e.g., smart glasses) become mainstream/essential.
Looking at their products and the entire industry, how does Intel help drive all this forward?
The goal of Intel’s wireless strategy is to provide the best PC platform connectivity available today. Additionally, Intel holds significant leadership positions in Wi-Fi standards and certification bodies, driving the larger ecosystem with their cutting-edge solutions and influencing Wi-Fi 7 and beyond.
“As we move to Wi-Fi 7, which builds upon 6E, you get an improved use of the 6 GHz spectrum, higher and better reliability, much lower latency, and we’re going to see a 5 Gbps or better in the solutions that are going to come into the market,” said Eric McLaughlin, VP, Client Computing Group & GM, Wireless Solutions Group at Intel.
Wi-Fi 7 is the next era in wireless
What’s new and what’s driving this Wi-Fi innovation?
- 320 MHz channels – There is less signal interference because the most common wireless transmission protocol bands are avoided.
- 4K-QAM – 4K QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) allows each signal to more densely incorporate larger amounts of data.
- Multi-Link Operation – Ensures high priority data get transmitted without delay.
- Multi-RU Puncturing – Wi-Fi 7 devices will be able to access other, unused portions of the same high-speed channel to enable very big channels (even if they are less than the maximum 320 MHz size.)
- Deterministic latency – Shares redundant or unique data to increase reliability with incredibly fast latencies.
According to Eric, these innovations not only contribute to better connectivity but also some of the previously listed megatrends. Take proximity detection and context awareness as examples.
“With 320 MHz channels, we’re likely to see new uses for Wi-Fi where you can do things like figure out if someone is in the room, how many people are there, and whether or not they’re moving or static. With the right technology, you can even determine whether or not someone is breathing,” explained Mclaughlin.
As with all prior Wi-Fi generations, Intel will continue to offer customers and enterprises market-leading connectivity solutions. Intel Wi-Fi 7 product development is on track and healthy. Intel is in line with the participation in all WFA Wi-Fi 7 plug-fest events. They also do private Wi-Fi 7 interop testing with key ecosystem partners.
Intel intends to introduce Wi-Fi 7-certified products to the market in alignment with the Wi-Fi Alliance certification timeline (2023–2024).
What this means for the “less mature” nations
Regardless of how inventive and exciting, this announcement is, the question is whether every country in the APAC region could relate to or experience this innovation given that some of these nations are “less mature” in this conversation.
According to Mclaughlin, a spectrum policy is needed in order to provide these kinds of solutions to these countries. “Whether they’re opening up for Wi-Fi or spectrum for cellular, that’s the foundation for any of these technologies to work. We could put a lot of products out there, but without those spectrum allocations, they can’t operate them,” he continued.
McLaughlin went on to say that he anticipates that some of these nations, which are still deciding on their spectrum policy, will continue to make these technologies available. “It may start in education, for instance, where you get the right technology in, Chromebooks in, wireless in, and you give these children and households the ability to have access to the education and information that they need,” he said in his conclusion.
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