Qualcomm is launching two new gateway chips today, one IPQ and one Ikanos G.fast DSL part. Both are aimed at the same type of markets, essentially telco boxes and routers, but use different WAN technologies.
First is the evolutionary IPQ40x8/x9, an update to prior Wi-Fi router SoCs. The big news this time around is that the new family has two integrated 802.11ac Wave2 MU-MIMO 2×2 radios on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. This should significantly up the throughput and simultaneous user count for endpoints using this SoC, a good thing for all. Both of the radios can be set for 5GHz operation for use as an extender or a Wi-Fi based ISP home gateway. If that isn’t enough there is a paired LTE modem for a two chip LTE/cell home gateway for those carriers without wired last mile solutions.
All of this connectivity is pretty pointless without the power to back it up and Qualcomm has boosted the SoC there too. There are four ARM cores of unspecified but not bleeding edge design, they just need to shuffle packets and do a bit of compute for the odd feature implemented on the box. Not having a screen or GUI means a much less power-hungry core is more than up to the task. Four of these should be sufficient for the class of device the IPQ40x8/x9 goes in to.
As is the norm now this SoC has a GigE switch, USB3 ports, and PCIe presumably for the LTE radio or other WAN device. On top of all this there is SD and eMMC support so storage should not be a problem if your design has need for it. Since it comes in both normal and industrial temp packages, the IPQ40x8/x9 pair should have most of the market covered and bring it up to the latest standards too.
More interesting is a new pair of chips from the now part of Qualcomm but formerly known as Ikanos division. The two are the Vx686 for the customer side of the connection and the Velocity-5U single-port distribution unit for the telco side. As you have probably figured out, one side of a connection is not too useful and both ends require very differing silicon. Luckily both should be available soon, Q2 2016 is the plan.
The new bit that this brings to the table is gigabit capable DSL also known as G.fast. The Vx686 supports this new standard as well as the upcoming Vplus estensions and fallback to ADSL or older technologies if needed. This one SoC should have all your xDSL needs covered, the Velocity-5U should do the same for the telco box world as long as the connection is less than 100m. FTTCanoutsideyourhouse is a growing trend so that distance limit shouldn’t be a major problem in most areas.
Better yet the Vx686 has dual PCIe ports to connect nearly anything you want. Qualcomm is obviously pointing to their Wi-Fi radios as a nice fit but there is no reason to limit it to only Wi-Fi. Since the software suite provided supports dual-WAN capabilities, a device made with this chip could easily have an LTE failover part for mission critical apps. Dual-WAN is an under-supported and under-appreciated feature, lets hope it doesn’t remain so in the future.
So in the end, nothing earth shattering but both the IPQ and Ikanos products are delivering useful increases in bandwidth. Given the lack of use for greater CPU and now even GPU power in most modern devices, bandwidth seems to be the great bottleneck for most applications. The faster that can be addressed, even with evolutionary changes, the better we all are.S|A