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MU-MIMO and Snapdragon 810/808: A Match Made in Mobile Heaven

MU-MIMO and Snapdragon

By now many news stories about Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) have surfaced – in case you haven’t heard, MU-MIMO is the groundbreaking VIVE™ 802.11ac Wi-Fi® technology that Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, recently released. You also may have heard about our new Snapdragon™ 810 and 808 processors, the next step in an exceptional mobile experience. But how exactly do they work together?

MU-MIMO and Snapdragon fit together in several ways: quite literally, the VIVE Wi-Fi radio is a functioning, integral part built into the new Snapdragon 810 and 808 platforms. Many premium smartphones and tablets will be able to take advantage of more efficient networks to achieve faster Wi-Fi downloads, uploads and streaming than ever before. When combined with other features like LTE-Advanced, RF360, Bluetooth® Smart and NFC, the Snapdragon 810 and 808 can provide superb  connectivity – whether mobile, local or proximal.

Snapdragon and MU-MIMO bring both sides together

Qualcomm Snapdragon

In order to take full advantage of MU-MIMO, the data transmitter (home network, hotspot, etc.) and receiver (phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) both need to be enabled with MU-MIMO. While legacy devices will benefit from a more efficient network, those with MU-MIMO and our powerful algorithms will get the most out of screaming speeds, less interference and low latency – three key factors in mobile experiences. Consumers are constantly demanding more data, meaning MU-MIMO and its incredible speed and efficiency will be a welcome solution for many.

MU-MIMO needs to be on both sides of the connection, but thankfully there’s no need to worry whether the chicken or egg will come first: Qualcomm has brought both to market at the same time.

Power efficiency and savings with MU-MIMO

Delivering data to clients faster means better power savings and impressive battery life: devices use their wireless radios for less time, which consumes less battery. To make mobile devices even more efficient, our 2-stream 11ac chip connects to the Snapdragon platforms via a special PCIe interface that allows for exceptionally low power consumption that doesn’t sacrifice performance.

Moving Mobile Forward

Qualcomm has a continued commitment to technology leadership and providing a time-to-market advantage. Our recent releases of MU-MIMO and new Snapdragon processors exemplify our strong commitment to innovation and give us a tremendous foundation to improve mobile experiences for years to come.

Multi-User MIMO is here: Revolutionary MU-MIMO Algorithms from Qualcomm Lead the Way

Today Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, is introducing the industry’s first complete family of 802.11ac solutions featuring multi-user MIMO, which revolutionizes the way Wi-Fi® networks operate and works wonders for connected devices at home, work and on the move. Enhanced with Qualcomm Atheros’ revolutionary algorithm-based technology, our VIVE™ solutions will offer up to three times more network capacity and optimize how Wi-Fi devices are served to maximize connectivity for everyone on a network.

Qualcomm MU-MIMO vs. Standard Wi-FiThe current Wi-Fi approach

Today’s Wi-Fi networks can only serve clients one at a time, while sharing a given amount of capacity. As more devices connect, everyone has to wait longer to be served which causes a drop in throughput. Bandwidth-hungry content like video can further burden things. On a network like this, streaming or video chatting can be like sitting in the driver’s seat at rush hour: you’ll get to your destination, but it’s going to take some time.

MU-MIMO to the rescue

MU-MIMO transmits data to groups of clients simultaneously, which not only multiplies network capacity but uses it more efficiently to speed up transmissions. Users get what they’re after faster and the network can handle many more devices this way.

To make MU-MIMO’s amazing benefits possible, devices on both sides of the connection need to be enabled. That’s why Qualcomm Atheros is providing MU-MIMO solutions for networking products as well as smartphones, tablets, computers, consumer electronics and even automobiles. With MU-MIMO, even your existing devices will experience better performance, because grouping MU devices will leave more free time for them.

Using MU-MIMO is like using the carpool lane: the Wi-Fi Highway doesn’t change, but grouping up with other users lets you go much faster while de-congesting the other lanes.

The next step in exceptional connectivity

Absolute speed is just one factor in excellent connectivity; smarter, more efficient use of network airtime is crucial too. With a growing number of devices, services and applications, Wi-Fi becomes ever more important – and more complex. We’ve spent over seven years developing and testing MU-MIMO, and have a deep understanding of how Wi-Fi behaves in the complicated real-world.

These insights led to our unique MU-MIMO algorithms that are designed to manage such complexity and better serve crowded networks. The algorithms on the networking side can dynamically adapt to changes in channel conditions, device movement and application requirements to maximize throughput and performance, and can work in tandem with technologies like the Qualcomm Internet Processor (IPQ) and StreamBoost™.

Qualcomm MU-MIMOMU-MIMO: Qualcomm Innovation

Qualcomm is a company of innovators striving to improve mobile experiences everywhere. MU-MIMO is the latest in a series of network innovations that can make a huge difference for devices. Combined with other imaginative solutions, we continue to blaze a trail of better performance for connected devices.

Announcing Qualcomm’s SmartBulb: Transforming the SmartHome


Qualcomm SmartBulbCAVEAT: In case you don’t read to the bottom, please note this was an April Fool’s post. While the technology discussed is possible, it doesn’t entirely exist – yet.

Here’s some exciting news: we have created a smart light bulb that is going to transform the SmartHome into something futuristic. Engineers and designers from many different SmartHome teams created the most advanced game-changer yet. When screwed in, our SmartBulb will make the home fun, safe and tuned to you – much like smart phones, you’ll have a hard time believing you lived without it.

Entertainment using the SmartBulb

Creating a lively atmosphere is where the SmartBulb really shines. Connected through Wi-Fi®, these bulbs will “sense” what music you’re playing nearby (or via your home’s AllPlay™ network), load an equalizer, and faintly pulse to the beat of the music. If you really want to get down, they have a “rage mode” activated by your smartphone that automatically designates some lights for color and mood setting and some for quick strobelight pulses.

When watching movies and TV, upcoming shows and films will contain data fed to your connected SmartHome network that automatically change your living room’s lights to adjust to what’s on screen. For example, if the protagonist is singing merrily in a meadow with bluebird skies, you’ll have subtly light blue surroundings; if your favorite space ship is on yellow alert, your SmartBulbs will pulse in rhythm to the warning signals on board the ship. Qualcomm’s SmartBulb will make for excellent entertainment.

Security with the SmartBulb

One of the many features in our SmartBulb is linking with your home security system to know when a potential intruder or security threat is present. When triggered, every light in the house will not only go on “red alert” and flash a bright red to warn those inside and out, but they will also flash the Morse code message “SOS.” This will be detectable by satellite imaging systems as well as police helicopters and drones, whose network will pick up on the signal for immediate response.

The SmartBulb Knows Behavior

If you have something like a fitness tracker or Toq™ smart watch, you know that wearables and quantifying your habits prove valuable. SmartBulbs will vastly improve your at-home habits.

Just think: you open your smart refrigerator and pull out some milk and leftover steamed veggies. Your kitchen lights pulse green before going back to their natural ambient glow, commending your healthy decision.

De-Lighted for the Future

When linked with your smart security system, these lights will also integrate with facial recognition and create user profiles. You can assign color profiles to each household member: green for you, blue for your partner, red and orange for your kids, and yellow for your dog and its smart collar. Soon you’ll know not only someone is at the door, but that it’s your daughter coming back from school or your dog waiting to be let in.

Okay, you may have realized this is amazing technology to be announcing on April 1st. Well, April Fool’s from the team at Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated – but all the ideas here aren’t complete myths. Everything outlined has the very real capability of existing in the near future thanks to technologies like Qualcomm Atheros’ low-power Wi-Fi, IPQ-enabled SmartHome, the AllJoyn network, and plenty of smart devices that are paving the way.

The Next Stage of Killer Social

Killer Gaming LogoAfter years of great times with a fantastic user base, the Killer Gaming/Qualcomm Atheros team has decided to merge their social networks under one name. Don’t worry, the same awesome Killer team is right where they’ve always been, nothing is changing internally – it’s how we reach out to you, our beloved user base, that is evolving.

Why we’re doing it

You may remember that Killer™ Gaming, part of Bigfoot Networks, was bought by Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm® Incorporated, in August, 2011. Since then we have continued to bring you great products and connectivity. As the integration progressed, the companies merged as one including our skilled staff and offices. It’s time to do the same with our social.

What does this mean for Killer™ fans?

The bottom line is: you’ll still be getting the same great content from the same people, it’s only the name and affiliation that’s changing. Killer Gaming and Qualcomm Atheros have long been the same group of people and the same company, and it’s time for them to have the same social profiles. You will still get all the goodies related to the world of gaming, networking, and screaming fast Internet.


We are aiming to integrate all Killer’s social profiles with those of Qualcomm Atheros by Monday, May 5th 2014. We would very much like to keep you as our fans, but we also understand if you choose to part ways. We won’t spam or force you, and will be as open as possible throughout the process. Until May 5th, we will continue our content as usual.

Who do I talk to if I have questions/concerns?

If you would like to know more or voice your opinion, you have a number of options: you can send Facebook messages to either Qualcomm Atheros or Killer NIC pages, write on our walls, or send us DM’s on Twitter. We will be glad to clear any concerns you may have, and absolutely want to make the best possible experience for our loyal fans.

Thank you for your patience, and we look forward to engaging with you as a unified group: Qualcomm Atheros.

Qualcomm’s Internet Processor (IPQ): Enabling the SmartHome with Mobile DNA and Networking Technology

The connected SmartHome is a popular concept, enabled through new technology, yet based on a common theme: use the brilliance of the modern era to make your life easier. Let technology do the hard work and make the user more comfortable and better connected. It was the idea that drove the smartphone revolution, and is now the foundation for the SmartHome. Just like Qualcomm® innovation has been (and continues to be) at the core of the smartphone, the Qualcomm Internet Processor (IPQ) will be the heart of the SmartHome.

Qualcomm's Internet Processor (IPQ)Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, has brought groundbreaking new technology to the market: a processor that ushers Qualcomm’s world-class mobile DNA into home and enterprise networks. It will inspire seamless integration between users’ lifestyles and the technology in their homes by combining Qualcomm’s mobile processing capabilities and advanced networking technologies to bring unprecedented experiences and applications to home (and business) networks.

Although current homes have approximately seven connected phones, tablets and TVs, the SmartHome of the future could have as many as 22 connected devices and sensors. Enabling the home’s router or gateway with greater multi-tasking capabilities will better support the growing number of connected devices, apps and services that make up the Internet of Everything.

Combining Qualcomm’s advanced processor with its packet processing engine to offload routing, storage and security functions, and key hardware and software support, the IPQ provides a solid foundation for whatever users (and their service providers) can throw at the home network. Its technical capabilities mean the IPQ is ready for next-gen ideas that aren’t predictable today. Though the future is uncertain, the IPQ is ready for it – and will enable device makers, service providers and app developers to dream up new ways to use the home network as a platform for new services.

Since the first moon landing, humanity has been dreaming of next-level technology that makes the home not just more futuristic, but a more connected place that does the hard work for us.

Small Cells vs. Cell-on-Wheels – A Comparison

As you may have heard, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, recently completed the second phase of a trial to test our UltraSON™ network of small cells in one of the toughest environments to connect: the garage at NASCAR’s Sprint Cup. The trial captured plenty of attention and interest, but we want to show you the palpable difference a smart, adaptable network of small cells can make in a complicated area.

First, let’s review the set-up. Directly before and during races, the raceway is a challenging environment for providing cell service to end users. Radio frequencies are hampered by constant change in an area packed with large vehicles that often reflect signals, while up to 5,000 mobile users (in the garage area alone) create immense data demand.

In the trial, Qualcomm Technologies, working with Sprint and Airspan, installed 31 small cell base stations in the garage to test density limits, measure network performance and quantify users’ mobile experiences. The performance of the small cells network was compared against cell-on-wheels (COW) networks, which are basically cell towers installed on trucks that are driven around sporting and other large-scale events to boost cellular capacity during the event when connectivity demand surges.

Now for the results. The theoretical numbers of what the technology is capable of in lab conditions and the actual speeds demonstrated in the field are often different. We know at major events and places requiring extra coverage the small cell network can deliver capacity gain over 40 times more than current traditional COW networks. Taking it a step further, we demonstrated real-time benefits that help address the 1000x data challenge. So with devices at the ready and earplugs in, the team remained connected, even next to the rumbling cars and flurries of wireless data that make up the Sprint NASCAR garage.

COW vs. Small Cell Network Efficiency

Comparison of capacity and coverage of COW vs. small cell network.

User experience was compared in three ways: with a commercial speed test, a mapping application and video streaming. These would adequately represent the majority of device usage at Phoenix International Raceway and similar, crowded high-interference locations. It should be noted that the COW network, its load, the local interference and user demands change constantly – the results will have fluctuations, and the difference of a team moving their truck or a crash on the track can vastly change network performance and demand.

Speed Test

The first test deployed used a popular online speed test. With the small cell network, the device achieved a lower ping, significantly increased upload speed and a download speed 3 to 7 times faster depending on the COW’s load. Throughout the trial, the small cell network was carrying over 200 Mbps of traffic.

Comparison - Speed Test - Small Cells vs. COW

Speed test comparing COW (left) and small cell network (right) showing vastly different ping and download speeds.

Mapping Application Test

The mapping application showed a clear difference between the small cells’ performance and that of the standard COW network. When attempting to view the race track, the phone connected to the small cell network had already zoomed in and rendered the location visible, whereas the device using the COW network was still struggling to provide even the roughest outline.

Comparison - Mapping Application - Small Cells vs. COW

The phone running on the small cell network (left) is almost done, whereas the COW-enabled phone (right) has barely begun.

Video Streaming Test

The third test produced similar results: when trying to play video, especially at a high quality setting, the device using the small cell network loaded and streamed it far more quickly, creating a more seamless experience.

Comparison - Surf Video - Small Cells vs. COW

The phone running on the small cell network (left) has already loaded the image and buffered the video enough to be several seconds in, while the COW phone hasn’t started yet.

Whatever the user is trying to load, the result is clear: there was a winner on the track that weekend, but in the garage the hyper-dense small cell network was the big winner of the second trial. The speeds achieved throughout the second phase of the trial on multiple devices and in different areas of the environment showed a consistent advantage over current solutions.

Qualcomm Atheros and RFaxis Collaborate on 3-Stream 11ac Solution with CMOS RF Front-End to Radically Reduce BOM Cost

Yongxi Qian is Vice President of Marketing and Application Engineering at RFaxis, Inc.

Qualcomm RFaxis CollaborationQualcomm Atheros, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Technologies Inc., has recently collaborated with RFaxis Inc., a fabless semiconductor company focused on developing innovative, next-generation RF solutions for the wireless connectivity and cellular mobility markets. 

The 3×3 MIMO 802.11ac PCIe reference design platform features Qualcomm’s  QCA9880 3-stream 11ac radio solution that provides Gigabit-capable Wi-Fi® for routers, carrier gateways, set-top boxes and enterprise access points (APs). The RF front-end of this new PCIe reference design uses RFaxis’ RFX8051, an industry-leading bulk-CMOS based 5GHz 11ac RF Front-end Integrated Circuit (RFeIC), developed at RFaxis. 

As the Wi-Fi market rapidly migrates from 802.11n to the latest 11ac standard to gain improved data rates and other new features, the RF front-end has become an ever-increasing bottleneck, not only for its critical role in creating a robust RF link with excellent range and sensitivity, but also for the skyrocketing Bill of Materials (BOM) cost with traditional RF solutions.

Currently, equipment makers require three or more RF front-ends for each product in order to implement high-order 3×3 or 4×4 MIMO systems. By replacing expensive GaAs (gallium arsenide) or SiGe (silicon-germanium) front-end modules (FEMs) with pure CMOS-based RFeICs from RFaxis, Qualcomm Atheros customers can now implement and provide high-performance 11ac products that deliver seamless Gigabit-equivalent Wi-Fi capability at a significantly lower BOM cost.

By using a mainstream bulk CMOS process, RFaxis’ world-class engineers are also able to reduce the lead time significantly to eliminate a major supply-chain issue that has long plagued the RF industry.

The RFX8051 provides complete RF front-end functionality for 5GHz 802.11ac operation, including a high-efficiency linear power amplifier (PA), a low noise amplifier (LNA), a transmit/receive antenna switch, a directional-coupler-based power detector, harmonic filters and associated RF matching and decoupling.

The RFX8051 is pin-compatible with RF front-end modules offered by incumbent vendors and is currently shipping in high volume. Qualcomm Atheros and RFaxis both look forward to bringing increased functionality and efficiency to the market together.

RFaxis Logo

Qualcomm Transforms NASCAR Garage with First Hyper-Dense Small Cell Network and Sprint

In a venue that is all about speed, fans expect the fastest experience possible. That’s why Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, spent this past weekend at Phoenix International Raceway demonstrating its second phase trial of a hyper-dense small cell network, cooperating with Sprint and NASCAR® to connect one of the toughest environments around.

NASCAR cars entering small cell garage

The NASCAR stock cars enter the garage connected with Qualcomm small cell technology.

The raceway (and, specifically, the garage area) is an ideal venue to conduct a small cell trial: 43 teams rely on real-time data relayed between the car, pit, garage and their home base – usually in North Carolina; these radio frequencies are hampered by an ever-changing environment packed with large vehicles that often reflect signals, as well as the crush of up to 5,000 mobile users in the garage area, with their own data demands. Staying connected – especially at the fast speeds that are demanded – is no easy task.

NASCAR Cars in Qualcomm Small Cell Connected Garage at Phoenix Raceway

The stock cars get analyzed and the data uploaded from the garage at Phoenix International Raceway.

To address this challenge, Qualcomm Technologies installed 31 small cell base stations in the garage to test density limits, measure network performance improvements and quantify users’ mobile experiences. This hyper-dense network demonstration, built with Airspan’s AirSynergy 2000 LTE Advanced Pico Base Stations, is connected by Qualcomm Technologies’ small cell chipsets and UltraSON™ (Self Organizing Network) technology. The hyper-dense network has an equivalent density of 1000 cells per square kilometer operating on Sprint’s band 41 LTE-TDD spectrum.

Qualcomm small cell on garage

A Qualcomm-enabled small cell on top of the NASCAR garage near the race tower.

In preparation for the anticipated 1000x increase in mobile data traffic this decade, Qualcomm Technologies is leading the charge to maximize the efficiency of limited spectrum. In its Phase 1 trial at Phoenix International Raceway in November of 2013, Qualcomm Technologies showcased its UltraSON technology’s ability to improve wireless performance and quality of service in hyper-dense small cell networks, while significantly reducing network load. In phase 2, Qualcomm Technologies plans to demonstrate significant capacity gains resulting in  robust user experiences across the whole trial area. We are ready for the 1000x data challenge, and tackling the toughest places first.

A Small Cell on the NASCAR GarageWhile traditional macro cell towers are good at providing wide area coverage, small cell deployment is designed to offer a more cost-effective solution to deliver high levels of mobile data capacity in both indoor and outdoor venues, with the added benefit of enhanced performance in areas of dense usage –a busy NASCAR garage being the ultimate example. 

It was a thrilling weekend for many speedy reasons, but we were most excited to see the next phase of small cells come together and deliver data quickly and reliably in such a demanding environment. After all, if small cells can address data demand in the bustling garage at NASCAR, they can help improve performance anywhere.

Sprint NASCAR Crowd in Phoenix

That’s a lot of mobile data demand! Thousands in the grandstands look on as the stock cars scream by.

Passpoint: Making Public Wi-Fi Easy as Pie

Passpoint Wi-FiThe Public Wi-Fi Frustration

It happens to all of us: sitting in a coffee shop, mall, or busy public place and scanning through dozens of Wi-Fi® networks to connect to. It’s often difficult since most are secured or look unsafe. You might have an account with one of the local business venues nearby, if you could only remember your login…

Passpoint™ is a new approach in Wi-Fi that aims to improve all that. After all, wouldn’t it be so much better if your devices could identify trustworthy networks in public areas and connect to them automatically? What if it were just as easy to connect as when you step inside your home?

Passpoint: A Revolutionary Approach

The Wi-Fi Alliance® and Wireless Broadband Alliance are aiming to make connecting care-free with Passpoint “Hotspot 2.0” technology. They are working to take Wi-Fi hotspot access to a new level by streamlining network selection, authentication, and provisioning for wireless devices. In layman’s terms, you’ll be able to connect simply and securely to a Wi-Fi network away from home and even roam and switch between networks when you’re on the move.

During Mobile World Congress 2014 these two alliances are holding a Next Generation Hotspot Wi-Fi roaming demonstration along with 17 operators, which features commercially available Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint equipment. MWC attendees who come by the Carrier Wi-Fi Summit, where the demo is being hosted, can get hands on with the Wi-Fi Passpoint products provided by a number of device manufacturers.

Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, has long been a Passpoint supporter and is actively working with the Wi-Fi Alliance and our partners to evolve capabilities and grow adoption of Passpoint technology and products.

Just think: logging into a public Wi-Fi network could soon be as easy as walking in the door.


Passpoint Demo MWC 2014

Some quick shots of how easy it is to use Passpoint from their demo at Mobile World Congress 2014.

Win a StreamBoost™-Enabled Router and More in the #bornmobile Sweepstakes!

Qualcomm #bornmobile MWC 2014 Sweepstakes featuring StreamBoostWe know a huge part of what makes Qualcomm® successful is its community (that’s you!). So while we’re busy at Mobile World Congress announcing key collaborations and better enterprise connectivity, we also want to give back. The Qualcomm family is excited to offer you a number of fantastic prizes in our #bornmobile sweepstakes, including a top-of-the-line router featuring VIVE™ 11ac StreamBoost™ technology.

Just in case you haven’t read about what makes StreamBoost so great, here’s a quick refresher on its numerous benefits for connectivity, Wi-Fi®, and home network performance:

So, ready to blaze the Internet at lightning speeds? Great – enter the #bornmobile sweepstakes and you could get a hyper-smart StreamBoost-enabled router as well as a new smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch.

All you have to do is follow Qualcomm on Twitter and tweet with the #bornmobile hashtag saying what you would love about having a new StreamBoost-enabled router. It’s that easy!

The sweepstakes is running February 24 to 27, 2014, and is open to US-residents only. Be sure to read the complete terms and conditions for all the details: www.qualcomm.com/mwc-terms.

Good luck, and stream on!


Qualcomm Snapdragon and Qualcomm Toq are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

Qualcomm VIVE and Qualcomm StreamBoost are products of Qualcomm Atheros, Inc.