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Quantenna wins favor at Motorola as its chip for video WiFi

Motorola has dipped its toe in the water of WiFi systems built especially for in-home video transport, starting off with a Wireless video bridge, the

By PETER WHITE

Published: 7 April, 2011

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Motorola has dipped its toe in the water of WiFi systems built especially for in-home video transport, starting off with a Wireless video bridge, the VAP 2400, built using a 4 x 4 MIMO chip from head turning start-up Quantenna Communications. It will likely be the biggest design win that Quantenna has ever had.

As far as we understand it there is little attempt in the Quantenna design to deliberately accommodate video, instead this is more of a “brute force” approach, taking the full MIMO 802.11n standard and making sure there is virtually zero placket loss, regardless the type of data that it is sending. Other efforts from Celeno in Israel and from Airties in Turkey, have focused as much on firmware to deliberately look at current channel capacity and map video capacity onto it, as simply creating a better series of channels. Airties uses off the shelf Broadcom chips 2 X 2 MIMO and Celeno has had great success with its own MIMO chip using up to 6 antennas.

The concept of a wireless video bridge has only been around for under a year, and this one, like others that we’ve seen, claims to use beamforming to make the connection, using the high number of channels available in 5GHz unlicensed spectrum, rather than being stuck to the original 2.4 GHz WiFi spectrum.

Quantenna has been working on its chip since at least 2008 and launched it last January at CES, when it was claimed to be the only full specification 802n chipset including 4x4 MIMO, dynamic digital beamforming, mesh networking and channel monitoring and optimization and claims to support multiple concurrent video streams of ultra-low-latency H.264 up to Blu-ray quality video, across 200-foot distances. It can also be used for applications such as online bidirectional video-game controllers, and can operate in point-to-multipoint mode.

This particular Motorola product it is being seen as point to multipoint, able to reach any TV in the home. If it had not chosen the Quantenna chip it had very few choices – Celeno will be hugely disappointed, and then of course there was Qualcomm. Qualcomm also has a platform based on 4x4 MIMO arrays, which it built with experience from acquisition of Airgo, but right now Atheros (also being acquired by Qualcomm) has stopped at 3x3 MIMO, as have Marvell, Ralink (acquired a few weeks back by Mediatek) and Lantiq. Broadcom still appears to be happy with its chip performance with just 2 x 2 MIMO and Airties uses this chip with special firmware to get pretty good video performance.

Now that Motorola has embraced this technology, albeit not expected to deliver until Q3 2011(could be as early as July) it could lead to a flood of follow on orders at Quantenna. Assuming the video bridge goes well Motorola, with something still approaching 50% of the market share in set tops and DOCSIS modems in the US cable and IPTV market, could put wireless video capability into everything it builds for the home.

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