Wi-Fi Alliance standard determined, smart home opens the “7” era
Electronic Enthusiast Network reported (Text/Huang Shanming) At the 2024 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2024) that just passed, technology companies from all over the world showcased the latest products and technologies that have been launched or are about to be launched. . Among them, Wi-Fi 7 technology is the focus.
At CES, the Wi-Fi Alliance officially announced that the Wi-Fi 7 standard has been finalized and equipment certification has begun. Currently, the Wi-Fi Alliance has also established a searchable database, and all certified products have been placed in it. And with the upgrade of Wi-Fi 7, many communications that have troubled smart homes in the past will be solved.
Wi-Fi 7The dust has settled
Just at this year's CES 2024, the Wi-Fi Alliance revealed that it has started certification for Wi-Fi 7. Only certified devices can work properly and be compatible with other Wi-Fi devices. At CES, MediaTek also demonstrated its certified Wi-Fi 7 products to cope with the subsequent large-scale mass production of wireless terminal equipment. This Wi-Fi 7 chip can be used in home networks, Mesh routers, TVs, smartphones and other devices.
Not only MediaTek, but also Qualcomm recently announced the launch of the Wi-Fi 7 immersive home networking platform. And judging from the Wi-Fi Alliance’s list, among the several Wi-Fi 7 routers on the market, only TP-Link’s Deco BE85 and Archer BE800 are consumer-grade Wi-Fi 7 routers on the list.
As these major chip companies, mobile phone companies, and related router manufacturers have launched products that support the Wi-Fi 7 protocol, it also means that wireless networks have begun to enter a new era of Wi-Fi 7.
The so-called Wi-Fi 7 is the next Wi-Fi version after Wi-Fi 6E. Like Wi-Fi 6E, Wi-Fi 7 works on the 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz frequency bands and is backwards compatible with previous devices. Wi-Fi 7 has also become the fastest generation of Wi-Fi recognized by the communications industry. Its transmission speed can reach 46Gbps, supports more devices to connect at the same time, and can adapt to more complex and crowded network environments.
For example, Wi-Fi 7 promises faster throughput through features such as 320MHz channel bandwidth, which is twice what Wi-Fi 6E provides; in addition, Wi-Fi 7 also adds multi-link aggregation technology that can combine frequency bands into a single, faster, more stable connection; and improved interference handling.
In particular, this multi-link aggregation technology (Multi-Link Operation, referred to as MLO) can increase the transmission rate by 92% while reducing signal delay by 77%. And MLO can also allow the two frequency bands of 2.4GHz and 5GHz to be connected to transmit data at the same time, preventing the performance of the other frequency band from being wasted.
Some people may say that this seems similar to the dual-band integration on current routers, but in fact dual-band integration and Wi-Fi 7's multi-link aggregation technology are two different concepts. Dual-band-in-one means that the router sets the SSID (wireless network name) and password of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands to be the same, so that users do not need to manually switch frequency bands. However, Wi-Fi 7's multi-link aggregation technology is a more advanced technology that uses multiple physical links (such as 2.4GHz and 5GHz) to logically form a more powerful link to improve the network's performance and reliability.
Specifically, multi-link operation allows data to be aggregated at the MAC layer, and the upper layer is completely unaware that two Wi-Fi hotspots are connected. In addition, load balancing based on traffic demand, MLO achieves significantly higher throughput and lower latency to improve reliability in heavily loaded networks. This is a new feature introduced on the basis of Wi-Fi 6, allowing Wi-Fi 7 to provide higher data transmission speeds compared to Wi-Fi 6.
Wi-Fi 7It may solve the current problems of smart home
Upgrading to Wi-Fi 7 may be a prerequisite for realizing whole-house intelligence in the future for ordinary consumers. For the entire industry, it will also become one of the core connection technologies for realizing the Internet of Everything.
It’s an old question that comes up again. With the popularization of smart home devices, there will be more and more devices in the home, and due to the deepening of intelligence, the requirements for the network are getting higher and higher. IDC predicts that the shipments of smart home devices with built-in voice assistants will account for nearly 21% in 2024, and the shipments of smart home devices that support facial recognition functions will increase by 14% year-on-year. These functions require more network support. And as the number of devices increases, the pressure on the network will continue to increase.
In this regard, Wi-Fi 7 has added CMU-MIMO technology. Compared with Wi-Fi 6, which uses MU-MIMO to support up to 8 data streams, Wi-Fi 7 can support up to 16 data streams with the support of CMU-MIMO technology. flow. The extra C stands for Coordinated. It also means that the 16 data streams of CMU-MIMO can be provided by multiple APs (Access Points), which also means that multiple APs need to work together.
This is obviously different from the previous method. In the past, in the face of the increasing number of intelligent networked devices, more requirements were put forward for Wi-Fi access capabilities and coverage. The market began to propose solutions such as wired/wireless bridging. , Mesh networking, sub-mother routing and other solutions, that is, by adding APs to enhance signal coverage.
Before the emergence of Wi-Fi 7, the form of collaboration between APs was relatively simple. For example, some manufacturers will develop a set of custom technologies to realize automatic network tuning, intelligent roaming and other WLAN functions, which can achieve basic synergy of routing products under their own brands. However, the collaboration at this time can only perform functions such as optimizing channel selection and adjusting the load between APs.
But Wi-Fi 7 raises the collaboration between APs to the level of standards, which means that even routers from different manufacturers can collaborate under the Wi-Fi 7 protocol as long as they meet the standards. It can be easily understood that Wi-Fi 7 is an exclusive Matter protocol between routers, which directly solves the ecological barriers between different routers.
In addition, Wi-Fi 7 also joins the 6GHz frequency band added in Wi-Fi 6E, and through MLO technology, three frequency bands can work simultaneously, thereby obtaining greater communication bandwidth to increase its own speed, and will also expand The width of a single channel increases from 160MHz in Wi-Fi 6 to 320MHz.
Of course, for ordinary users, the most direct feeling is that the maximum data rate of Wi-Fi 7 will increase from 9.6Gbps of Wi-Fi 6 to 46Gbps, almost five times. In terms of latency, the worst-case latency of Wi-Fi 7 can be improved 100 times compared to Wi-Fi 6. In addition, when using applications such as AR/VR, its latency can be improved 15 times, which will greatly promote In the future, smart homes will require the implementation of big data and low-latency applications, such as home service robots.
However, at present, the price of Wi-Fi 7 related equipment is not cheap. For example, the Wi-Fi 7 router launched by MSI is priced at US$299, TP-Link’s Deco BE85 is priced at US$999.99, and the Archer BE800 is priced at US$299. That's $599.99. For a router, it is quite expensive.
As the dust of Wi-Fi 7 has settled, the Wi-Fi Alliance has officially started certification of related equipment, and due to the characteristics of Wi-Fi 7, it is expected to accelerate the popularity of whole-house intelligence. At the same time, chip factories, module factories, and equipment factories are all ready to launch Wi-Fi 7 related products. It is expected to see more new Wi-Fi 7 products on the market this year.
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