Qualcomm FastConnect 7800 combining WiFi 7 and Bluetooth in single chip

Qualcomm Technologies has announced its first Wi-Fi 7 chip, the FastConnect 7800. Bundling the latest Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11) and Bluetooth specifications, the new chip is sampling already and expected to be available for commercial products in the second half of 2022. Qualcomm said this should be the first Wi-Fi 7 chip to launch commercially, pending the start of certification of Wi-Fi 7 products.

Wi-Fi 7, also known as IEEE 802.11be, is still in development so has not yet been approved as an IEEE standard. It includes features like 4k QAM, 320MHz channel bandwidth, and multi-link capabilities. Though, as with every standard, implementation is where truly differentiated performance is achieved. For example, multi-link can be implemented with simultaneous links or alternating links. Further, one of those links may be implemented using the narrow and congested 2.4GHz band (which could otherwise be reserved for Bluetooth or IoT devices). Design choices such as these will dictate how well your next devices will be able to harness Wi-Fi 7 speed and latency benefits, so Qualcomm Technologies’ approach is to offer a flexible solution that will include all the options.

Qualcomm said it expects the WiFi 7 system to deliver peak speeds up to 5.8Gbps, via single 320MHz or paired 160MHz channels, falling to 4.3Gbps when the 6GHz band is not be available. Latency should be less than 2ms.

One of the key features of the new system is High Band Simultaneous (HBS) Multi-Link technology. This simultaneously leverages two Wi-Fi radios for four streams of high band connectivity in the 5GHz and/or 6GHz bands. These connections can deliver the highest throughput and lowest sustained latency, while reserving high-traffic 2.4GHz spectrum for Bluetooth and lower-bandwidth Wi-Fi applications.

In addition, the new chip extends 4-Stream Dual-Band Simultaneous (DBS) into the high bands. This builds on Qualcomm’s 4-Stream DBS (2×2 + 2×2) with 5 and/or 6GHz Wi-Fi links used in concert for extreme low latency performance between access point and client or independently for multi-client scenarios. For instance, a mobile device connecting to a Wi-Fi 6/6E access point (for 2×2 backhaul in high band spectrum) can concurrently connect to an XR headset (for 2×2 fronthaul also in high band spectrum), free from the low bandwidth and congestion of the 2.4GHz band.

Qualcomm also promises high-quality Bluetooth audio with the new chip, which includes support for Snapdragon Sound. Its Intelligent Dual Bluetooth offers two radios with enhanced connections, enabling Bluetooth accessories to work up to twice the range, to pair in half the time, and speed up changing a Bluetooth connection between devices, according to the company.

Special attention was given to ensure that FastConnect 7800 maintains compatibility with all prior generation devices. Whatever generation of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth being used, FastConnect 7800 is built to provide the best connectivity. Sampling is already underway, with commercial availability rolling out in the second half of 2022.

At the launch at MWC, several companies including Honor, Meta, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo said they plan to use the new chip in future products.