Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon X50 5G Modem

Subject: Networking, Mobile | October 18, 2016 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: Snapdragon X50, snapdragon, qualcomm, modem, mobile, mmWave, LTE, cellular, 5G

Qualcomm has officially unveiled the development of a new 5G modem with the Snapdragon X50, which targets OEMs and early 5G development. The X50 supports milimeter wave (mmWave) technology initially, and rather than replace existing LTE solutions the X50 is designed to work alongside LTE modems integrated into Snapdragon SoCs, for a seamless handoff between 5G and 4G networks.


"The Snapdragon X50 5G modem will initially support operation in millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28GHz band. It will employ Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques, which facilitates robust and sustained mobile broadband communications in non-line-of-sight (NLOS) environments. With 800 MHz bandwidth support, the Snapdragon X50 5G modem is designed to support peak download speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second. 

Designed to be used for multi-mode 4G/5G mobile broadband, as well as fixed wireless broadband devices, the Snapdragon X50 5G modem can be paired with a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor with an integrated Gigabit LTE modem and interwork cohesively via dual-connectivity. Gigabit LTE will become an essential pillar for the 5G mobile experience, as it can provide a wide coverage layer for nascent 5G networks."

Ratification of an official “5G” standard has not taken place, but Qualcomm hopes to position itself at the forefront of its development. The mmWave technology (which is explained in this video) is only one part of the puzzle:

"Work has begun on defining, standardizing and designing the new OFDM-based 5G New Radio (NR) as part of the global 3GPP standard. 5G NR is being designed to support a wide variation of device-types, services and deployments. It is also being designed to get the most out of every bit of spectrum across a wide array of available spectrum bands and regulatory paradigms."

(More information is available on Qualcomm's 5G Technologies page.)

The Snapdragon X50 modem is set to begin sampling to OEMs in the second half of 2017, with the first half of 2018 projected for the first commercial products featuring the new modem.

Source: Qualcomm

Introducing the XG-U2008 switch – 10G networking for only $249

Subject: General Tech, Networking | October 12, 2016 - 08:22 PM |
Tagged: asus, XG-U2008, unmanaged switch, 10 gigabit

Planning an upgrade to your network or looking to build one that will last into the next generation of NICs?  ASUS has just made an unmanaged 10 gigabit switch available at a price far below the average asking price of the devices currently on the market.  $250 is still a steep investment for a switch but is less than half of the competitions, albeit without the management features found on those switches.  The LEDs on the front will glow amber if the cable you use is not up to the new standard, otherwise expect green for go.  It will support Jumbo Frames of up to 16 KB just like the more expensive models.  It is a compact 9.44x4.92x1.06", so you should easily be able to find a home for it.  PR below the snazzy product shot, technical details from ASUS here.


Fremont, CA (October 10th, 2016) -- Outside the enterprise market, the transition from Gigabit to 10-Gigabit Ethernet has been rather slow. While there are growing small-business and prosumer demands for the additional bandwidth that 10G networking provides, the cost of entry is high. Until now, the availability of compliant devices has been limited to enterprise-class products that are built with corporate networks in mind, with pricing for 10-Gigabit switches starting at $800. That certainly isn’t expensive by corporate standards, but for the rest of us, it relegates adoption to cases of absolute necessity and the upper echelon of enthusiasts.

While it’s advisable to plan ahead and overprovision your network for scalability, paying extra money for ports or features that you’ll never use doesn’t make sense. So, there’s a clear need for 10G networking devices that are suitably tailored for the small business, prosumer, and enthusiast markets. Cue the ASUS XG-U2008, an unmanaged 10G networking switch available for only $249.99.


Google WiFi Bringing Wireless Mesh Networking to the Home

Subject: Networking | October 9, 2016 - 05:42 AM |
Tagged: wifi, onhub, mesh, google wifi, google, 802.11ac

Building on the company’s OnHub WiFi router program, the search giant will be offering up its own mesh WiFi network solution for home users later this year aptly named “Google WiFi.” Available in November for pre-order Google will offer single and triple packs of its puck-shaped smartphone controlled WiFi nodes.

Google WiFi node.png

Google WiFi is a new product that takes advantage of an old technology called mesh networking. While most home users rely on a single powerful access point to distribute the wireless signal throughout the home, mesh networks place nodes around the home in such a way that the WiFi networks overlap. Devices can connect to any node and transition between nodes automatically. The nodes communicate with each other wirelessly and connect end devices to the router and Internet by taking the best path (least number of hops and/or highest signal strengths). This model does have some disadvantages that are shared with WiFi repeater solutions in that as much as 50% (or worse!) of the bandwidth can be lost at each hop as the devices use wireless for both communicating with end devices and the backbone to the router. The advantage though is that you need only find a power outlet to set up the mesh node and there is no need to run Ethernet or deal with Powerline or MoCA setups.

Fortunately, it looks as though Google has mitigated the disadvantage by including two radios. The circular Google WiFi nodes (which measure 4.17” diagonally and 2.7” tall) pack a dual band 802.11ac WiFi chip that can operate at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Using the 5 GHz network for in room end devices (PCs, smartphones, game consoles, Rokus, et al) and the 2.4 GHz network to communicate with each other will help to eliminate a major bottleneck. There will likely still be some bandwidth lost, especially over multiple hops, due to interference, but it should be much less than 50% bandwidth loss.

Google WiFi Mesh.png

Each Google WiFi node features two Gigabit Ethernet ports that can be setup as LAN or WAN ports, Bluetooth, and an 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi radio with beamforming support. The nodes are powered by an unspecified quad core processor, 512MB DDR3L memory, and 4GB of eMMC flash storage. The nodes apparently draw as much as 15 watts.

Of course, being Google, the Google WiFi can be controlled using an Android or iOS app that allows the administrator to pause WiFi on a per-device basis (e.g. set time limits for children), monitor device bandwidth usage and prioritize traffic, and automatically apply firmware updates to mitigate security risks. Additionally, Google WiFi automatically configures each node to use the best channel and band to get the best performance that supports all devices.

The nodes currently come only in white and are constructed of plastic. There are blue LEDs around the middle of the puck shaped device. Google WiFi will be available for pre-order in November. A single node will cost $129 while a three pack will cost $299. Google is not first to the wireless mesh party but it looks like it will be competitively priced (the three pack is $200 cheaper than eero, for example).

This looks like it might be a simple to setup solution if you or your family are currently running a single access point that can’t quite cover the entire home. I don’t really see this as a product for enthusiasts, but it might be worth recommending to people that just want WiFi that works with little setup. I will have to wait for reviews to say for sure though.

What are your thoughts on Google WiFi?

Also read:

Source: Google

Apple Dual-Sourcing Its iPhone 7 Modems

Subject: Networking, Mobile | September 17, 2016 - 12:48 AM |
Tagged: qualcomm, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, Intel, apple

Not every iPhone is created equal. Dual-sourcing parts is fairly common, especially in the mobile space. Samsung, for instance, is known to have separate models of the same phone, with some using its own parts, and others using third-party components. Apple has even designed separate versions of the same SoC in the past, to fabricate them at different locations and on different process technologies.


This case is more simple than that, though. Depending on the specific iPhone 7 that you get, which mostly varies by region and carrier, but also apparently between Plus and regular, you will either get a Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 modem, or you will get an Intel XMM 7360 modem. The ratio between these two parts, all markets considered, doesn't seem to have been announced yet, but old rumors claim about 70:30, Qualcomm-to-Intel. Still, Apple is a pretty big customer, so I'm hoping that both Intel and Qualcomm are moving enough to (Update: Sigh... input fail... original article cut off here. The rest of the sentence, after this update, was added a couple hours later.) be worthwhile for both parties.

Source: Fudzilla

The artisanal homebrew router faces a new challenge

Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 16, 2016 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: router, DIY, homebrew, openwrt

Ars Technica took router modding to a new level this year; why just flash your router with OpenWRT when you can make one from a mini PC?  The original was a dual gigabit NIC mini-PC with a 1037u Ivy Bridge Celeron from Alibaba, Homebrew 2.0 is sourced from Amazon, has four Intel gigabit LAN ports and runs on a J1900 Bay Trail Celeron.  You simply install an inexpensive SSD is installed in the mini-PC, set up OpenWRT and configure your network settings.  In this latest update Ars compares their homebrew routers to several retail routers to see how they fall in terms of performance.  Check it out to see how they fare and possibly to learn a bit about network benchmarks.


"Famously around the Ars forums, this problem soon evolved into our homebrew router initiative. In January, I showed my math as a DIY-Linux router outpaced popular off-the-shelf options like the Netgear Nighthawk X6 and the Linksys N600 EA-2750. And in August, I shared the steps necessary to build one of your own."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

Rivet Networks Announces Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Controller

Subject: Networking | September 15, 2016 - 08:42 PM |
Tagged: Rivet Networks, NiC, networking, Killer Networking, Killer E2500, Ethernet, controller

Rivet Networks have announced the new Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet controller, and they are partnering with MSI and GIGABYTE to bring the new controller to consumer gaming motherboards.


“The Killer E2500 delivers powerful networking technology to gamers and performance users, including significant new enhancements to its Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 Technology and the all new Killer Control Center. In addition to detecting and optimally prioritizing your games, video, and voice applications with Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 Technology, the Killer E2500 also detects and manages 500+ of the top global websites.”

The networking performance is said to be improved considerably with the new controller and software, with "Lag and Latency Reduction Technology":


“Through its patented technology, Killer is able to get network packets to your applications and web browsers up to 25% faster than the competition during single application usage, and potentially by more than 10x faster when multitasking.”

As I quickly realized when reviewing the Killer Wireless-AC 1535 last year, the software is just as important as the hardware with a Killer adapter. For the new E2500, the Killer Control Center has been re-designed, to provide “users full control of all aspects of their system’s networking performance”.


Rivet Networks describes the functionality of this Killer Control Center software, which allows users to control:

  • The priority of each application and popular website
  • The bandwidth used by each application and popular website
  • The Killer interface that each application is going over
  • The total bandwidth being used by system

I found that enabling the Killer Software bandwidth management to significantly affect latency when gaming (which you can see here, again revisiting the AC 1535 review), and Rivet Networks is confident that this new system will offer even better performance. We’ll know exactly how this new controller and software performs once we have one of the new motherboards featuring this E2500 controller onboard.

Subject: Networking
Manufacturer: Actiontec

Actiontec MoCA WCB6200Q and ECB6200 Review

Occasionally we’ll get some gear rolling through the PCPer offices that are a bit off the beaten path.  The pair of devices on tap today are something you may not come across often, and could very well be something you may not have even heard of.  They are niche products serving a niche need, and that niche is “MoCA.”  Today we’re looking at the Actiontec WCB6200Q 802.11ac MoCA 2.0 Wireless Network Extender and its partner in crime the Actiontec ECB6200 Bonded MoCA 2.0 Network Adapter.


So, what the hell is “MoCA” you ask?  “MoCA” stands for “Multimedia over Coax Alliance” and is a standard for running data over in-house Coax wiring.  Whether you know it or not, you may have already run into MoCA networking as it's often used by cable and satellite companies to connect multi-room DVRs.  Established in 2004, the ‘Alliance’ currently has 45 members including pay TV operators, OEMs, manufacturers and IC vendors.  These members came together and developed a standard to create an in-home backbone for wireless network extension, multi-room digital video recorders (DVRs), over-the-top (OTT) streaming content as well as network access in MDU (Multiple Dwelling Unit) environments.  Using unused frequency bands on the Coax cabling, MoCA comes in 3 flavors, MoCA v1.1 that has speeds of up 175 Mbps, MoCA v2.0 was released in 2010 with speeds of up to 800 Mbps, and just recently announced in April of this year, MoCA v2.5 will see throughput of up to a whopping 2.5 Gbps.  Unfortunately, MoCA v2.5 is so new that we’ve not seen any related hardware yet.

So, what does all that actually mean?  Simply put, MoCA is a way for you to easily get high speed network connectivity to areas that you normally couldn’t.  Unless you are lucky enough to have a house with network drops in each room, you are most likely are using wireless to reach the far corners of your house.  But what if you can’t get a good signal somewhere in your home, or you can get a signal, but the throughput just isn’t up to snuff?  This is where MoCA is supposed to help.  You likely already have a ‘hard wire network’ running into every room of your house, and that’s Coax.  Using a MoCA network you can extend your high speed network’s footprint anywhere in your house you have a Coax port.

Continue reading our review of the Actiontec MoCA adapters!!

Bluetooth 5 Announced

Subject: Networking | June 10, 2016 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: bluetooth 5, bluetooth

The fourth version of Bluetooth was released almost six years ago now. Its main focus was lower power, which was very important at the time. Bluetooth and WiFi were major energy sinks for mobile devices, and smartphones were taking off. This was also during the first wave of tablets.


The Bluetooth special interest group has now announced Bluetooth 5. The headlining features are double range and quadruple speed for low-powered Bluetooth connections. (Update, June 13th @ 1:15pm: Bluetooth's PR agency contacted me, said the source's numbers were backwards, and asked me to update to the correct ones. It's double speed and quadruple range for low-powered Bluetooth connections.) This is obviously useful for a data communication protocol, although it is difficult to tell whether low bandwidth was an issue for many devices. It is not exactly something that hardware vendors would publicly complain about.

They also intend to allow certain services to operate without pairing. The open letter says that it is intended to be used with “beacons” and “location-based services” but fails to elaborate. Instead, it points to their Discover Blue: London event on June 16th, so I expect that will be expanded upon there. Part of me is concerned that connectionless could turn into “operates without user control,” but, ultimately, the device is responsible for what it executes. There shouldn't be a way that a protocol, without the OS being involved, could force an interaction -- at least not without a backlash against the OS for permitting it.

Again, we'll find out more in about a week, on June 16th.

Linksys Releases EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO Router

Subject: Networking | February 19, 2016 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: wireless router, wi-fi, router, mu-mimo, MAX-STREAM AC1900, linksys, EA8500, EA7500, 802.11ac, 4x4, 3x3

Linksys has announced availability of a new MU-MIMO wireless router, and the EA7500 features 3x3 802.11ac Wi-Fi along with 4x Gigabit LAN ports.


“The Linksys MAX-STREAM AC1900 features MU-MIMO, the latest advance toward uninterrupted, simultaneous Wi-Fi connections. Devices such as HD streaming media players, 4K TVs, tablets, and game consoles use a lot of bandwidth. But with MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) technology, the MAX-STREAM AC1900 sends advanced Wi-Fi to multiple devices at the same time and same speed. Your whole family can play, stream, and work at once, without experiencing lag or buffering - at up to 2x the speed of a non-MU-MIMO router.”

The specs include:

  • Wi-Fi Technology: AC1900 MU-MIMO Dual-band Gigabit, 600+1300 Mbps 
  • Wi-Fi Speed: AC1900 (N600 + AC1300) 
  • Wi-Fi Bands: 2.4 and 5 GHz (simultaneous dual band)
  • Power Antennas: 3x external, dual-band, detachable antennas
  • Operation Modes: Wireless Router, Access Point, Wired Bridge, Wireless Bridge
  • Processor: 1.4 GHz dual-core 
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 4x Gigabit LAN ports, 1x Gigabit WAN port
  • Other Ports: 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 port 
  • Storage File System Support: FAT, NTFS, HFS+


Retail pricing is $199.99, placing it $50 below the larger 4x4 MU-MIMO EA8500 router ($249.99). If you’re looking to upgrade your router to take advantage of MU-MIMO technology (the benefits of which we covered in our review of the Killer Wireless-AC 1535), this EA7500 provides a new, more affordable option.

Full press release after the break.

Source: Linksys

ASUS Announces RP-AC68U AC1900 Wireless Repeater

Subject: Networking | February 9, 2016 - 04:24 PM |
Tagged: wireless repeater, wi-fi, signal repeater, RP-AC68U, router, dual-band, asus, ac1900

ASUS has announced a new high-end wireless repeater, and the RP-AC68U boasts dual-band wireless AC1900 speeds, and features 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports to add wired devices to the network.


"ASUS RP-AC68U works by connecting wirelessly to an existing router and extending the Wi-Fi signal to areas of poor coverage, which are often a problem in large or multi-floor homes. With its blindingly-fast up to 1900Mbps combined speeds (600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band), RP-AC68U is the perfect companion for extending the coverage of the latest 802.11ac routers, but it can also be used with routers supporting any older Wi-Fi standards."

The boxy shape is a big contrast from the giant spider-like designs we've seen from recent high-end routers, and inside the enclosure there are a total of 3 transmit and 4 receive antennas to extend the range of your dual-band 802.11ac network.


The RP-AC68U has five Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back, which ASUS says "allow users to convert any wired network devices to wireless operation", and there's a USB 3.0 port to allow additional devices to be added to the network. 


  • I/O ports:
    • 5 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN RJ45
    • 1 x USB 3.0 port
  • Antennas: 4 x Internal antennas (3 transmit, 4 receive)
  • Memory: 128MB Flash / 256MB RAM
  • Operating Frequency: Dual band 2.4GHz & 5GHz
  • Wi-Fi Data Rate*:
    • 802.11ac: up to 1300Mbps
    • 802.11n: Up to 600Mbps
    • 802.11a/g: Up to 54Mbps
    • 802.11b: Up to 11Mbps
    • *Quoted network speeds and bandwidth based on current IEEE specifications. Actual performance may be affected by network and service provider factors, interface type, and other conditions. Connected devices must be compatible for best results.
  • 802.11ac Specification:
    • MIMO: 3 x 4
    • 20/40/80MHz bandwidth
  • Buttons:
    • WPS button
    • Power button
    • Reset button
  • Encryption:
    • WPA/WPA2-PSK
    • WPA/WPA2-Enterprise
    • WPS support
  • Mode:
    • Repeater
    • Access Point
    • Media Bridge
  • Dimensions & weight: 178 x 106 x 106 mm; Weight: 870g

Pricing and availabilty were not announced. Full press release after the break.

Source: ASUS