Xirrus Adds More 802.11ac Wi-Fi Options

By Sean Michael Kerner | Mar 11, 2014 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/nethub/xirrus-adds-more-802.11ac-wi-fi-options.html

Wi-Fi vendor Xirrus is expanding its portfolio today with the new XR-620 access point. The XR-620 is a two-radio 802.11ac access point that extends Xirrus's existing 802.11ac portfolio, which includes the XR-630 first announced in October of 2013.

"We sell both APs (two-radio fixed hardware) and Arrays (2-16 radio modular hardware), and the new XR-620 extends the AP solutions with a new low-cost 11ac option," Bruce Miller, vice president of Product Marketing at Xirrus, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet.

The faster XR-630 11ac AP provides 2.6Gbps total bandwidth, while the new XR-620 comes in at 1.7Gbps total bandwidth. The XR-620 is specified to have bandwidth throughput of 867 Mbps per radio, in a 2x2 MIMO (2 antennas, 2 streams) configuration. In contrast, the XR-630 supports 3x3 MIMO with a max rate of 1.3Gbps. Miller noted that the XR-620 also carries a lower price point, coming in at $675, while the XR-630 has a list price of $1,100.

"Enterprise WLAN vendors to date have introduced only 3x3 products at a premium price into the market," Miller said. "The XR-620 changes the game by providing a low entry point cost for more price-sensitive customers to get into 11ac."

Xirrus's product strategy includes software-programmable radios that allow for upgradeability. Miller explained that an organization can buy an XR-620 (or XR-630) initially as an 11n AP, then upgrade in software to 11ac by buying an additional 11ac license.

"We expect most customers will go straight to 11ac on those products, but it provides an option for customers wanting to spread capex over time," Miller said.

On the Xirrus arrays, Miller noted that the upgrade path is both hardware and software. As such, organizations can add or swap out modules to upgrade to 11ac when they are ready. The Array radios are also software-programmable.

Antenna Technology

The difference between the Xirrus arrays and access points has a lot to do with antenna technology. Miller said that the XR-620 has omni-directional antennas, like other Xirrus and competitor APs.

"It is our Arrays that have the directional antennas with increased coverage," Miller commented. "That said, the XR-620 antennas are unique in that they are designed to provide isolation between the two radios to enable the software-programmable function."

Sitting at the core of the XR-620 is a Qualcom Atheros Wi-Fi chipset and the Linux-based operating system common across all of Xirrus's APs and arrays.

Miller said that Xirrus will be rolling out 802.11ac across all of its product line in the coming months.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist