Quantenna's products are not new to AnandTech. We had reviewed Netgear's 3DHD Wireless Home Theater Networking Kit back in 2011. The kit was based on Quantenna's 802.11n solution. Despite scheduling a briefing ahead of CES, we were caught unawares by the exciting QSR1000 4x4 802.11ac MIMO solution from Quantenna. Broadcom has managed to hold on to the high-end 802.11ac market for quite some time now, and it is refreshing to see competition for the high end. A point to be noted is that the Quantenna chipset provides 1.7 Gbps of theoretical bandwidth with the ac radios alone. The AC1900 and AC1750 solutions from Broadcom (and other vendors) are all based on a 3x3 802.11ac solution (1300 Mbps theoretical) and the rest being made up with 802.11n radios.

While the Netgear 3DHD product enjoyed limited success in retail, service providers were enamoured by the reliability and performance of Quantenna solutions. These were on display at Quantenna's CES suite. Qualcomm was one of the first to publicly release a 4x4 solution for 802.11n back in 2009, but the product didn't find any retail success. Quantenna's CEO attributed this to the system not working reliably in real world situations (a point corroborated by some of the other retail networking vendors that I talked to at the show). Building a reliable 4x4 wireless system is hard, and Quantenna hopes that competitors will find it difficult / take time to catch up.

Quantenna's 4x4 802.11ac solution promises much more practical throughput in multi-client scenarios compared to existing Broadcom and Atheros solutions. This is thanks in part to the Wave2 feature which allows for multiple streams to multiple clients without directing all possible streams to a single user at a given time. This MU-MIMO (multiple user MIMO) can be implemented for up to 8 spatial streams, but vendors are likely to limit themselves to 4.  Wave2 also supports for channels up to 160 MHz wide. The QSR1000 will support 4 spatial streams and 80 MHz wide channels.

The Asus RT-AC87U is slated to be the first QSR1000 enabled router to hit retail. Despite the announcement at CES, no availability date or price was announced. From a service provider / enterprise perspective, the QSR1000 is also being used by Mimosa Networks for outdoor access points and ViXS into its STB reference design. The QSR1000 is definitely pointing to exciting times ahead for the Wi-Fi market.

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  • r3loaded - Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - link

    Well that's taken the super-awesome sheen off my AC66U :P
  • jed22281 - Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - link

    Hmm, decisions decisions, looks like it'd give the upcoming Linksys AC1900 a run for it's money too:
    Hopefully SNB will shed some light on who the king is... ;)
  • zanon - Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - link

    I recently got a couple of those too in the holiday sales, but no need to feel bad. Seems very likely this will be marketed as top of the line and priced accordingly, could easily be double what the AC66U was going for. More importantly, a lot of the value in these things (IMO anyway) comes from custom firmware, which add a lot of additional features and power. With a brand new chipset I'd expect significant delay in support from various custom firmware groups, and even in terms of 1st party Asus is notorious for 1.0 bugs (which to their credit they do continue to work to iron out over time). When it comes to networking equipment I don't mind not being an early adopter.
  • pixelstuff - Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - link

    I want to know when Asus is going to release a PoE access point with 802.11ac capabilities.
  • azazel1024 - Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - link

    Don't you need MU-MIMO enabled clients to really be able to take advantage of it though? Otherwise you are still in the same situation where the clients are forcing a wait-ack bandwidth limitation on other clients.

    MU-MIMO I think is great, when it finally hits pretty universally, but I feel like this is the very first baby step. Gotta start somewhere though.
  • RealBeast - Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - link

    Now all we need is some compatible adapters. Other than the one ASUS PCE-AC68 PCIe even 3x3 ac adapter selection is pretty much non-existent. Other than for a wireless bridge, what good is 4x4 at present?
  • JustusSteuber - Thursday, June 25, 2020 - link

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