Just two days ago, we saw how blazingly fast Qualcomm's new Krait-based Snapdragon S4 CPU is in dual-core MSM8960 guise. Today, they've announced that the S4 line of CPUs - including the MSM8960 and its quad-core brother APQ8064 (seriously, who came up with this naming system?) - will pack the next-gen 802.11ac Wi-Fi spec.

Support for the new spec comes courtesy of Qualcomm's Atheros WCN3680 chip, which packs a 1x1 802.11ac chip with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and FM on-board. Luckily for consumers and manufacturers, Qualcomm designed the chip to be pin-compatible with the widely-used WCN3660, the company's 802.11n chip, meaning manufacturers can switch to the 3680 chip without redesigning other parts of the phone.

In sum: the chip will provide up to 433Mbps data speeds, better range, and potentially better battery life, than 802.11n.

Relevant section of the press release:

Qualcomm Atheros 802.11ac for Mobile

A key catalyst driving the ecosystem, the WCN3680 is a mobile 1x1 802.11ac combo Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM chip that is the connectivity companion to the Qualcomm 28nm Snapdragon™ family of processors, and will be integrated with the Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 processor featuring a dual-core Krait CPU and the S4 APQ8064 processor featuring a quad-core Krait CPU. Targeted at mobile consumer electronic devices like smartphones and tablets, the WCN3680 chip has high throughput for fast data transfer and low power consumption, enabling longer battery life and superior performance for demanding applications. The Snapdragon S4 processor class supports a wide range of leading operating systems, provides data rates up to 433 Mbps, and is pin-compatible with Qualcomm Atheros' 802.11n mobile solution, the WCN3660, to provide customers with a simple upgrade path to 802.11ac performance.

"We are thrilled to be the industry's first company with a mobile 802.11ac combo chip. The WCN3680 is an important development for the wireless industry," said Barratt. "Qualcomm Atheros is improving the way new Wi-Fi technologies are propagated and expanding on the strength of Qualcomm's mobile footprint to enable 802.11ac more quickly for everyone."

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • Joshua

    That's great news. The S4 is going to be an incredible leap. I wonder if TI/Samsung are planning on implementing 802.11ac?

    Anyway, here is a good overview with a bit more detail:


    And here's what happens when applied to current mobile technology:


  • http://gplus.to/sickopsycho andrew vincent

    awwwwwww snap (dragon). I want one.

  • Eric

    meh.. I'm more than fine with old chip..
    I've never got WiFi past 30 Mbps here :(

  • slurms mckenzie

    i dont even have wifi :( have to tether to my gs2. man im so poor

  • alex

    Im sticking to an S4, quad-core. I mean great battery life, awesome performance, great gaming, and etc. S4 is on fire.

  • J-Dog

    Possibly stupid question, but... Does anyone even offer wifi speeds anywhere close to 433mbps? 50mbps is the fastest we can get around here (but then thats the curse of living in rural areas).

    Also, will this be backwards compatible with a/b/g/n networks? I haven't seen any ac routers out there (though its about time I update my g network (especially if we've gotten so far past we're already into the double letters)).

    • Geoff Johnson

      What do you mean by "offer wifi speeds"?  You can buy your own 802.11n AP that can do up to 300Mbps.