Like every other website on the planet, SmallNetBuilder uses cookies. Our cookies track login status, but we only allow admins to log in anyway, so those don't apply to you. Any other cookies you pick up during your visit come from advertisers, which we don't control.
If you continue to use the site, you agree to tolerate our use of cookies. Thank you!

Router Charts

Click for Router Charts

Router Ranker

Click for Router Ranker

NAS Charts

Click for NAS Charts

NAS Ranker

Click for NAS Ranker

More Tools

Click for More Tools

Wireless Features

I was briefed by both Atheros and Ralink last week on their announcements at this week's Computex over in Taipei. While it wasn't the sole reason for the calls, I was able to get a feel for why we still haven't seen any three-stream N routers, even though the first were announced well over a year ago.

Ralink, Marvell were the first to announce 450 Mbps / three stream N chipsets around the end of 2008 / early 2009 and D-Link and TRENDnet jumped in to announce routers that used them. But neither router has ever shipped and it's unlikely they ever will.

Ralink said that high-end , i.e. expensive, routers need to be dual-band concurrent and that the initial three-stream N chipsets were both too expensive and CPU limited. As I've noted in earlier articles, going from two stream to three stream N isn't just a matter of upgrading firmware and drivers. The number crunching for handling the additional stream (plus optional N features such as beam forming) is a lot more intense than needed for dual-stream and far beyond the capability of dual-stream MAC/BB processors. So, moving to three-stream N requires a new BB/MAC.

But, at least in Ralink's experience, their initial stab at three stream processing (the RT2883) fell short of what was needed. So they had to go back and come up with a beefier chip, which they now have in the form of the RT3883, unveiled at this past January's Consumer Electronics show.

Atheros waited for the dust to settle a bit before announcing its AR9300 three-stream N chipset last November. That delay presumably gave them enough time to ensure that the devices had enough horsepower, because they aren't announcing any new three-stream N chipsets at Computex. Instead, their Computex announcement touts "router solutions" developed with AppliedMicro, Freescale, Ubicom and Cavium.

Atheros' explanation for the absence of any shipping three-stream routers to date was slightly different from Ralink's. While Atheros also cited high cost as a problem, they said that more work has been needed to improve stability and performance, especially for video streaming.

I asked both vendors whether they thought that HD video streaming was going to require dedicated adapter pair products that are video-optimized. Ralink said they didn't think so, but then cited their partnership with Celeno, which is focused on HD video distribution for service providers—certainly not a general-purpose wireless system that can handle both high speed data and HD video distribution.

Another vendor taking a dedicated video bridge approach is Quantenna, whose technology is supposed to be shipping this year in a NETGEAR product. (More about that here.)

I've rambled a bit, but the bottom line here is that I still don't get the sense that anyone is too excited about pushing forward with three-stream N products anytime soon. I think another part of the problem is the lack of client-side solutions, especially for folks who want to go from two-stream N to three.

Upgraders will most likely need USB adapters, since PCI slots are fast disappearing and ExpressCard slots never seemed to catch on. But with client side chipsets mainly designed for internal PCIe bus interface, it's more likely that we'll see three-stream N converters / bridges / APs like those that first appeared to add N capability to G routers.

So if you've been waiting for an N router to get your HD video streamed to that room to which no Ethernet can go, you'll need to keep waiting. Vendors are still trying to drive down cost and drive up performance (especially video) and it seems that it's taking much longer than they thought to get the job properly done.

More Wireless

Wi-Fi System Tools
Check out our Wi-Fi System Charts, Ranker and Finder!

Support Us!

If you like what we do and want to thank us, just buy something on Amazon. We'll get a small commission on anything you buy. Thanks!

Over In The Forums

I use OpenDNS and know they do a windows client to update the IP address registered with them if it changes.Any way to do this at the router level, as...
YazFi v4.1.4 Updated 2020-08-16 Feature expansion of guest WiFi networks on AsusWRT-Merlin, including, but not limited to:* Dedicated VPN WiFi netw...
v2.5.1 Updated 2020-05-10 Run an NTP server for your network. Graphs available for NTP accuracy on the Addons page of the WebUI.Inspired by kvic's p...
Hi can anyone recommend a router with wifi 3 and aes-ni for vpn, just want a future proof router that supports merlin firmware to, but not sure which ...
As the title states I am considering adding a unmanaged switch in between my ac3100 and my AP ac68u on the switch will be my Plex server and my person...

Don't Miss These

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3