Wireless network provider Xirrus introduced today (8 October 2013) the XR-630 802.11ac access point (AP) featuring ACExpress - a Xirrus innovation that intelligently separates high-speed from lower-speed mobile devices to maximize system performance.
The XR-630 provides a cloud-managed, low-cost expansion of the Xirrus 802.11ac portfolio that also includes Xirrus' line of modular, upgradeable line of XR Arrays.
The company said that the XR-630 is the first access point of its kind to feature two radios capable of supporting the new 802.11ac standard, allowing organizations to provide performance well beyond that of 802.11n and enabling mobile users to experience application performance comparable to that of a wired network.
"Two years ago, Xirrus introduced the first 802.11ac-ready product in the industry, the XR modular wireless array; one year ago, Xirrus introduced the first 802.11ac pre-order programme, providing investment protection through the pre-purchase of 802.11ac modules for the XR modular wireless array," said Shane Buckley, CEO, Xirrus.
"Now, we are expanding the Xirrus 802.11ac line with a software-programmable, low-cost AP to increase the options for customers making the transition to the fastest wireless technology. Our focus on creating flexible solutions that can adapt to future requirements, while keeping cost-control in mind, helps minimize the disruption often encountered when transitioning to new technology."
A significant limitation of traditional two-radio APs - including 802.11ac APs introduced by other wireless vendors to date - is that they are built using a fixed design with one 2.4GHz radio and one 5GHz radio. Because 802.11ac is a 5GHz-only technology, such fixed-configuration products are limited to operating as only half of an 802.11ac AP with just one radio supporting 802.11ac at up to 1.3Gbps rates.
The second radio on these APs operates in 2.4GHz at up to 225Mbps data rates, severely limiting the total potential performance of the AP. While most wireless networks still support many 2.4GHz clients, the industry is moving to 5GHz given its superior bandwidth and exclusive support by 802.11ac.
Over the lifespan of a product, it will be desirable to operate more radios in 5GHz (802.11ac) to accommodate client changes, an option the low-cost XR-630 provides with software programmability of each radio.
"The wireless device landscape continues to rapidly evolve, with new, powerful, smart mobile devices expected to make their way into the hands of enterprise users and consumers," said Rohit Mehra, vice president of Network Infrastructure at IDC.
"Enterprises need highly capable wireless infrastructure for access to business critical mobility applications, and will look to emerging 802.11ac Wi-Fi as a technology that comes with great promise to bridge the gap between user needs and the capability of current infrastructure. With today's announcement, Xirrus is taking the next step in delivering flexible, Gigabit-speed wireless infrastructure options for enterprise IT."
Uncompromised 802.11ac performance
ACExpress leverages the software-programmable capability of Xirrus APs and arrays to help organisations obtain the greatest benefit from their 802.11ac deployments. Since Wi-Fi is a shared medium, slower (e.g., 802.11n 5GHz) and faster (e.g., 802.11ac) devices often need to share the same resources.
For example, an 802.11n client operates more than four times slower than an 802.11ac client, and thus will take four times more air time to communicate a given amount of data. This behaviour starves the available bandwidth from faster clients, reducing performance significantly.
ACExpress intelligently separates clients by type onto different radios, grouping fast clients together and slow clients together, thereby maximizing performance for all. This separation is not possible with traditional fixed APs since each radio only operates on different bands. ACExpress is supported on all Xirrus 802.11ac products, both APs and arrays.
Businesses consider 802.11ac the next step in the evolution of Wi-Fi to meet the ever-higher density and capacity demands being placed on wireless networks today. An 802.11ac-based Wi-Fi network delivers simultaneous data transfers at switch-like speeds, enabling enterprises to deploy high-bandwidth applications such as video and collaboration tools to BYOD users. 802.11ac advantages include:
- Operates only in the less congested 5GHz spectrum, which supports much greater capacity than the 2.4GHz spectrum still used by 802.11n
- Provides faster speeds than 802.11n, operating at up to 1.3Gbps in Wave 1 implementations, or about three times the maximum data rate of 802.11n
- Supports simultaneous communications on a single channel with multi-user MIMO in future Wave 2 products, much like a switch - as compared with the shared approach of Wi-Fi today, akin to a hub - benefitting user experience
- Extends the techniques pioneered in 802.11n: more antennas, more spatial streams and wider channels to improve throughput.
All Xirrus 802.11ac products, including the XR-630, feature Xirrus Application Control, allowing IT administrators to identify and manage more than 1,200 application types using Layer 7 Deep Packet Inspection (DPI).
Application Control utilizes a distributed approach to controlling applications, placing the classification and policy enforcement engines directly at the edge of the network where bandwidth and security threats can be controlled before the traffic enters and impacts the core network.
The unique Xirrus architecture used on the XR-630 and all Xirrus products employs high performance, integrated controllers to deliver the compute performance required to execute full DPI directly at the network edge.
XR-630 is available in December 2013.
$1,100 for XR-630 AP supporting dual 3x3 802.11ac radios.