Broadcom brings Gigabit and Wi-Fi to power line networking

Broadcom's new HomePlug AV2-based power line chips offer up to 1.5Gbps and integrate Wi-Fi in an all-in-one system-on-a-chip approach.

The new BCM60500 HomePlug AV2 SoCs from Broadcom
The new BCM60500 HomePlug AV2 SoCs from Broadcom Broadcom

Power line networking -- the technology that enables electrical wiring to transfer data -- is about to get a lot faster.

Broadcom announced on Monday what it claims to be the industry's first HomePlug AV2 power line system-on-a-chips (SoCs) that deliver up to 1.5Gbps data speed. That's about three times the speed of the top existing power line devices.

HomePlug AV2 is the next-generation power line standard that uses an extended frequency band of up to 86MHz, while HomePlug AV was limited to 30MHz. In addition, HomePlug AV2 supports Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) -- a technology already in use with the 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi standards. This means it can offer much higher speed caps, and more-consistent actual sustained data speeds than previous generations.

Broadcom says its new SoCs, models BCM60500 and BCM60333, also have the built-in support for the latest Wi-Fi standard, the 802.11ac, as well as the popular 802.11n, to offer an all-in-one connection solution. Both chips are engineered to work inside power line communication (PLC) adapters and routers, or to be integrated into end devices such as set-top boxes, network media streamers, and so on.

Here are the key features of the two new chips:

  • Full IEEE 1905.1 standard integration, including router/gateway PLC integration, single push-button for security integration, automatic configuration of Wi-Fi security keys over PLC, and network topology discovery.
  • Optimized firmware architecture for integration with 802.11ac routers, set-top boxes, and gateways.
  • 750Mbps and 1.5Gbps PHY rates support and backward compatibility with existing power line devices.
  • All regulatory power requirements are met, including EuP Lot 6 and CENELEC 50561-1 standard.
  • Support for MIMO 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi products, and the ability to make use of the three wires in a typical electrical outlet to simultaneously send more data on the different paths.

Broadcom said it's currently sampling both BCM60500 and BCM60333 SoCs to networking vendors. Consumers can expect networking devices powered by these chips by the end of the year.

Read the full CNET Review

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About the author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

 

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