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Broadcom unveils new 5G Wi-Fi chips for PCs, tablets, phones

Designed for 802.11ac wireless, the new 5G chips are being targeted for entry-level devices.

Broadcom is ramping up more chips designed to support 5G Wi-Fi, aka 802.11ac.

The chipmaker today announced its first 5G Wi-Fi combo chips designed specifically for entry-level consumer devices, meaning PCs, notebooks, tablets, and smartphones. Combo chips offer Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and FM radio all in one package. This second generation of 5G Wi-Fi chips includes the same features as Broadcom's current lineup but integrates more components to keep costs down.

"This 1x1 design lowers cost while still delivering dramatic speed, power and performance, empowering a broad new user base to effortlessly stream HD video, and significantly increase their Wi-Fi range in the home, office, or hotspot zone," Rahul Patel, VP of product marketing for Broadcom's Wireless Connectivity Combo Group, said in a statement.

Broadcom's BCM43162 chip is designed for PCs and notebooks, while the BCM4339 chips is geared toward tablets and smartphones. Both chips are now being tested by early-access customers. Broadcom expects to ramp up production in the second half of the year.

5G Wi-Fi, or 802.11ac, technology has already been popping up in routers and other gear. Broadcom's 5G Wi-Fi technology can be found on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One smartphones. Most PCs and mobile devices are still being outfitted with the current 802.11n standard, but that will start to change over the next year.

"802.11ac chips have started shipping in significant quantity in 2013 and by the end of 2014, 11ac is expected to be included in more than 50 percent of total Wi-Fi ICs (integrated circuits) shipped," Peter Cooney, Practice Director for ABI Research said in a statement. "There will be rapid adoption across many devices with high end smartphones, laptops and tablets leading the race."