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Broadcom Unveils 2nd-Gen Wi-Fi 7 Chips: BCM6765, BCM47722, and BCM4390

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Broadcom has some news that might give folks who already bought a Wi-Fi 7 router a hint of FoMO. The company today announced its second-generation chipset solutions for the Wi-Fi 7 standard, including the BCM6765, the BCM47722, and the BCM4390.

"Second-gen" because the chip maker shipped the first-gen more than a year ago, in April 2022, for which it released new special front-end modules a couple of weeks ago. The new chips add more options to the ecosystems.

Considering the current scarcity of Wi-Fi 7 devices, it's safe to say Wi-Fi 7 is still significantly under development, yet it has also evolved fast.

Broadcom Wi-Fi 7 2nd-Gen chips: BCM6765, BCM47722, and BCM4390
Broadcom 2nd-Gen Wi-Fi 7 chips: BCM6765, BCM47722, and BCM4390

Three new and improved chips for all things Wi-Fi 7

Like the last time, Broadcom says its new chipset solutions span all applications, including Wi-Fi routers, residential gateways, enterprise access points, and client devices. They all add "additional functionality to a wider market" compared to the company's first-generation counterparts.

Broadcom's 2nd-gen Wi-Fi 7 release includes three system-on-chips (SoCs). They are little hardware components that play a crucial part inside an actual Wi-Fi 7 device, such as a router or a computer.

The first two, the BCM6765 and BCM47722, are for the broadcasting side (access points, routers, or residential gateway), and the third, the BCM4390, is for the receiving end—Wi-Fi 7 clients.

New to Wi-Fi 7? The cabinet below will fill you in.

Wi-Fi 7 in brief

Wi-Fi 7 has four major improvements over existing standards.

1. The all-new 320MHz channel width

The first thing to note about Wi-Fi 7 is the new and much wider channel width, up to 320MHz, or double that of Wi-Fi 6/6E.

This new channel width is generally available on the 6GHz band, with up to three 320MHz channels. However, Wi-Fi 7 can also combine portions of the 6GHz and 5GHz bands to create this new bandwidth—more in the Multi-Link Operation section below.

Details of Wi-Fi channels can be found here, but the new channel width generally means Wi-Fi 7 can double the base speed, from 1.2Gbps per stream (160MHz) to 2.4Gbps per stream (320MHz).

So, in theory, just from the width alone, a 4x4 broadcaster 6GHz Wi-Fi 7 can have up to 9.6 Gbps of bandwidth—or 10Gbps when rounded up. But there's more to Wi-Fi 7's bandwidth below.

Wi-Fi 7 also supports double the partial streams, up to 16. As a result, technically, a 16-stream (16x16) Wi-Fi 7 6GHz band can deliver up to over 40Gbps of bandwidth, especially when considering the new QAM support below.

Like Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, initially, Wi-Fi 7 will be available as dual-stream (2x2) and quad-stream (4x4) broadcasters and dual-stream clients. In the future, the standard might have 8x8 broadcasters and single-stream or quad-stream clients.

Again, you need a compatible client to use the new 320MHz channel width. Existing clients will connect using 160MHz at best. In reality, the 160MHz will likely be the realistic sweet-spot bandwidth of Wi-Fi 7, just like the 80MHz in the case of Wi-Fi 6.

2. The 4K-QAM

QAM, short for quadrature amplitude modulation, manipulates the radio wave to pack more information in the Hertz.

Wi-Fi 6 supports 1024-QAM, which itself is already impressive. However, Wi-Fi 7 will have four times that, or 4096-QAM. Greater QAM means better performance for the same channel width.

As a result, Wi-Fi 7 will be much faster and more efficient than previous standards when working with supported clients.

Wi-F 7 vs. Wi-Fi 6/6E: The realistic real-world speeds

With the support for the wider channel width and higher QAM, Wi-Fi 7 is set to be much faster than previous standards on paper.

You might have read somewhere that Wi-Fi 7 is "up to 4.8 times faster than Wi-Fi 6," and hardware vendors will continue to combine the theoretical bandwidth of a broadcaster's all bands into a single colossal number—such as BE19000, BE22000, or BE33000—which is excellent for advertising.

Like always, these numbers don't mean much, and things are not that simple. In reality, a Wi-Fi connection generally happens on a single band at a time—that's always true for Wi-Fi 6E and older clients—and is also limited by the client's specs.

The table below summarizes what you can expect from Wi-Fi 7's real-world organic performance compared to Wi-Fi 6E when working on the 6GHz.

Wi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 7
Max Channel Bandwidth
(theoretical/top-tier equipment)
Channel Bandwidth
(widely implemented)
Number of Available Channels7x 160MHz, or 14x 80MHz channels3x 320MHz, or
7x 160MHz channels, or
14x 80MHz channels
Highest Modulation 1024-QAM4096-QAM
Max Number
of Spatial Streams
(theoretical on paper / commercially implemented)
8 / 416 / 8 (estimate)
Max Bandwidth
Per Stream
1.2Gbps (at 160MHz)
600Mbps (at 80MHz)
2.9Gbps (at 320MHz)
1.45Gbps (at 160MHz)
Max Band Bandwidth
(theoretical on paper)
Commercial Max Band Bandwidth Per Band
(commercially implemented)
23Gbps (8x8), or
11.5Gbps (4x4)
Available Max Real-word Negotiated Speeds(*)2.4Gbps (via a 2x2 160MHz client)
1.2Gbps (via a 2x2 80MHz client)
11.5Gbps (via a 4x4 320MHz client)
5.8Gbps (via a 2x2 320MHz client or a 4x4 160MHz client)
2.9Gbps (via a single stream 320MHz client or a 2x2 160MHz client)
1.45Gbps (via a single stream 160MHz client or a 2x2 80MHz client)
Available Clients
(Intel AX210)
(Intel BE200 / Qualcomm NCM865)
Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 7: Theoretical data rates on the 6GHz band
(*) The actual negotiated speed depends on the client, Wi-Fi 7 specs, and environment. Real-world sustained rates are generally much lower than negotiated speeds—capping at about two-thirds at best. Wi-Fi 6/6E has had only 2x2 clients. Wi-Fi 7 will also use 2x2 clients primarily, but it might have 4x4 and even single-stream (1x1) clients.

Like Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, Wi-Fi 7 has been available only in 2x2 specs on the client side. That, plus the sweet-spot 160MHz channel width, means, generally, it's safe to conservatively expect real-world rates of the mainstream Wi-Fi 7 (160MHz) to be about 20% faster than top-tier Wi-Fi 6E (160MHz) counterparts.

However, the new standard does have more bandwidth on the broadcasting side. So, it can handle more 2x2 clients simultaneously with high-speed real-world rates. And that's always a good thing.

Multi-Link Operation, or MLO, is the most exciting and promising feature of Wi-Fi 7 that changes the norm of Wi-Fi: Up to Wi-Fi 6E, a Wi-Fi connection between two direct devices occurs in a single band, using a fixed channel at a time—they use a single link to transmit data.

It's worth noting that MLO is a feature and not the base of the standard, meaning it can be supported by a particular device or not. It's not expected to be universally available until late 2024.

In a nutshell, MLO is Wi-Fi band aggregation. Like Link Aggregation (or bonding) in wired networking, it allows combining two or more Wi-Fi bands into a single Wi-Fi link—one SSID and connection.

There are two MLO operation modes:

  • STR-MLMR MLO (Simultaneous Transmit and Receive Multi-Link Multi-Radio): It's multi-link aggregation using all three bands (2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz) to deliver higher throughput, lower latency, and better reliability.
  • E-MLSR MLO (Enhanced Multi-Link Single Radio): It's multi-link using dynamic band switching between 5GHz and 6GHz to deliver load balancing and lower latency.

No matter which mode is used, the gist is that the bonded link delivers "better" connection quality and "more" bandwidth.

It's important to note, though, that at the end of the day, MLO increases the bandwidth, allowing different applications on a client to use the two bands simultaneously. The point here is that no application on the client can have a connection speed faster than the fastest band involved. A speedtest application, for example, still uses one of the bands at a time. This connection speed is still limited by the hardware specs on both ends of the link, whichever is lower.

So, the MLO feature affords a supported client the best probability of connecting successfully at the highest possible speed using the fastest band at any given time, which changes depending on the distance between the client and the broadcaster.

MLO can be a game-changer in a wireless mesh network by fortifying the Wi-Fi link between broadcasters—the backhaul—both in terms of speed and reliability. Most systems I've tested had the sustained wireless backhauling link over 5Gbps at 40 feet away. In systems with wired backhauling, MLO can make seamless handoff (or roaming) genuinely seamless.

For clients, in more ways than one, MLO is the best alternative to the existing so-called "Smart Connect"—using one SSID (network name) and password for all the bands of a broadcaster—which doesn't always work as smartly as expected.

In fact, you can think of MLO as the enhanced version of Smart Connect. Specifically, MLO requires Smart Connect for the broadcaster's primary SSID. As a result, if the hardware doesn't allow for additional virtual SSIDs, segmenting a network via different SSIDs (such as one for each band) is no longer an option. In other words, with MLO, you have to choose between the following in terms of SSIDs:

  • Having a primary SSID (via Smart Connect), which is MLO-enabled, and an optional 2nd virtual MLO-enabled SSID. Or
  • Turning off Smart Connect to manage the band individually and losing the MLO option.

Additionally, keep the following in mind about this feature:

  • By nature, link bonding will be more complicated than single-band connectivity—there are just too many variables.
  • MLO only works with supported Wi-Fi 7 clients. Some Wi-Fi 7 clients might not support it. Considering the different performance grades and hardware variants, the result of MLO will vary case by case.
  • Wi-Fi 6E and older clients will still use a single band at a time when connecting to a MLO SSID.
  • An MLO SSID requires the WPA2 or higher encryption method and generally won't work with first-gen Wi-Fi 5 or older clients.
  • The reach of the bonded wireless link is as far as the range of the shorter band.

By default, the 6GHz band has just about 75% of the range of the 5GHz when the same broadcasting power is applied. That said, MLO can only be truly meaningful with the help of Wi-Fi 7's fifth and optional feature, Automated Frequency Coordination, mentioned below.

4. Flexible Channel Utilization (FCU) and Multi-RU

Flexible Channel Utilization (FCU) (a.k.a. Preamble Puncturing) and Multi-RU are two other items that help increase Wi-Fi 7's efficiency.

With FCU, Wi-Fi 7 handles interference more gracefully by slicing off the portion of a channel with interference, 20MHz at a time, and keeping the clean part usable.

In contrast, in Wi-Fi 6/6E, when there's interference, an entire channel can be taken out of commission. FCU is the behind-the-scenes technology that increases Wi-Fi's efficiency, similar to the case of MU-MIMO and OFDMA.

Similarly, with Wi-Fi 6/6E, each device can only send or receive frames on an assigned resource unit (RU), which significantly limits the flexibility of the spectrum resource scheduling. Wi-Fi 7 allows multiple RUs to be given to a single device and can combine RUs for increased transmission efficiency.

5. Automated Frequency Coordination

Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) is an optional feature and deals with the 6GHz band, so it's not Wi-Fi 7-exclusive—the band was first used with Wi-Fi 6E. It's not required for a Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster's general function. In fact, it wasn't even mentioned in the initial certification by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Due to local regulations, the 6GHz band's availability differs around the world. For this reason, some Wi-Fi 7 broadcasters will not adopt it and will remain Dual-band.

Still, Wi-Fi 7 makes AFC more relevant than ever. That's because the 6GHz band has the highest bandwidth (fastest) yet the shortest range compared to the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands when using the maximum allowed broadcasting power. Originally, AFC was intended only for outdoor applications, but when implemented, it's significant for all applications.

Here's how AFC would work when/if available:

The feature enables a 6GHz broadcaster to check with a registered database in real-time to confirm that its operation will not negatively impact other existing registered members. Once that's established, the broadcaster creates a dynamically exclusive environment in which its 6GHz band can operate without the constraint of regulations.

Specifically, the support for AFC means each Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster can use more broadcasting power and better flexible antenna designs. How much more? That depends.

However, it's estimated that AFC can increase the broadcasting power to 36 dBm (from the current 30 dBm limit) or 4 watts (from 1 wat). The goal of AFC is to make the range of the 6GHz band comparable to that of the 5GHz band—about 25% more.

When that happens, the MLO feature above will be truly powerful. But even then, Wi-Fi 7's range will remain the same as that of Wi-Fi 6, which is available only on the 5GHz band. Its improvement is that its 6GHz band now has a more extended reach than in Wi-Fi 6E. In other words, AFC allows the 6GHz band to have at least the same range as the 5GHz. And that's significant.

This feature requires certification, and its availability is expected to vary from one region to another. Hardware released before that is said to be capable of handling AFC, which, when applicable, can be turned on via firmware updates.

A crude AFC analogy

Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) is like checking with the local authorities for permission to close off sections of city streets for a drag race block party.

When approved, the usual traffic and parking laws no longer apply to the area, and the organizers can determine how fast traffic can flow, etc.

BCM6765: Built for residential access points (and home Wi-Fi routers)

According to Broadcom, the BCM6765 is a highly optimized residential access point. It enables the mass production of low-cost Wi-Fi 7 access points and repeaters.

The BCM6765's key features include the following:

  • Integrated Quad-Core ARMv8 CPU with 10G Ethernet PHY
  • Dual 2x2 Tri-band (2.4, 5, and 6 GHz) radios that support simultaneous operation in any band.
  • Integrated 2.4 GHz power amplifiers and support for Digital Pre-distortion (DPD) external FEMs for reduced power consumption.
  • 4096-QAM modulation and 320 MHz channel bandwidth for an 8.64 Gbps PHY rate.
  • Multi-link operation (MLO) with up to 3-link support on SoC and SpeedBooster support.
  • Compliance with IEEE, WFA Wi-Fi 7, and Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) specifications.

BCM47722: Built for enterprise access points

The BCM47722 shares similar characteristics as the BCM6765 above while simultaneously supporting IoT wireless standards, including Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Zigbee, Thread, and Matter protocols. Broadcom says this SoC "addresses the growing needs of Internet of Things (IoT) applications in the enterprise Wi-Fi market."

The BCM47722's key features include the following:

  1. Integrated Quad-Core ARMv8 CPU with 10G Ethernet PHY
    Dual 2x2 tri-band (2.4, 5, and 6 GHz) capable radios that support simultaneous operation in any band.
  2. Integrated 2.4 GHz power amplifiers and support for Digital Pre-distortion (DPD) external FEMs for reduced power consumption.
  3. 4096-QAM modulation and 320 MHz channel bandwidth for an 8.64 Gbps PHY rate.
  4. Multi-link operation (MLO) with up to 3-link support on SoC and SpeedBooster support.
  5. Integrated dual radio Bluetooth Low-Energy, Thread, Zigbee, and Matter Support. Compliance with IEEE, WFA Wi-Fi 7, Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) specifications, Bluetooth 5.4 standard, and future draft specifications such as Channel Sounding.

BCM4390: A chip for 2x2 Wi-Fi 7 client

The BCM4390 is a low-power Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 802.15.4 combo chip designed Wi-Fi 7 receiver, such as handsets and tablets. It supports 160 MHz Dual-stream (2x2) Wi-Fi operation, dual Bluetooth, and IoT standards (Zigbee, Thread, and Matter) to service a broad set of mobile applications.

Its key features include the following:

  1. Dual radio that supports simultaneous 2-stream 2.4 GHz and 2-stream 5GHz/6GHz Wi-Fi 7 operation.
  2. 4096-QAM modulation and 160 MHz channel bandwidth for a 3.2 Gbps PHY rate.
  3. Integrated Bluetooth Classic and Low-Energy, Thread, and Zigbee Support
  4. Client multi-link operation (MLO) and SpeedBooster support.
  5. Compliance with IEEE and WFA Wi-Fi 7. Supports Bluetooth 5.4 and future draft specifications such as Channel Sounding.

This chip is significant since it determines the actual connection speed of a Wi-Fi 7 device which, in this case, maxes out at 3.2Gbps. That's half the ceiling speed of the previous first-gen 320MHz-capable chip—the BCM4398—but still significantly faster than 2.4Gbps of Wi-Fi 6/6E and, after overhead, will likely at over 2Gbps, enough to qualify as multi-Gigabit.

Additionally, the BCM4390's new support for IoT wireless standards and Bluetooth means its real-world usage will be versatile and flexible. Wi-Fi 7 is just part of what it can do.

Availability and the takeaway

Broadcom says it's sampling these second-generation Wi-Fi 7 chips to OEM hardware makers. Chances are, devices with them on the inside will be available sometime later this year.

So far, Wi-Fi 7 has enjoyed rapid adoption thanks to its increased bandwidth and valuable features, including multi-link operation (MLO) and Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC). And that's a good thing.

These new chips don't render Broadcom's first-gen chips obsolete—they are actually inferior in some aspects. Instead, they fill in more slots to make the company's Wi-Fi 7 ecosystem more complete. And the practical support for IoT connectivity is a sensible touch.

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7 thoughts on “Broadcom Unveils 2nd-Gen Wi-Fi 7 Chips: BCM6765, BCM47722, and BCM4390”

  1. In this “race to bottom” with overpriced Wifi7 hardware, this chip launch is a welcome relief. $600-700 for a Wifi7 router is a crime. Then the CEOs will go on cringe press releases that people on this planet are not worthy enough to buy their overpriced devices and how they will have to announce layoffs and take cut in yearly bonus.

    Sarcasm aside, Give me a Wifi7 router with 2×2 streams 320 Mhz channel width and two 10G Ethernet/SFP+ combo WAN/LAN ports and for $300. I am sick of dumb names like GT-BE10000000000000000 and that big number has no bearing on actual 2×2 stream devices 99.99% people have.

  2. Well, real world speeds in a brick, two-story house for a Wifi 6 , 3 routers network are so close to Wifi 5 Wave 2 speeds, and the difference in price from the previous standard is so ridiculously high that I discarded plans to jump to Wifi 6, let alone 7. With the price of one good Wifi 6 router (say, TP-Link AX6000) one can buy 3 3-stream AC2300 routers and use link them as AP or through WDS.
    Besides, to my disappointment I found that Wifi 6 and 7 weren’t meant to increase speeds for one particular user, but to solve some congestion issues when MANY users were connected. QAM over 256 is useless in average homes (yes, even 1024, let alone 4096) and 160 hz channels usage is almost snake oil.
    Add to this doubling in power usage and huge price increases and things are pretty clear : the average dude that just wants stable 866 Mbs link rate at his phone or 300 Mbs on 2,4 Ghz when he’s in the attic will save his money and stay with his Wifi 5 Wave 2 routers.

  3. Great information as always. The BCM6765 chip is important to me because I’m 100% WiFi, no wires. Before buying a mesh system, I’ll wait for them to add this chip.


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