Previously, Zhong Lin of Jinjiang Sanwu Microelectronics Co., Ltd. pointed out that MediaTek's WiFi chip has the highest market share in the router market and the Internet of Things market, and he is the king of cost performance.
However, for the current domestic manufacturers who are committed to WiFi 6 chips, before talking about the price-performance competition, they need to pay more attention to the challenges that still exist in the research and development of WiFi 6 chips.
Zhong Lin of Jinjiang Sanwu Microelectronics Co., Ltd. once pointed out that according to the feedback from domestic companies, there are two difficulties in the development of WiFi6 chips: the underlying protocol/communication protocol + algorithm and the radio frequency front end (PA+LNA+SW). Compared with WiFi 4 and WiFi 5, the underlying protocols and algorithms of WiFi 6 chips are more complex, and the RF front-end design is also more difficult. However, the performance of the RF front-end is not up to standard, and the Wi-Fi 6 chip will not come out.
Therefore, with the development of the WiFi 6 chip market, the WiFi 6 RF front-end market is also a focus of attention - how to design a lower power consumption, high linearity, high integration and high anti-noise Wi-Fi 6 front-end RF The product is the challenge ahead, and for the WiFi 6 RF front-end field, there is also competition from another group of manufacturers.
In this field, Qorvo and Skyworks are both leaders in the field of WiFi 6 FEM, and with the outbreak of the domestic WiFi 6 market, local manufacturers including Zhuoshengwei, Sanwuwei and Shanghai Kangxi are all laying out the WiFi 6 FEM market.
It should be noted that the router and IoT markets also have different needs. According to the introduction of relevant persons, from a design point of view, IoT WiFi rarely has external FEM, but router WiFi generally adopts external FEM mode. Integrated WiFi and WiFi FEM are used on mobile phones, while high-end mobile phones often choose an external WiFi FEM. Therefore, this also provides a variety of ways for domestic manufacturers to break out of the WiFi FEM market.
Another difficulty of the WiFi 6 chip is the underlying protocol/communication protocol + algorithm. Zhong Lin once pointed out in the article "Sanwuwei will help domestic WIFI6 chips succeed" that the solution to the underlying protocol/communication protocol is to understand the protocol standard more and do more testing, while the algorithm is the core competitiveness and requires a high level of design.
He pointed out that domestic WIFI6 chip companies cannot do without two foreign IP companies, CEVA and Imagination. In terms of progress, in August 2020, CEVA has been able to provide a complete set of WiFi 6 IP ranging from 1x1 20 MHz for low-power IoT devices to applications including smartphones, smart TVs, access points and wireless MIMO 80/160MHz Wi-Fi 6 and 6E for high-end products such as infrastructure.
Imagination also launched products related to WiFi 6 IP in June last year. Also of note is that in December last year, Nordic Semiconductor announced the acquisition of the entire Imagination Ensigma Wi-Fi development team and related Ensigma Wi-Fi IP technology assets, extending its wireless expertise into WiFi.
There are also reports that, given that Nordic is a company focusing on the IoT market, its Wi-Fi product form is likely to appear in the form of SoC or SiP, so Wifi 6 should also be their best entry point.
Based on the above information, whether from the perspective of the WiFi 6 terminal market or the challenges faced by the WiFi 6 chip, WiFi 6 has given semiconductor manufacturers a lot of room for development. With continuous layout, perhaps the competition for WiFi 6 chips has just begun...
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