Apple is partnering with Broadcom to bring super-fast 802.11ac networking to upcoming Macs

Apple is partnering with Broadcom to bring super-fast 802.11ac networking to upcoming Macs

While it’s believed that Apple’s 2013 Mac lineup will feature the same designs as their late-2012 counterparts, they are set to include a range of updated internal features and hardware. We’ve learned about one such chipset change – the inclusion of 802.11ac networking — providing Apple’s updated Mac range with super-fast WiFi connectivity.

Sources familiar with Apple’s plans have told The Next Web that Apple has struck a deal with chip maker Broadcom to outfit its new Macs with 802.11ac chips. This will provide a much-needed boost for the standard, which is currently undergoing revisions, as electronics manufacturers look to introduce new consumer products capable of supporting high-speed networks.

802.11ac is often referred to as 5G WiFi, offering faster throughput, higher capacity, wider coverage and improved power efficiency. Products offering 802.11n connectivity (found in most consumer electronics) provide connections up to 450Mbps with three antennas, while 802.11ac equivalents start at 450Mbps for one antennae and are capable of almost tripling its predecessor with 1.3Gbps throughput via three antennas.

In 2011, Apple began including three send and receive antennas in its Thunderbolt-ready MacBook Pro and iMac computers, which offered up to 450Mbps on 5GHz 802.11ac networks. The above figures rely on perfect conditions, but the difference is plain to see.

Apple was also rumored to be adopting 802.11ac WiFi in its products in 2012, but it never materialised.

Broadcom is one of only a small number of chip makers currently providing 802.11ac chipsets, which are aimed at the smartphone, tablet and router markets. While some vendors have introduced 802.11ac networking to notebooks — one being Asus — large scale notebook support is lacking.

According to our sources, the WiFi chip isn’t currently available and is still in development. As for availability, we have been told that if work goes according to schedule, they should be part of the new line of Mac computers. There is no word on whether Apple will introduce similar chipsets in the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Time Capsule or other products.

The implications of a faster wireless standard are huge for Apple. Including 5G WiFi in its Macs will supercharge its AirDrop features and will likely widen to the rest of its product portfolio including its Airport line, allowing for super-quick file transfers, more reliable AirPlay connections, and faster Internet access (should it be supported).

Image Credit: nnova/Flickr

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