Tom Soderstrom, the IT Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), recently wrote an article titled “The Next Computing Wave: Ultra Powerful, Ultra-Accelerated, Ultra Connected.” The article, published on MeriTalk, touches on a number of topics, including Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), 5G, quantum computing, and the Cloud.
Wi-Fi 6 & the IoT
As Soderstrom observes, Wi-Fi 6 is nothing less than a “breakthrough technology” in the wireless arena.
“It’s coming soon, and it’s built for IoT. It will connect many, many more people to mobile devices, household appliances, or public utilities, such as the power grid and traffic lights,” he states. “The transfer rates with Wi-Fi 6 are expected to improve anywhere from four times to 10 times current speeds, with a lower power draw, i.e. while using less electricity.”
According to Soderstrom, IoT devices (aka sensors) will create and store massive amounts of data in the Cloud – all the time.
“The flexibility of the Cloud allows service providers and developers at home and in enterprises to modify applications in near-real time,” he explains. “In fact, almost all AI-based applications or machine learning programs will be built in the Cloud, including the wireless apps used in retail, manufacturing, transportation and more.”
Wi-Fi 6 & Increased Power Efficiency
As Soderstrom succinctly notes, Wi-Fi 6 is more power-efficient than its predecessors. As we’ve previously discussed here at The Ruckus Room, this is made possible by a technology known as Target Wake Time (TWT). Essentially, TWT enables devices to determine when and how frequently they will wake up to send or receive data. In real-world terms, this allows wireless Wi-Fi 6 access points (APs) to increase device sleep time and significantly conserve battery life, a feature that is particularly important for the IoT. In addition to saving power on the client device side, Target Wake Time enables wireless access points and devices to negotiate and define specific times to access the medium. This helps optimize spectral efficiency by reducing contention and overlap between users.
The Origins of Target Wake Time
The Target Wake Time mechanism first appeared in the IEEE 802.11ah “Wi-Fi HaLow” standard. Published in 2017, the low-power standard is specifically designed to support the large-scale deployment of IoT infrastructure – such as stations and sensors – that intelligently coordinate signal sharing. The TWT feature further evolved with the Wi-Fi 6 standard, as stations and sensors are now only required to wake and communicate with the specific beacons transmitting instructions for the TWT broadcast sessions they belong to. This allows the wireless Wi-Fi 6 standard to optimize power saving for many devices, with more reliable, deterministic and LTE-like performance.
Wi-Fi 6 is the latest generation of Wi-Fi that bridges the performance gap towards ten gigabit speeds. It delivers faster network performance, connects more devices simultaneously and effectively transitions Wi-Fi from a best-effort endeavor to a deterministic wireless technology that is now the de-facto medium for internet connectivity. Deployed in dense device environments – such as those created by the IoT – Wi-Fi 6 supports higher service-level agreements (SLAs) to more concurrently connected users and devices with more diverse usage profiles. This is made possible by a range of features that optimize spectral efficiency, increase throughput and reduce power consumption. In addition to TWT, these include Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO), Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), BSS Coloring and 1024-QAM.