With CES right around the corner, we’re about to be buried in a deluge of announcements from consumer electronics vendors. Since I was not able to get out to CES in person this year, Qualcomm offered to give me a sneak peek at their new “Streamboost” technology they’ve just announced and will be showing at CES. I got to spend some time on the phone with Ciera Jammal, their PR rep and Michael Cubbage, Director of Business Development in their networking unit. For those of you that may not recognize Michael’s name, he was one of the co-founders of Bigfoot Networks that brought us their “Killer Gaming” line of Ethernet and wireless products. Acquired by Qualcomm in the fall of 2011, the merged Bigfoot and Qualcomm teams have now released “Streamboost”.
So, what is Streamboost you ask? Simply put, it’s an innovative Quality of Service engine that’s much, much more than what’s available for consumer QoS today. QoS on most current consumer products only looks at what ports traffic is flowing across and prioritizes the traffic based on a simple list of what ports should be given priority at the expense of traffic on lower priority ports. There’s no analysis of what the actual traffic is and in cases where different types of traffic flows over the same port (port 80 for example) it doesn’t offer any benefit at all. The Streamboost engine on the other hand, will actually inspect the packets in real time, determining not only what port the traffic is using, but what the traffic actually is. So for example, Streamboost will be able actually be able to tell that one stream is 1080p YouTube video while another is Standard Definition Netflix traffic, even though they are both on port 80, and give both streams the bandwidth they need.
Once the engine determines what type of data is moving through the connection, it will give that connection the bandwidth it needs to run optimally, but no more. The “no more” piece is important because it frees up bandwidth for other applications and connections. If there is not enough bandwidth available for the “Optimal” setting, it will then drop back and make every effort to give the connection what’s been determined to be the “Minimum acceptable” bandwidth needed for that type of traffic.
How does Streamboost know what bandwidth is Optimal and what bandwidth is Minimum? Well, Qualcomm has studied various types of traffic ranging from YouTube to Netflix to Call of Duty to torrents, and they’ve come up with the Optimal and Minimum bandwidth values for all types of traffic. This data will be included in a “Detection and Policy Table” on the router that the Streamboost engine will reference. My first thoughts when I heard this was that it sounded great, but what happens when that table gets out of date? Qualcomm has thought of that as well and Streamboost includes an opt-in, cloud based service that will keep your router’s table up to date. Not only that, but if the router encounters a new type of traffic not in its table, it will capture a few packets and send them up to the cloud (anonymized of course) to be analyzed and added to future table updates. Your router should actually perform better as it’s table is updated and will be better after a year than it was on Day 1. However, if you’re not interested in being part of the “Opt In crowd”, the engine can also be manually updated at any time.
The UI looks great and will let you drill down into your bandwidth use either by application or device. Speaking of devices, Streamboost can detect the various types of devices on your network and lets you prioritize based on those criteria as well.
D-Link and Alienware are the first two partners onboard with Streamboost and will be showing routers with the technology at CES as well as releasing them this spring. All in all, after speaking to Qualcomm, I think I’m going to hold off my planned router upgrade until I can get my hands on a new router with Streamboost built in.
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Qualcomm Introduces StreamBoost Technology to Optimize Performance and Capacity of Home Networks
— Alienware, D-Link Among First to Demonstrate StreamBoost-Enabled 802.11ac Routers to Control and Optimize Bandwidth in the Connected Home —
LAS VEGAS — January 4, 2013 — Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., introduced StreamBoost™ technology for Wi-Fi® routers and gateways. By intelligently managing a home’s broadband connection, Qualcomm StreamBoost gives each device and each application the bandwidth it needs to ensure the best possible experiences in the connected home. In conjunction with this introduction, Alienware and D-Link Systems, Inc. will be demonstrating StreamBoost routers based on Qualcomm VIVE™ 802.11ac technology for Gigabit-class Wi-Fi at International CES. Streamboost routers will be available to consumers this spring at e-commerce and retail outlets in North America, Europe and Asia.
Currently, the average home connects up to seven devices to the Internet, and this number is expected to grow considerably in the next five years. Due to limited bandwidth, users are increasingly frustrated by the effects of network congestion: streaming movies freeze, gaming sessions lag, and online surfing slows. While the new 802.11ac standard was designed to address increasingly crowded networks, StreamBoost technology combined with 802.11ac takes networking to the next level. While Qualcomm VIVE 802.11ac provides up to 1.3 Gbps PHY rate of Wi-Fi capacity, Qualcomm StreamBoost provides a superior connected experience to users of all devices on a home network by managing and shaping traffic, and giving each connected device and application the priority and bandwidth required for optimal performance.
“StreamBoost provides users with advanced control over their home networks to enable the first truly smart, connected homes,” said Frank Azor, general manager, Alienware. “This technology will provide gamers with a more reliable and better performing online gaming experience, whether there are two, 12 or 20 devices using the network simultaneously.”
Qualcomm StreamBoost also incorporates an opt-in, cloud-based service that continually increases the intelligence of the router, allowing new applications and devices to be identified and optimally managed as they are added to a network. StreamBoost’s interface makes understanding and using routers more intuitive than ever before. For the first time, users can view all computers, tablets, phones and other connected devices on the home’s network—as well as the applications they are using, and the real-time bandwidth usage of each application and device—on one easy-to-use StreamBoost interface.
“Our goal at D-Link is to ensure each consumer has the best possible online experience,” said Dan Kelley, associate vice president of marketing, D-Link Systems, Inc. “StreamBoost gives us a way to make sure every person using the network will have an optimal experience, regardless of application usage.”
“The explosion of media enjoyed on a variety of devices presents a conflict in the home network,” said Dan Rabinovitsj, senior vice president and general manager, networking business unit, Qualcomm Atheros. “Web surfing competes with streaming video, video chat competes with games, and downloads compete with everything. In the practical use case of a connected home, bandwidth will always be limited, but intelligent network management helps address this. We created Qualcomm StreamBoost to recognize and optimally allocate network traffic, providing users with the best Internet performance possible on all connected devices—right out of the box.”
Qualcomm Atheros will be demonstrating VIVE 802.11ac router products and StreamBoost technology in the Qualcomm exhibit at 2013 International CES in Las Vegas on January 8-11 (LVCC, South Hall 3 – 30313). Qualcomm Atheros will also demonstrate StreamBoost technology at ShowStoppers® on January 8 in the Lafite Ballroom at the Wynn Hotel Las Vegas. D-Link will demonstrate its new StreamBoost router at the Venetian in the San Polo Meeting Room (#3402) during CES.
About Qualcomm Incorporated
Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) is the world leader in 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technologies. Qualcomm Incorporated includes Qualcomm’s licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of its patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of Qualcomm’s engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of its products and services businesses, including its semiconductor business, QCT. For more than 25 years, Qualcomm ideas and inventions have driven the evolution of digital communications, linking people everywhere more closely to information, entertainment and each other. For more information, visit Qualcomm’s website, OnQ blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.
Qualcomm VIVE and Qualcomm StreamBoost are products of Qualcomm Atheros, Inc.
Qualcomm Atheros is a trademark of Qualcomm Atheros, Inc. Qualcomm is a trademark of Qualcomm Incorporated. Wi-Fi is a registered trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance. All other trademarks are the sole property of their respective owners.