Understanding the Effects of Output Power Settings When Evaluating 802.11n Reference Designs

As the popularity of Wi‐Fi continues to increase, especially for high‐performing 802.11n technology, WiFi silicon vendors are striving to demonstrate the maximum possible data rates and throughput for their 802.1n reference designs. Often unmentioned in these demonstrations, however, are the output power settings, which when increased beyond typical levels will improve performance and throughput but can also introduce new issues. 

Some 802.11n reference designs are customized with special power amplifiers so that their output power setting can be raised from a typical +23 dBm (200 mW) to +30 dBm (1,000 mW). While an additional 7 dB (800 mW) of power will likely increase performance for any system, operating at such high power can introduce issues including increased cost, adjacent channel interference, higher battery consumption, and more heat. These power levels may also violate applicable regulations in some domains.  

This paper will illustrate throughput, range and performance under normal power settings, and explore the effects when output power is raised to unusually high settings.