What is AzureWave WiFi and How Does It Work

If you check around the Internet, you will find a lot of mystery questions and information related to the name AzureWave Technologies. After doing some quick research, you’ll realize that a lot of them are related to devices that break into Internet connections from unknown devices. 

What is AzureWave WiFi and How Does It Work
What is AzureWave WiFi and How Does It Work

And if you see this company’s name always related to situations where someone is complaining because their WiFi security had been compromised, AzureWave brand will live in you connected with this flimsy memories until you have some clarifying information. 

So considering all the questions coming up, we decided to do some serious research and make this enigma come to an end. Let’s discover what in the world AzureWave really is, what their products can do, why it is happening that people see their name in some security issues with their WiFi networks and what you can do with their devices. 

AzureWave Technologies 

AzureWave Technologies, Inc. is a company that provides basically two different products: wireless connectivity and image processing solutions. 

They are a Taiwanese company with headquarters in the city of Taipei, and other offices in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Hsinchu, San Jose and Tokyo. They compete with giants like ZTE and Huawei that of course have a much bigger capitalization and market piece than them. 

The company follows development related to Industry 4.0, including includes Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things, Cloud, Information Security, 5G and more.  Specifically, their work with Big Data is specialized in both business management and daily production are pushed by machine learning.  

Their image processing products are some cameras with Regular USB interface, Regular MIPI interface, Ultra slim and narrow NB, Ultra-slim and narrow MIPI, and Biological Identification/Depth Detection. 

Regarding their WiFi, BlueTooth and GPS products, they offer networking gear such as WIFI PCIe adapters or sharing devices and WiFi Routers.  

What AzureWave WiFi devices do? 

The reason why you see so often some AzureWave name in weird situations is quite apparent: this is a company that manufacture super small modules enriched with automated processing that allows integration of WiFi accessibility into any devices. 

You can integrate one of those to a legacy device with no need to dedicate a USB port, making it possible to install an AzureWave PCIe adapter in a computer instead of buying a more expensive upgraded equipment. 

And as we said, the reason why there are so many people finding the name of AzureWave in weird situations is just that they provide WiFi servers not only for final individual clients but also as third-party manufacturers for other companies.  

By the way, the first generation of digital media Google’s Chromecast player in 2013, had a dongle that was powered in part by an AzureWave wireless N chip which combined FM radio, BlueTooth and WiFi in a single solution. 

In their website, you find some of their top products, listed as “Wireless Module Product Brief”. They are the 802.11n 1×1, 802.11ac 1×1, 802.11ac 2×2, and WiFi + Microcontroller Unit (MCU).  

If you check those pair of numbers “1×1” and “2×2”, you have to know that this information is related to the data stream chains; “2×2” is multiple input and output MIMO radio chains. 

Considering you want to give a legacy device WiFi connectivity, it is evident that you are not going to go for a 1×1 module. In fact, we don’t even know why AzureWave doesn’t have a 2×2 module version of the MIMO 802.11n.  

It is highly recommended to acquire one of the 802.11ac 2×2 modules and be sure that the WiFi router that you are going to use supports MU-MIMO (multi-user MIMO). Watch out with this because if you miss it, you’ll be held with a single data stream.  

Among those that you need, you can choose between AW-CM276NF, AW-CM389NF and AW-CM235NF. These three models are specially made for TV, gaming, tablet or notebooks that need a module with a small package, low power consumption, OS support and multiple interfaces, and are ok with the standards of 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. They use Orthogonal Frequency Multiplexing (OFDM), DBPSK, DQPSK, CCK and QAM baseband modulation technologies, and Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS). 

AzurWave products security 

We have to say that the best part of Azurewave products it is not precisely related to security. These three products support the IEEE 802.11i norm operating WEP 64- and 128-bit and WPA/WPA2  encryption. And just in case you don’t know, WEP is deprecated, and this is for a strong reason: it is very unsafe and weak against attacks. It’s, by the way, the reason why WPA3 is replacing WPA 2 in everything related to networking gear. 

These three products we are analyzing support the Advanced Encryption Standard, Temporal Key Integrity Protocol, and Counter Mode – Cipher Chaining Message Code Protocol. Still, there as a lot of questions regarding AzureWave gear not supporting a secure 256-bit data encryption. 

The 802-11e Quality of Service (QoS), essential for efficient VoIP and video applications, is supported by both CM276 and CM389. They feature an integrated dual-band called the Manvell 88W8997, a combo system on a chip SoC that WLAN and BlueTooth applications frequently use. 

Which AzureWave product worth to use?  

If you compare all the features that you find in the three analyzed modules, and your main goal is to really improve the performance of your WiFi data device, your choice should be CM235. It supports 802.11e QoS, 802.11i AES,  and BlueTooth 5. In 802.11ac mode, you will get 256-QAM for 20 MHz, channels with 40 and 80 MHz, and delivery data rates raising to 867 Mbps. 

CM235 utilizes the Cypress CYW4354 SoC instead of the Manvell 88W8997, an integrated dual-band circuit that as most of the devices that AzureWave is developing, it will be compatible with 5G. By using a low density parity check codes, CM235 begets improved power efficiency and range, something that is really useful when your WiFi environments are overstressed.  

WiFi MCU Modules 

It is relevant to mention in this article again the WiFi MCU modules. They are microprocessor units that transform random everyday devices into IoT devices by equipping them with WiFi connectivity. Nevertheless, their design is not suitable for mobile devices.  

Some exciting use we can give to these modules is, for example,  to renovate those abandoned surveillance Internet cameras you are not using anymore. Basically, any devices that you can relate with the idea of being old and reviving them for some specific use. If this is the case, you should look for AW-CU300 and AW-CU427-P. 

Both devices deliver 54 Mbps for 802.11g and 72.2 Mbps for 802.11n. The most different aspects of these are that CU300 is not supporting all versions of BlueTooth, and the CU427 supports BlueTooth 4.2. 

Buying AzureWave Modules and finding the latest news 

As you might imagine, AzureWave devices are available for sale on both Amazon and eBay marketspaces, in different stores and sources that will suit you more or less depending on your location. 

Some other sites that can come handy are newegg.com, mitxpc.com, Aliexpress, Joom, Techship or Avnet, this latter the authorized distributor for Europe.  

It is good that you take into account that some of these resellers offer discontinued AzureWave models. This means that you can forget about product support and firmware updates.  

If you want to have updated models that are actually supported by AzureWave, we recommend you to go to visit their official website to have the last products that they are releasing.  

Anyways, you can expect some lack of information related to AzureWave and even about where to buy their products. The reason is quite simple: is a Taiwanese company not very well known in the western world, and even their official website is not very updated. You find some Chinese texts, and a video that is ten years old at the moment this article was written. Yes, from 2010, or ten years before Coronacrisis. 

Final thoughts 

Companies like AzureWave gives us always a lot of mixed feelings. In the one hand, they offer exciting alternatives to tech-savvy users to do funny experiments with some of the old gear you saved precisely waiting to find something like this. In the other hand, you have to accept that it is what it is: some products that will push you through a wild adventure where nothing will be totally safe and secure.  

With headquarters far away from us, not too much information available and devices with some security issues, we say that it is a sweet moment to experiment and have some fun. Their products are quality indeed but don’t reach the highest standards and advances of today’s wireless technology. 

A good example of this last statement is what happened with Google’s Chromecast using AzureWave as a third-party manufacturer for their first generations devices. After those early years, their player dongles did not include AzureWave chipsets anymore. They decided themselves for the Manvell’s Avastar 88W8887, primarily because of radio connectivity. We can make some logical conclusions about this episode. 

Nevertheless, we are not Google, and we have other expectations of this kind of devices. If your projects are not going to suffer from AzureWave limitations, go for it. You will have fun for sure. 

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