Dissecting the latest Aruba Access Point

By Keith Parsons, Contributor
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Dissecting the latest Aruba Access Point

Attending conferences is a great way to learn. Learn about the changes to the operating systems, new features, and of course a great way to network with new friends, and hang out with old friends.

But this year's Atmosphere 2016 added an entirely new type of learning. Learning about the guts of Aruba's latest Access Point offerings.

The session was Anatomy of an AP by Onno Harms of Product Management.

I loved it!

OK, I know that is a bit over the top, but I actually really, really enjoyed seeing how Aruba Access Points are designed, layer by layer. Onno did a dissection of the 320 series AP's from the outside in and covered all the components in a 'anatomy'-like fashion.

Anatomy of an Access Point


I highly recommend you watch the YouTube recording of this session so you can see all the gory details…

We learned all sorts of cool statistics about Aruba's hardware, like the Mean Time Between Failure is a whopping 57 years! – well past the projected 10 year life of an AP (5 in active services and 5 more in "retirement" while still under support).

They even were able to source an X-ray of one of these new generation Access Points.


I always knew AP's needed to pass a "Plenum Rating" test… but to actually see one in the furnace – that was a first as well.


It would have been even better if Onno had more time to delve into the decisions and though processes behind the choices of each and every component he mentioned… like what were the reasons behind the Power Amplifier/Low-Noise Amplifier choices and how they compare to SOHO/SMB vendor's choices and how it effects the EVM… but not enough time.

Staying with the 'anatomy' analogy, we learned an Aruba AP is a bit 'handicapped' when less than a full PoE power budget is lost – like the 2.4GHz radio goes into 1x1 mode, and the USB port goes inactive along with the second Ethernet port. The 'non-handicap' version is to feed this AP the full 802.3at power up to 25.5 watts to keep all features humming properly.

Onno even covered details about where all that power goes… from a starting point of 20 watts, only 1.5 watts of raw power come out a combination of all RF across all six antennas… leaving a HUGE 18.5 watts of power going into heat… no wonder the entire base plate is one big heat sink!

We all need to learn and understand the new naming nomenclature for MU MIMO… not all new 802.11ac Access Points are created equally.


How does your favorite 802.11ac Access Point do in the MU MIMO space?


If you really want to learn about what goes into the development of an Aruba Access Point, it is well worth your time to watch this presentation. Thanks to Onno Harms for a wonderful presentation!