7 Key Technologies to Know in 2022

PCIe 5.0 … Wi-Fi 6E … DDR5. I thought you had a head already filled with technical abbreviations? Get ready for a new dose. A wave of new and accelerating technologies will change the way we use our PCs, smartphones, TVs and many other types of equipment in 2022 and beyond. How to track them all?

Here’s a disorganizer. Below we break down the seven best you need to know – why they are important and whether they are harbingers of what you need to update right now (or want to soon). Some of them have been used as standards or protocols for years, but manufacturers are just beginning to integrate them into products. If you’re used to viewing the specs for the next phone or laptop update, be prepared for these items to appear. Others are bona fide residents who expect exciting features, even if most people don’t buy them in products this year.

And no, we are no touching on the biggest new technologies in 2022 and beyond when you had to hop on the rush train Big Tech: the metaworld. You may argue that this is the place here, but now it’s a more nebulous virtual realm than the technology you’ll have to fight (against the railroad? Put up with?) In the 22nd. So you won’t find it below.

Here’s to the future!

5G C-band

For 5G to offer an experience that is noticeably better than 4G, it needs wide dedicated channels, ideally 50 MHz or more. Enter the C-range. This small piece of radio spectrum, covering about 3.7 GHz to 3.98 GHz, has huge prospects for people who were frustrated by the inappropriate introduction of 5G in the US last year.

Verizon and AT&T customers with 5G-compliant devices will benefit the most now that C-band cellular sites are included nationwide. T-Mobile will also add C-band frequencies to its network, but probably not before 2023 or later. The initial deployment of the C-band was complicated in January by conflicts with existing radio equipment used for aviation; if you live near a major airport, you may not get C-band coverage for a while. (Check out our tutorial, what is a C-Band? To learn more about this important wireless technology.)

Ultra-wideband (UWB)

Unlike the C-band, the second frequency that appears on our list will not help you achieve better signal strength or higher download speeds. Instead, ultra-wideband (UWB) is a transmission protocol that has existed for decades but is now poised to include a new class of low-tech but connected devices. The name “ultra-wideband” comes from the ability to transmit information in a wide radio band, from 500 MHz to several GHz. This gives UWB-compatible devices a short range, but is very useful for products like Apple AirTags that help find lost items.

Apple AirTags on piano keys

Apple AirTags: UWB finds its niche (Image: Shutterstock)

In fact, searching for lost things is a great example of how UWB is finding its niche, as opposed to being an alternative to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth (which really isn’t very good). Other real possibilities for UWB include using it in smart locks for passive keyless entry, which means the technician can detect not only when you are approaching, but also when you are inside a building or car or outside. (It may even start the car for you.) And it can cause a new wave of garage door openings that don’t require you to press buttons.

You may not even have a debit card when approaching an ATM, or not carry a credit card to pay, as the robot in the travel window will know you are expecting french fries and shake. (To learn more about UWB, read our explanation of what ultra-wideband is?)

Mini LED screens

LCD panels with backlit mini LEDs use a set of tiny LEDs on the back of the display. This arrangement of Mini-LED creates many areas that can be dimmed or illuminated independently. This is a significant improvement over conventional panel lighting designs, which typically have only a thin strip of LEDs along the edges and one dimming zone.

Why is it so good? The larger the dimming zones, the more detailed the brightness and intensity control and the more accurate the colors the screen can display. Sure, it’s important for photographers and filmmakers, but it also means that all HDR content looks incredible. So if you’re using a lot of gear or movies processed for HDR and you buy this year’s Mini-LED device, you have something to look forward to.

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch with mini LED panel (Photo: Molly Flores)

The Mini-LED first debuted to the public as a monitor technology in the monitor of content creator Asus ProArt PA32UCX in 2019. Then this technology or at least this early monitor was temperamental. Absorption has since been slow. As with AirTags and UWB, Apple’s effect should help speed up the adoption of this year’s best display technology. Apple’s latest MacBook Pro is the first high-profile laptop to use this technology, and the Cupertino Iteration (Liquid Retina XDR) uses thousands of dimming zones, instead of hundreds in MSI’s previous Mini-LED laptop. (Read more about Mini-LED in our commentary on Mini-LED and MacBook Pro.)

QD-OLED screens

Samsung’s latest 4K panel combines OLED technology with Quantum Dot material for amazing colors. It was one of the hottest products presented at CES 2022 earlier this month. The new combination of technologies, which the company calls QD-OLED, is designed to improve the OLED screens of Samsung’s main competitor LG, which is already known for offering bright colors and pure black.

In our early QD-OLED demonstration, neon signs and lampposts popped up with brightness. Meanwhile, background details, such as brick walls and hair, carried more light and reflections. Although the improvements were minor, improved detail was added, creating vivid images compared to the flatter, faded visuals found on LG’s display technology.

Alienware 34 QD-OLED

Game monitor Alienware 34 QD-OLED (Photo: Molly Flores)

The recently announced QD-Display technology will work on 65- and 55-inch TVs and 34-inch PC monitors in the coming months from brands such as Samsung and Dell Alienware. TVs will operate at a frame rate of 144 Hz, and monitors – up to 175 Hz. Sony also plans to release QD-OLED models, including the Master Series XR-A95K TV. (See our first look at QD-OLED as a technology, as well as the first QD-OLED gaming monitor.)

Recommended by our editors

Wi-Fi 6E

Yes, we have announced that 2021 will be the year to get acquainted with the latest Wi-Fi 6E protocol, but adoption has been slow, so you are forgiven for the delay. We are including the lightning wireless standard in this year’s list because more routers and client devices that support it should appear on the market in the coming months.

Wi-Fi 6E adds support for 6GHz spectrum, as well as higher wireless speeds and less latency. The opening of the 6 GHz band is the biggest addition to the Wi-Fi spectrum since 1989. The jump from 5 GHz (in Wi-Fi 6) to 6 GHz may seem insignificant, but in fact it quadruples the number of radio waves (14 additional 80 MHz channels and seven additional 160 MHz channels) available for routers and smartphones. devices. This means less signal interference, even compared to Wi-Fi 6.

Illustration of Wi-Fi 6E

(Illustration: Jose Ruiz)

If you really live a life on the verge of bleeding, you’ll also want to get acquainted with Wi-Fi 7. We don’t expect to use this next-generation standard by 2024, but some network equipment vendors are already talking about its benefits. including an estimated 2.4-fold increase in speed over the Wi-Fi 6E. (Check out our in-depth explanation of what Wi-Fi 6E is?)

PCI Express 5.0

In 2021, we saw that PCI Express 4.0 was just beginning to take effect on solid state drives, and Intel’s Rocket Lake desktop platform finally brought 4.0 bandwidth to PC motherboards along with AMD’s installed 4.0-enabled platforms. However, even faster PC drives are on the horizon. Companies such as the Japanese memory manufacturer Kioxia are preparing new PCI Express Gen 5.0 SSDs that can reach a theoretical 14,000 MB / s at peak read speeds. This is a surprising increase from generation to generation, as the current PCI Express 4.0 standard is twice less, or about 7,000 MB / s, which in itself is not a trick.

Kioxia PCI Express 5.0 SSD

Prototype PCIe 5.0 SSD from Kioxia

What can you do with all this speed? As a consumer, not really, at least not yet. The first PCI Express Gen 5 drives will be mostly useful for enterprise applications and data centers. The Kioxia drive is designed for enterprise servers and should arrive in the fourth quarter. However, support for the latest PCI Express speeds is embedded in the new family of 12th generation Intel Alder Lake processors, so expect them to appear in laptops and desktops of all price ranges in the near future. (Read more about PCI Express 5.0 and the Kioxia prototype.)

DDR5 memory

DDR5 is the latest standard for memory modules on consumer PCs. Each integrated circuit in the DDR5 memory module has 64 gigabits, which is four times more than DDR4. Previous generations of DDR memory tended to double capacity compared to their predecessors. DDR5 has become the bulk of motherboards for Intel’s 12th-generation Alder Lake core, however note that some of the 12th-generation motherboards support DDR4 instead. However, the introduction of a new type of memory has led to a minimal jump in modules, and DDR5 in early 2022 is actually more expensive and complex than expected.

DDR5 memory cards

Get to know your DDR5 modules. (Photo: Thomas Soderstrom)

What can you do with this huge increase in bits, given that there are already so many of them in previous memory standards? The benefits of DDR5 in 2022 will mainly benefit gamers who upgrade their desktops to new boards and chips, as well as buyers of advanced laptops later in 2022, as laptop manufacturers incorporate DDR5 into the latest machines for advanced users using future Intel mobile phones. 12th generation processors. But you don’t need to be a hardcore player to take advantage. In fact, the biggest performance gains are likely to happen in games that play on PCs with built-in graphics instead of a discrete graphics processor. (Read more about DDR5 in our DDR5 primer and in our initial DDR5 vs. DDR4 tests.)

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