We’ve been tracking a baseboard by the name of ‘Mistral’ for some time now. Because of the particular chip inside this device, our interest has been piqued for months at this point, but in the face of the sheer volume of new, upcoming Chrome OS devices, it sort of got lost in the shuffle. Gabriel thought early on that this baseboard could be the Google Wifi successor, but we didn’t really dig around too much to confirm that hunch. Now we have.
Upon digging around a bit more for info on this device, I actually stumbled upon an article by Kevin Tofel that was written back in April about ‘Mistral’ and his musings on what exactly it could be. His thoughts lean towards a couple devices based on the Qualcomm 400 series chips, the QCS404 and QCS405 – with one of these devices possibly having a display. We read this commit from the Chromium Repositories a tad differently, however, and I see this language being clear that the ‘Mistral’ board won’t have a screen regarless of whether it is the QCS404 or QCS405. Check it out:
Mistral: Enable headless config Enable CONFIG_HEADLESS to avoid the crashes during recovery and developer mode boot flow. This avoids the compilation of draw*() APIs which is not needed for the Mistral board as it does not support display or video console.
Either way, the Qualcomm 400 series processors bring some very unique things to the table and I’m inclined to fully agree that this looks to be more than just a Google Wi-Fi update. The Qualcomm 400 series is actually aimed at smart speakers, as can be seen from the official product page:
The Qualcomm® QCS405 System-on-Chip (SoC) is designed to bring a wealth of new capabilities and smart functionality to smart speakers and soundbars.
QCS405 is part of our Qualcomm® QCS400 series of dedicated audio SoCs based on our high performance, low-power architecture, with on-device dual DSP, rich connectivity, visual display capabilities, and Qualcomm® Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engine. This advanced SoC is designed to significantly reduce overall BOM for complex, feature rich, voice-supported home audio products in the premium tier.
However, in the press release for this line of processors, Qualcomm did mention the ability for these chips to support and handle mesh networks similar to what we get on the current-gen Google Wi-Fi.
QCS400 SoCs designed for “smarter” Speakers, Soundbars, Home Assistants and AV Receivers, with Integrated Compute, Mesh Wi-Fi, BLE Mesh, Voice-User Interface, Audio technology, and support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Security Features
Putting it all together
So, we have a chip that can support both voice commands, AI, and mesh networks being developed under the codename ‘Mistral’. Those are clues enough to say this is some sort of follow-up to the original Google Wi-Fi, but Gabriel found the smoking gun last night with this commit and the language in it confirming ‘Mistral’ is a new generation of ‘Gale’ – AKA Google Wi-Fi:
Mistral: Add legacy mode firmware API for LP5562
Previous Google WiFi products used TI LP55231 LED controller, which driver have two firmware load APIs; standard Linux API and legacy mode, which uses sysfs interface.
Furthermore, LED PWM adjustment is changed from Logarithmic to Linear to match with previous Google WiFi products.
TEST=Run on modified Gale
Does this mean the new Google Wi-Fi won’t have some sort of smart speaker add-ons? Not at all! I still think there’s a good chance we’ll see Google Wi-Fi 2 being offered with more smarts and more advantages over the current gen device, otherwise Google wouldn’t have chosen this particular chipset to power it.
In my mind, the more exciting piece is the addition of Wi-Fi 6 to this router. I love my current Google Wi-Fi, but all the updates Wi-Fi 6 brings to the table with much higher peak bandwidth and much-improved distribution of bandwidth across multiple devices, the Google Wi-Fi 2 will take an already fantastic router and make it exceptional. Qualcomm’s QCS404 and QCS405 are both Wi-Fi 6 ready, so we can rest assured this new router will be much faster than the previous iteration.
Finally, based on this commit, ‘Mistral’ is already in the PVT phase, so production is already started and this device will be shipping in the not-too-distant future. For reference, is simply the last leg of the manufacturing process (meaning Production Validation Testing) and means ‘Mistral’ will be hitting production line very soon, just in time for Google’s hardware event some time this fall.