I currently have an Netgear R7800 which is an ipq80xx device. I'm running LEDE 17.01.2 and it seems to be stable enough for me.
I was just stumped by the fact that R8000 which is a broadcom based product now has found LEDE support.
I'm curious to know what broadcom products have gained support for LEDE to a point where all interfaces work. (Wired, bgn+ac mode). I always believed brcm support was lacking only to come across some threads on the OpenWRT forum mentioning that the R8000 WIFI is working.
I use the R8000 only as a reference broadcom bcm53xx product, but if like to get opinion from LEDE users/devs as to the current state of any such broadcom devices.
Is there a particular bcm53xx device that is more stable than others? How does it stack up against the ipq80xx device support? I'm sure there are several other bcm53xx devices from Asus, Linksys and Netgear and I'm trying to pick one which is more likely going to receive better LEDE/OpenWRT support.
They're all closed drivers pretty much. I think most people will recommend Atheros ath10k over the Broadcom 802.11ac solutions, the former being more popular. Only some Broadcom AC SoCs are supported, it depends on the driver. The most complete list I could find is on the Kernel wireless wiki. The R8000 has BCM43602 wireless, e.g.
In general, things look better for ath10k routers than for Broadcom ones. My advice: never buy hardware that might be supported in the future. For all you know that support never materialises for whatever reason. Wouldn't be the first time. Just look at the WiTi board claiming OpenWrt support, they have a platform that could run vanilla LEDE, but the people behind it seem to have no interest whatsoever in having plain LEDE/OpenWrt supported on it.
IPQ8065 is already a pretty fast platform (both in terms of CPU power, available RAM and I/O) If that is no longer sufficient for your needs, I wouldn't trade it for yet another ARM based router whose performance is roughly in the same ballpark (but worse wlan support), but look towards x86 instead, which provides you far more options in that regard.
Another suggestion, towards the lower end of the spectrum, would be to relegate your router to basic router (maybe even AP-only) tasks and to outsource the more demanding tasks to different hardware (e.g. sunxi devboards, which can't compete in terms of networking capabilities, but do have more CPU and RAM to offer).
Thank you @slh and @Borromini for your advice.
I don't really have any concern with the R7800. I was just unaware that b5300 devices (R8000) actually has LEDE support. To that extent, I wanted to expand my horizon and understand current level of support for bcm53xx devices and weigh the pros and cons. I understand that the R8000 is an AC3200 product with dual 5GHz radios.
If the understanding is that ipq806x devices are "better supported" and ath10k drivers are getting more attention, then I will consider this the end of the thread. However, things are still at an early stage for the R7800 device, fastpath just coming and hwnat checkins flowing in, so its getting worked on. I'm reading that both these devices now need firmware blobs to be built with open source support slowly getting added in mainline linux kernel(s). This wasn;t the case with ath9k.
So ultimately, for me I want to be able to select a product based on maturity and stability but also something that I can trust will last me at least a year or so in terms of futureproofing. I don't think I will "create' my own router so x86 is not an option for me. My objective is to get a feature rich router (from one of the brands we all know, i.e. netgear, linksys, asus, dlink, etc) that push gigabit speeds (wired) and push the 5ghz radio effortlessly.
R8000 uses FullMAC chipsets for wireless, which are supported by the open source (and upstream) brcmfmac driver.
You can expect problems with R8000 and brcmfmac if you ever tried erasing your NVRAM. Otherwise I'd expect it to work OK.