Mobile chip maker Qualcomm has unveiled its big MWC news early, in the form of the X55 5G modem, which is five better than its predecessor.
The new modem supports both flavours of 5G as well as all the older Gs and all the spectrum bands you could possibly want. It’s manufactured on a 7nm process and promises download speeds of 7 Gbps and 3 Gbps uploads speeds. The previous X50 modem only managed a mere 4 Gbps. Even the Cat 22 LTE part manages 2.5 Gbps download.
“With significant evolution in capabilities and performance, our second generation commercial 5G modem is a true testament to the maturity and leadership of our 5G technology,” said Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon. “We expect our 5G platform to accelerate 5G commercial momentum and power virtually all 5G launches in 2019 while significantly expanding the global 5G rollout footprint.”
That ‘virtually all 5G launches’ claim could be challenged in as little as a week. We may well see some 5G handset launches at Mobile World Congress and one of the biggest smartphone vendors – Huawei – has already launched its own 5G modem. Apple doesn’t bother with MWC but has indicated it would sooner make a bonfire out of iPhones then even be in the same room as Qualcomm.
Seeking modem autonomy is perfectly understandable but Qualcomm reckons it’s pretty far ahead of the chasing pack when it comes to the tech. Huawei’s speed claims don’t seem too far off Qualcomm’s but it’s not yet known how they compare when it comes to size, power efficiency, etc. And apart from Huawei and Apple Qualcomm will probably own the rest of the 5G market.
Snapdragon X55 claims to be the first announced modem to support 100 MHz envelope tracking technology, and adaptive antenna tuning for 5G sub-6 GHz, designed for power-efficient connectivity. Qualcomm can also presumably offer it integrated into the Snapdragon 855 SoC and thus cater to all your mobile chip needs. Here’s a vid.
Mobile chip giant Qualcomm has not quite unveiled its next major mobile platform, which is designed to be paired with its X50 5G modem.
The announcement, which didn’t offer much detail, seemed designed to maintain buzz ahead of the anticipated launch of 5G devices in a few months’ time. The platform doesn’t even have a name yet, but it’s safe to assume it will be Snapdragon followed by a four digit number. We do know it will be manufactured on the 7nm process node, which will ensure it packs more of a processing punch in a smaller package than its 10nm predecessor.
“We are very pleased to be working with OEMs, operators, infrastructure vendors, and standards bodies across the world, and are on track to help launch the first 5G mobile hotspots by the end of 2018, and smartphones using our next-generation mobile platform in the first half of 2019,” said Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm president. “Qualcomm Technologies’ continued leadership in research and engineering allows for a future of increased innovation across multiple sectors as 5G connectivity becomes ubiquitous.”
The full reveal of Qualcomm’s next flagship mobile SoC will come later this year. It comes at a time when the ARM ecosystem is competing harder than ever with x86 chips in the PC and server markets. With the top three smartphone vendors all producing their own SoCs, how Qualcomm positions the Snapdragon platform to exploit non-smartphone opportunities will be key.
Embattled chip giant Qualcomm is keen to show its state of perma-litigation isn’t distracting it from the business of modem innovation.
The ‘5G firsts’ are coming thick and fast these days as we’re less than a year from the anticipated standard being announced. While it’s involved in a number of different chippy areas Qualcomm’s core competence remains modems, so it’s vital to the future health of the company that it occupies as strong a position in 5G as it did in the previous couple of cellular connectivity generations.
Qualcomm has been banging on about its X50 5G modem for a while, but this seems to be the first time it has publicly been used for a 5G transmission. The demo was done over the 28 GHz spectrum band, using several 100 MHz carriers, and claims to have topped 1 Gbps download speeds. The canned comment provided is exemplary of the kind of modest, insightful understatement we have come to expect from Qualcomm.
“Achieving the world’s first announced 5G data connection with the Snapdragon X50 5G modem chipset on 28GHz mmWave spectrum is truly a testament to Qualcomm Technologies’ leadership in 5G and extensive expertise in mobile connectivity,” said Cristiano Amon, President of QCT. “This major milestone and our 5G smartphone reference design showcase how Qualcomm Technologies is driving 5G NR in mobile devices to enhance mobile broadband experiences for consumers around the world.”
In other Qualcomm news the company has announced new additions to the RF Front-End (RFFE) portfolio that are designed to support devices operating in the 600 MHz spectrum, which will be welcome news for T-Mobile US. It has also launched the Snapdragon 636, which is a bit better than the mid/high end Snapdragon 630. Lastly if you have any doubts about what a big deal 5G will be, this Qualcomm video, complete with bizarre soundtrack, should put your mind at ease.