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Qualcomm makes major moves in 5G essential equipment

Chip giant Qualcomm introduces third-generation 5G modem-RF system to enhance 5G performance and 5G/4G mobile filter technology

In a move that it says will provide unprecedented spectrum flexibility for global operators and enhanced performance for users, Qualcomm Technologies has announced the Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System and technology designed to improve radio frequency (RF) performance.

In its principal announcement, Qualcomm said that the Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System is a world first, with a 5nm 5G baseband and first to aggregate 5G mmWave and Sub-6 bands.

Snapdragon X60 is the company’s third-generation 5G modem-to-antenna product. It features what is claimed to be the world’s first 5-nanometer 5G baseband and the first 5G Modem-RF System to support spectrum aggregation across all key 5G bands and combinations. This includes mmWave and sub-6 using frequency division duplex (FDD) and time division duplex (TDD), providing what Qualcomm said is “ultimate” operator flexibility to uplift 5G performance using fragmented spectrum assets.

The 5G modem-to-antenna solution is designed to enhance the performance and capacity for operators worldwide while increasing average 5G speeds in mobile devices. It is engineered to accelerate network transition to 5G standalone mode through support for any key spectrum band, mode or combination, along with 5G Voice-over-NR (VoNR) capabilities.

In terms of throughput, Snapdragon X60 is said to allow for fibre-like internet speeds and low latency, delivered wirelessly over 5G. This capability, insists Qualcomm, will help unlock the next generation of connected applications and experiences, from highly responsive multiplayer gaming and immersive 360-degree video to connected cloud computing – all with the superior power efficiency for all-day battery life.

The Snapdragon X60 also features the new Qualcomm QTM535 mmWave antenna module, engineered for superior mmWave performance. Its compact design is said to be appropriate for modern thinner, sleeker smartphones.

“Qualcomm Technologies is at the heart of 5G launches globally, with mobile operators and OEMs introducing 5G services and mobile devices at record pace,” said Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon.

“As 5G standalone networks are introduced in 2020, our third-generation 5G modem-RF platform brings extensive spectrum aggregation capabilities and options to fuel the rapid expansion of 5G roll outs while enhancing coverage, power efficiency and performance for mobile devices. We are excited about the fast adoption of 5G across geographies and the positive impact 5G is having on the user experience.”

Qualcomm is scheduled to ship samples of Snapdragon X60 and QTM535 in the first quarter of 2020, with commercial premium smartphones using the new Modem-RF System expected in early 2021.

In terms of the new filter technology, the Qualcomm ultraSAW filters are said to offer a higher performance solution compared with competing bulk-acoustic (BAW) filters in the sub-2.7 GHz frequency range. Qualcomm says that by achieving as much as 1 decibel (dB) improvement in insertion loss its technology achieves superior filter characteristics to deliver high performance in frequencies from 600 MHz to 2.7 GHz.

The upshot would be more power-efficient RF paths in 5G and 4G multimode mobile devices – and at a lower cost point than competing commercial solutions with similar performance metrics for manufacturers, said Qualcomm. It added that the improved RF performance helps manufacturers bring 5G devices with superior connectivity and battery life to consumers.

Qualcomm ultraSAW serves as a key technology for products including the Snapdragon 5G Modem-RF Systems. Qualcomm will be integrating its ultraSAW technology across its product lines. Discrete and integrated Qualcomm ultraSAW products will begin production this quarter and manufacturer flagship devices using the technology are expected to be commercially available in the second half of 2020.

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