Qualcomm unveiled reference designs for 5G-enabled M.2 cards to help OEMs fast-track development of multi-gigabit-capable next generation devices and took the wraps off a new Snapdragon 778G chipset.
The M.2 interface is a common form factor for solid state drives (SSD) and connector cards used in computing devices. In a briefing with journalists, Qualcomm Director of Product Marketing Nitin Dhiman explained the idea behind using this format for its reference designs was to create a “plug and play” solution for OEMs that “takes the hard work of developing a 5G device off their hands.”
“OEMs can build a card based on this reference design – we’ve done all the hard work upfront – they build a card and those cards can plug into all kinds of devices, whether its laptops or PCs or headmounted displays, routers, fixed wireless access devices, industrial IoT devices at some point and so on,” he said. “So essentially we’re accelerating the adoption of 5G in all these other verticals.”
Dhiman noted a version of its reference design based on its recently unveiled X65 modem “will be the first 10 gigabit 5G M.2 card.” Qualcomm will also offer a version of the design based on its X62 modem, which is capable of speeds up to 4.4 Gbps, “so there’s different price points we can address.”
Durga Malladi, Qualcomm SVP and GM of 4G and 5G, said in a statement the template would allow the mobile ecosystem to “bring next-generation Release 16 5G products as early as late 2021."
Alongside the reference designs, Qualcomm unveiled upgrades to its X65 modem, adding support for mmWave spectrum in standalone 5G mode and wider 200 MHz channels in mmWave bands. It also improved the chipset’s power efficiency performance using UE-Assisted Information (UAI) techniques outlined by 3GPP in Release 16.
Qualcomm also officially took the wraps off its new Snapdragon 778G 5G platform, though some details about the chipset appeared to have leaked a few days before launch. The new gaming-oriented offering succeeds the Snapdragon 768G platform released in March 2020, and sits just below a higher-tier Snapdragon 780G chipset unveiled in March 2021.
Kedar Kondap, Qualcomm VP of product management, said in a statement the 778G was “developed to address the growing demand by global OEMs for more platform options in the high tier.”
Highlights of Snapdragon 778G include a Kryo 670 CPU and Adreno 642L GPU, which each deliver a 40% performance boost compared to the 768G; an integrated X53 5G modem-RF system with mmWave and sub-6 GHz compatibility; and Wi-Fi 6 capabilities with support for speeds up to 2.9 Gbps via Qualcomm’s FastConnect 6700 system. It also comes with Qualcomm’s sixth generation AI engine and Hexagon 770 processor, which are capable of handling 12 trillion operations per second (TOPS); a triple image signal processor (ISP) for simultaneous photo and video capture; and a range of Snapdragon Elite Gaming features.
The platform is set to power upcoming devices from Honor, iQOO, Motorola, Oppo, Realme and Xiaomi. The first devices using the chipset are expected to be commercially available from Q2 2021, Qualcomm said.