Qualcomm is readying for the next phase of 5G with its 5G-advanced ready chipset, the Snapdragon X75. The chip is based on the 3GPP Release 17 standard but will work with 3GPP Release 18, which is considered 5G-advanced and is scheduled to be finished in mid-2023.
5G-advanced features better uplink coverage and comes with integrated access and backhaul (IAB). IAB allows an operator to dedicate a portion of its spectrum for wireless backhaul, which means it doesn’t have to deploy fiber to every base station for backhaul.
The X75 comes with a new architecture and software suite and is intended for all types of connectivity devices, including smartphones, automobiles, IoT devices, 5G private networks and fixed wireless access (FWA) receivers.
Qualcomm said that the Snapdragon X75 features a converged transceiver that works with both sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum. According to Durga Malladi, Qualcomm Technologies’ senior vice president and general manager, this converged transceiver is smaller and reduces power consumption by 20%. It also reduces the engineering bill of materials (EBOM) by 40%.
Anshel Sag, principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said that the X75’s converged transceiver will be a benefit to operators such as Verizon, which has 5G deployed on both C-band spectrum and mmWave spectrum. He also believes that this converged transceiver might make mmWave adoption more appealing to some operators. “We could also see this making mmWave easier to adoption for regions that are starting to see 5G mid-band get saturated and might need some mmWave deployments to alleviate congestion,” he said.
The X75 also features 5x downlink carrier aggregation and FDD uplink MIMO for sub-6 GHz bands. Malladi said that the 5x downlink carrier aggregation is important as operators incorporate new spectrum bands into their 5G deployments. In addition, by having the uplink use two FDD carriers, the chip is providing better uplink speeds, which are becoming more important to consumers. “We have seen up to 50% uplink throughput gains,” Malladi said.
The X75 also comes with an artificial intelligence-based mmWave beam management system for more reliable connectivity as well as AI-based location accuracy.
In conjunction with the release of the X75, Qualcomm announced its 5G Advanced-ready FWA Platform Gen 3, which is powered by the X75, and can deliver fixed wireless broadband service over mmWave and/or sub-6 GHz spectrum. The FWA Gen 3 platform supports tri-band Wi-Fi 7 and comes with dynamic antenna steering capability that makes it easier for customers to self-install.
The X75 is currently being sampled by customers, and Qualcomm anticipates initial deployments will be in the second half of 2023.