Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon modem integrates tech from 2G to 5G

The Snapdragon X55 is a 7-nanometer single-chip 5G modem that integrates all the technology from 2G to 5G. (Qualcomm)

Qualcomm on Tuesday announced the second iteration of its Snapdragon modemthe Snapdragon X55 5G modem, which supports speeds of 7 Gbps on the downlink and 3 Gbps upload speeds. The modem is currently sampling to customers and is expected to be in commercial devices by late 2019.

The Snapdragon X55 is a 7-nanometer single-chip 5G modem that integrates all the technology from 2G to 5G, said Ignacio Contreras, director of 5G marketing with Qualcomm, on a conference call with media. The modem works in all spectrum bands from Sub-6 GHz to millimeter wave (mmWave), and it works with TDD and FDD transmission methods. In addition, the modem works with 5G non-standalone (NSA) as well as 5G standalone (SA) standards.

“This X55 5G modem delivers on the promise from Qualcomm that we will take mobile to many other areas, fueling not just smartphones,” said Contreras. The company anticipates the modem will also be used in tablets, hotspots, fixed wireless installations, and automobiles, to name a few examples.

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Qualcomm introduced its initial X50 Snapdragon modem in 2016. The company says it has garnered more than 30 design wins with that modem.

But Contreras said the transition to 5G is a big leap. “We expect 5G rollouts to be much faster than we saw with 4G,” he said. “And we are going with a far more complex technology with regards to Sub-6 spectrum and mmWave and more interworking with 4G in many cases.”

There’s also more complexity dealing with an ever-increasing number of band combinations. The Snapdragon X55 will allow operators to simultaneously support LTE and 5G users and devices on the same spectrum via dynamic spectrum sharing.

RELATED: Qualcomm unveils latest additions to 5G NR mmWave antenna modules—and they’re even smaller

Qualcomm also introduced the QTM525 mmWave antenna module for thin-form, global smartphones with support for 26 GHz for North America, Europe and Australia in addition to 28 GHz and 39 GHz already supported by the antenna module’s predecessors.

5G Testbeds

Qualcomm is expanding its 5G test networks to include new end-to-end over-the-air (OTA) configurations for both mmWave and Sub-6 GHz bands. Located at Qualcomm R&D locations in San Diego, California, and Bridgewater, New Jersey, the new 5G test networks will enable Qualcomm to validate 3GPP Release 16+ designs ahead of standardization.

The networks are built based on the 3GPP 5G NR Release 15 standards and enable concepts that are expected to be supported from Release 16 and beyond.

Danny Tseng, staff manager of technical marketing for Qualcomm, said Release 16 is currently being worked on in 3GPP with a completion target of March 2020. “This is the release that will focus on expanding 5G NR to new industries and use cases,” said Tseng.

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