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Qualcomm unveils 2Gbit/s LTE modem

Qualcomm Technologies has begun sampling the Qualcomm Snapdragon X24 LTE modem, the first Category 20 LTE modem to be announced that supports download speeds of up to 2Gbit/s. It is also the first-announced chip to be built on a 7nm FinFET process.

This latest addition to Qualcomm’s modem stable is being seen as a continuation of the company’s drive to take the industry closer to 5G, while also widening the technology gap with its competitors.

The X24 is Qualcomm’s eighth generation LTE multimode modem and third generation Gigabit LTE solution. It offers a number of advanced cellular features which are intended to strengthen the LTE foundation for future 5G NR multimode devices and networks.

“The Snapdragon X24 LTE modem has been designed to provide enhanced mobile broadband and deliver an extremely important gigabit coverage layer for commercial 5G networks and mobile devices that are expected to start launching in 2019,” said Serge Willenegger, general manager, 4G/5G and Industrial IOT, Qualcomm Wireless GmbH. “The X24 packs a powerful array of the most advanced 4G LTE technologies commercially available, helping mobile operators to fully mobilise their spectrum assets and maximise the capacity of their Gigabit LTE networks, and mobile device makers to offer consumers a tangible glimpse of our 5G future”.

The Snapdragon X24 supports up to 7x carrier aggregation in the downlink, as well as 4x4 MIMO on up to five aggregated LTE carriers – both mobile industry firsts – for a total of up to 20 concurrent spatial LTE streams which will allow devices that feature the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem to use all spectrum assets available from a mobile operator.

Additional system capacity improvements have also been made possible through the support of Full Dimension Multi-Input Multi-Output (FD-MIMO). In the uplink, Snapdragon X24 supports Category 20 upload speeds, 3x20MHz CA and up to 256-QAM.

The Snapdragon X24 LTE modem pairs with an advanced RF transceiver built in 14nm FinFET process technology, and Qualcomm’s QET5100 Envelope Tracker, making it the first modem to support 60 MHz envelope tracking for up to 3x uplink carrier aggregation channels with simultaneous High Power User Equipment (HPUE) support in Band 41.

The Snapdragon X24 modem supports concurrent multi-constellation multi-frequency global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), which provides highly accurate location positioning required in different applications and services.

The much faster speeds provided by the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem means that OEMs will be able to offer users immersive 360-degree video, connected cloud computing, richer entertainment and instant apps, but it will be challenging for smartphone OEMs to design handsets that can support so many bands and antennas and, as yet, no X24 deals have been announced.

Qualcomm will be demonstrating its new modem at Mobile World Congress at the end of the month.

Sampling to customers has already begun with the first commercial devices expected by the end of 2018.

Neil Tyler

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