Published in Mobiles

Qualcomm announces 1 Gbps X16 modem

by on11 February 2016

14nm, available in 2H 2016

Qualcomm has finally launched what it thinks will be the next milestone in the LTE modem speed – a Gigabit Class LTE Chipset with download speeds of up to 1 Gbps.

It  will be dubbed the X16.  It is not the first time we have heard this name but the last time it was mentioned it was as the successor to X12 600 Mbps modem. This is the first time Qualcomm decided to officially launch it and call it a Gigabit modem.

The X12 is part of Snapdragon 820 or standalone chip and this modem can reach 600 Mbps download and 150 Mbps upload. Our educated guess tells us that the iPhone 7 will have an X12 class modem with 600 Mbps download and 150 Mbps upload. The successor of Snapdragon 820 will have the world's first 1 Gbps modem. The successor of Snapdragon 820 will launch later this year and be available around late February 2017 – inside high end phones.

Cat 16, 1 Gbps speed

The X16 modem supports the Snapdragon All Mode including Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) and LTE-U. This is Qualcomm's first 14nm modem based on the FinFet process and it will replace the 9x45 and 9x40 modems which are based on Cat 12 / Cat 13 upload speeds and 20nm manufacturing process. The iPhone 6S which is supposed to be the the latest and greatest from Apple uses the MDM9635M Cat 6 modem which is capable of 300 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload.

The new X16 modem is category 16. This specification defines download speeds of 1 Gbps and upload up to 150 Mbps. The new 14nm FinFET modem is sampling now and first commercial products are expected in 2nd half 2016. Most of the phones will get it in early 2017.

Cristiano Amon, executive vice president, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and president, QCT said

“In addition to serving as a significant milestone for the mobile industry, the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem is a powerful testament to Qualcomm Technologies’ continued technology leadership in all things wireless. Not only does the Snapdragon X16 blur the lines between wired and wireless broadband, but marks an important step toward 5G as we enable deeper unlicensed spectrum integration with LTE and more advanced MIMO techniques to support growing data consumption and deliver an even faster and smoother user experience.”

10 streams, 20 MHz, 4x4 MIMO

Qualcomm managed to reach 1 Gbps using carrier aggregation and 4x4 MIMO. The Snapdragon X16 LTE modem can receive 10 unique streams of data using only three 20 MHz carriers.

In addition to the advanced connectivity feature sets, the new modem and transceiver supports Snapdragon All Mode, including all major cellular technologies (LTE FDD, LTE TDD, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, and GSM/EDGE), frequency bands, Carrier Aggregation band combinations, LTE dual SIM, LTE Broadcast, HD and Ultra HD Voice over LTE (VoLTE) with single radio voice call continuity to 3G and 2G.

The X16 LTE modem pairs with the new WTR5975 RF transceiver which was the world’s first single-chip RF IC supporting Gigabit Class LTE, LTE-U and LAA with 5 GHz unlicensed band support. The highly integrated WTR5975 supports up to 4x downlink CA, 2x uplink CA, all 3GPP-approved bands, including 3.5GHz bands 42 and 43, and 4x4 MIMO in a single transceiver chip, dramatically reducing the footprint required to support advanced CA and MIMO configurations. The WTR5975 features a new digital interconnect interface designed to facilitate PCB layout in advanced LTE devices by simplifying routing between the modem and transceiver.

We know that most of you would be excited to see 100 Mbps realistic speeds in homes, offices and on the move, but 1000 Mbps will be exciting and a great introduction to a much faster speeds that are promised with 5G. You should expect a few Gbps in 2020 from your 5G carriers.

Last modified on 11 February 2016
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