Qualcomm drops the ace with Snapdragon X55 and does as usual a few days before the start of the Mobile World Congress, a modem that moves the bar back to the home of San Diego and leaves little room for compromise. Yes, we have not really seen the previous Snapdragon X50 on consumer devices yet and we are already talking about its successor, but the 5G revolution is faster than we thought and 2019 will be more and more frenetic on the subject.
There are many innovations, let’s say that Qualcomm has raised the level with this second generation and created a modem that is much more complete and able to satisfy any producer and customer, all over the globe. To do this he made all the bands available and put together the two big 5G spectra: the sub-6Ghz and the millimiterWave (mmWave) frequencies. Certainly not a small thing, especially if we think that the direct competition of Huawei has focused only on the development of the first and has no specific plans for the launch of mmWave in our parts (and in China).
The use of data grows exponentially and 5G seems the only way that will meet the demands, with estimates for 2024 that speak of an increase in mobile traffic equal to 63 times that recorded in 2013 (or 136 billion of Gigabytes). Within 5 years, a quarter of all these data will travel exclusively through 5G networks, supporting the current networks that will remain operational.
First of all, let’s see how this new modem is made, made with a 7nm production process and able to offer unprecedented maximum download and upload speeds of 7Gbps and 3Gbps respectively. Well higher than the current ones and a next step towards the true 5G that will then change all the cards on the table on the connectivity front. The chip will have full support to all current and previous technologies, which means that it will be able to simultaneously manage the frequencies of 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G, thus offering the best performance depending on the coverage.
Compared to Snapdragon X50, we now also have full compatibility with FDD and TDD bands, such as Huawei’s Balong 5000, as well as the ability to exploit the chip as a standalone and non-standalone. In the early days the operators will focus on this last scenario, then exploit the other networks (3G and 4G) to hook the signal and launch the 5G, but on the SD X55 can potentially be activated directly even the 5G only.
To complete the hardware framework we have then the new QTM525 mmWave antennas, able to receive signals at frequencies of 26GHz, 28GHz and 39GHz and stay within ultrathin smartphones of 8 or less millimeters. To realize how Qualcomm realized the 5G for mobile devices, let’s take a look at this graphic that well summarizes the main components
It will be a MWC 2019 focused on the 5G and certainly we can talk about these technical details with some demo made ad hoc, also because the areas concerned are numerous and affect some of us all. Leaving aside for a moment the most obvious aspects, namely the speed of browsing and downloading from mobile, we can space more with the mind and imagine a near future with services that are impossible today.
Many will see them in the world of entertainment, with VR that will make the long-awaited jump to high resolution content (up to 8K to 60fps 10-bit) and gaming in real time. Here, the games, always in vogue on all platforms but increasingly important on mobile, the 5G will certainly give a further boost to the sector with more demanding titles and multiplayer solutions without lag and delays.
Qualcomm also imagines social networks that are even more inclusive and able to manage numerous video streams at the same time, perhaps exploiting AR or Mixed Reality. Obviously there will be shopping and even the editing world, with machines that will be able to manage the resources of extraordinary machines, hundreds of kilometers away from us, or thousands of kilometers away from us. So a low-resolution local-time timeline and all the hard work handled in real time in some server farm.
The good news is that we will not have to wait so long, the first devices with Snapdragon X55 will in fact be available by the end of 2019 and among these there will certainly be smartphones. But they will not be the only ones, the chipmaker has made it clear, because to take advantage of this trampoline will be many and first of the producers, be they mobile, the PC world or the automotive world.