Qualcomm unveils converged LTE/Wi-Fi SoC

Qualcomm pushes LTE/Wi-Fi convergence on Snapdragon 820

15 SEP 2015

QUALCOMM 3G/LTE SUMMIT, HONG KONG: Qualcomm added its next-generation LTE modem – supporting what it says is true convergence between LTE and Wi-Fi – to its upcoming Snapdragon 820 processor.

Cristiano Amon (pictured below), EVP and co-president of Qualcomm, said it is no longer talking about LTE and Wi-Fi separately. “We look at how the two technologies work together, with the user experience at the centre.”

Amon qualcomm
The new X12 modem is a converged LTE/Wi-Fi mobile system on a chip (SoC) that supports a theoretical downlink speed of 600Mb/s (3x20MHz carrier aggregation) and an uplink rate of 150Mb/s (2x20MHz CA). It has a tri-band (2.4, 5 and 60GHz) Wi-Fi modem.

The X12, launched today in Hong Kong at Qualcomm’s 3G/LTE Summit, also supports LTE-unlicensed and LTE+Wi-Fi link aggregation (LWA).

Amon said LTE, as it moves to unlicensed bands, is changing the landscape in terms of spectrum usage. “LTE-U is the next step of our convergence and increases the capacity of networks by two times compared to Wi-Fi alone. Tests show LTE-U is a better neighbour to Wi-Fi than Wi-Fi by itself. It’s not replacing Wi-Fi, it’s about LTE plus Wi-Fi.”

In addition to increasing the upload and downlink speeds, the modem significantly improves power efficiency while boosting throughput, he said. The X12 runs on Qualcomm’s quadcore, 64-bit Kryo CPU. It has an IMS client that supports VoLTE, ViLTE (Video over LTE), RCS and Wi-Fi calling.

Qualcomm has said the Snapdragon 820 will be available in devices in the first half of next year. The X12 modem will be used in both its Snapdragon processors and MDM (mobile data modem) product line.

Evolving platform
Amon explained that LTE is not one thing, noting that it has been evolving at a faster rate than 3G. From January to June there were 88 Cat 6 commercial network launches.

“The change in user experience is significant. With Cat 6 the time it takes to download ten 21-megapixel photos drops to 16 seconds from 51 seconds with Cat 3,” he said.

The move from LTE to LTE with carrier aggregation is as significant as the move from 3G to 4G, he said. Two-carrier aggregation has 1.7 times higher throughput and three times more capacity than LTE alone.

He said that users are currently limited by bandwidth – if they have more, they will use it. So the ability to cost-effectively build additional network capacity can drive revenue growth and ARPU as well as help improve the user experience, which can reduce churn.

New products
The company also announced two new processors to its mid-range Snapdragon lineup, the Snapdragon 430 and 617. The 430 is expected to be available in Q2 2016 while the Snapdragon 617 will be in commercial devices before the end of this year.

It also claimed that its Snapdragon 410 processor, “which brought 64-bit computing power and LTE connectivity to emerging regions,” is now available in more than 550 mobile device designs within the first year of commercial launch. It’s shipped more than 200 million units globally from more than 60 OEMs. And its Snapdragon 210 processor, “the first commercial processor for mobile in its class to deliver 4G connectivity to developing regions”, has been included in more than 200 designs either shipped or in the device pipeline.

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Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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