New Qualcomm Snapdragon Chips Have 5G And IoT In Their Sights

Qualcomm has unveiled a swathe of products with future 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity firmly in its sights.

Firs out of the block is the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, which the chipmaker claims in the “world’s first” chipset to support the LTE category 18 and support download speeds of up to 1.2Gbps.

Built on the 10nm FinFET manufacturing process, shared with the Snapdragon 835 system-on-a-chip (SoC), the modem provides a Gigabit LTE chipset designed to provide a 20 percent increase in download speeds over its predecessor.

Support for up to 5x20Mhz downlink Carrier Aggregation, which in English means the modem simultaneously taps into different bands of spectrum both licensed and unlicensed, is also on offer to boost the modem’s bandwidth.

It also sports 4×4 MIMO on up to three aggregated LTE carriers, which essentially makes use of four antennas and beamforming to optimise the connectivity through tapping into multiple data streams to boost download speeds.

The final standout feature is support for dual SIM voice over LTE (VoLTE), a claimed first for Snapdragon modems, which allows for support of 4G on both SIM cards rather than one.

While Qualcomm is claiming the Snapdragon X20 modem will help pave the way to 5G, in the short-term it looks likely to be put to use in the next wave of high-end smartphones that will debut in 2018, particularly those that make use features such as cloud connectivity and virtual reality support.

Snapdragon 210

To keep pushing into the IoT arena, Qualcomm also revealed the Snapdragon 210 SoC designed to act as a hardware platform for Android Things, Google’s IoT operating system designed to enable the rapid deployment of IoT devices without the need to create custom operating systems.

Featuring an ARM-based quad-core processor and Adreno 304 graphics processor, the Snapdragon 201 has been designed to deliver solid compute performance at the edge of IoT networks rather than at a central location.

Facilitating access to the IoT Is integrated 4G LTE-Advanced Cat 4 connectivity, while smart hardware that requires the use of computer vision can make use of the SoC’s support for up to 8MP cameras. Support for high efficiency video coding and Full HD 1080p multimedia playback, the SoC also has scope to be used in smartphones as well as industrial IoT networks.

The combination of Android Things compatibility and 4G connectivity, can give developers using the Snapdragon 210 the option to connect their smart systems to Google’s Cloud Platform, which now offers Nvidia graphics processing power to handle deep learning algorithms training which underpins smart software, which itself forms a core part of the evolution of the IoT.

“Developers are now able to create cost-effective, innovative connected devices and applications for both consumer and industrial IoT segments, which will help accelerate and expand the development of the overall IoT ecosystem,” said Jeffery Torrance, vice president of business development at Qualcomm.

The chipmaker also revealed another brace of SoCs; the QCA4020 and QCA4024. With Bluetooth Low Energy 5, dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity and support for and 802.15.4 based technologies, such as the ZigBee standard, the SoCs are targeted at enabling IoT connectivity and come with support for Amazon Web Services IoT software development kit and Microsoft’s Azure IoT Hub platform.

Both chipsets feature an integrated circuit with hardware-based security features in order to protect IoT device using the SoCs from being hijacked by hackers.

5G New Radio connection

To showcase its work in the developing 5G arena, Qualcomm revealed its first 5G connection based on the ‘New Radio’ work carried out by 3GPP, which Qualcomm expects to become the global 5G standard.

Using a sub-6GHz New Radio prototype system that can operate as mid-band spectrum between 3.3GHz and 5GHz, Qualcomm claims the connection technology can be used to efficiently achieve multi-gigabit-per-second data rates with lower latency than existing 4G LTE networks.

The claim is bold given the development work that still surrounds 5G, but offering such technology help open up the potential for commercialising 5G New Radio technologies at a scale once they become more prolific and the connection technology evolves beyond the prototype stage.

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Roland Moore-Colyer

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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