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Qualcomm to roll out on-chip 5G in 2020

Jonathan Bray
25 Feb 2019
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Qualcomm confirms first mobile chip with integrated 5G for first half of 2020

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 and X50 modem are only just making their way into commercially available smartphones, but the chip maker is already casting its gaze towards the next generation of smartphone processors.

READ NEXT: The Nokia 9 PureView has five cameras but no 5G

Following the announcement of its second-generation 5G mobile modem – the X55 – Qualcomm has confirmed next year’s flagship processor will have 5G fully integrated on the die.

This means 5G capability will be built into future Qualcomm chipsets, translating to significant gains in battery efficiency compared to the first batch of 5G smartphones, which separate their processors from 5G modem chips.   

“The integration of our breakthrough 5G multimode modem and application processing technologies into a single SoC is a major step in making 5G more widely available across regions and tiers,” said Qualcomm president, Cristiano Amon.

We’ve already seen a wave of 5G phone announcements at this year’s mobile technology show and in the weeks preceding it. Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G was the first to break cover last week. 

Yesterday we saw Xiaomi announce the amazingly good value Mi Mix 3 5G  at €599 and LG unveil the 5G-capable V50 ThinQ, powered by the same combination of Snapdragon 855 and X50 5G modem. But the separation of processor and 5G modem gives manufacturers the option of not including 5G.

What this latest announcement effectively means is that every high-end smartphone in 2020 will be 5G enabled since the capability will be already built into the next flagship Qualcomm chipset, presumably this will be called the Snapdragon 865.

Qualcomm’s 5G onslaught didn’t stop at this surprise announcement, however, with the firm announcing a number of other new developments.

Among the most interesting of these surrounds the development of a new reference design for a 5G hub (or CPE: customer premise equipment) device, which will allow manufacturers to deliver 5G-based home broadband equipment.

With the sort of speeds promised by 5G (up to 7Gbits/sec in some cases) home broadband-based 5G could outstrip traditional copper-based connections many times over in terms of download speeds.

Qualcomm also confirmed that Lenovo would be among the first companies to produce a Snapdragon 8cx 5G-based laptop. The 8cx is the laptop-class version of the Snapdragon 855 chipset that is set to appear in most of 2019’s flagship smartphones, and the successor to last year’s Snapdragon 850 chip.

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