Qualcomm connects AI processor to 5G modem for the first time

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Qualcomm rolled out what it said was the first 5G modem with an artificial intelligence (AI) block inside.

The new Snapdragon X70 baseband modem can deliver download speeds of up to 10 Gb/s and upload data to base stations at a maximum rate of 3.5 Gb/s, the same as its unveiled predecessor. last year, the X65. But the X70 also incorporates a wide range of new technologies such as AI-based antenna tuning and beamforming to improve coverage and link robustness, helping it achieve higher average speeds.

The San Diego, Calif.-based company announced the new X70 at the MWC conference last month.

The X70 modem, based on 4nm process technology, supports all major bands and combinations of 5G networks, including sub-6GHz and mmWave frequencies ranging from 600MHz to 41GHz. Millimeter waves offer faster data rates than sub-6 GHz bands, but can only travel relatively short distances before being blocked or jammed by walls and other obstacles. Wireless carriers use bands below 6 GHz when a device is farther from the base station it is connecting to.

Embedded AI

The X70 leverages the AI ​​processor to optimize the antennas of the smartphone or any other device it is housed in. Its AI-based adaptive antenna tuning speeds up calculations used in 5G by up to 30%, resulting in higher average speeds and coverage. The X70 can also take context into account, dynamically selecting the best transmit and receive paths based on signal conditions near a device.

One of the main innovations of 5G is beamforming. The technology focuses radio frequency (RF) signals into beams, instead of spraying them into a wide cone like a spotlight, and it determines the best route for the signals to travel to a smartphone or other devices, shaping them around obstacles that may interfere with or block them. Beamforming helps speed connections and reduces interference from nearby devices.

The AI ​​module at the heart of the Snapdragon X70 helps calculate the best route for millimeter waves, which are more likely to be blocked by walls and other objects, even people, improving coverage.

The modem can also be paired with Qualcomm’s QET7100 Broadband Envelope Tracker, which provides up to 30% higher efficiency than competitors’ power tracking technology, extending battery life. ‘a device.

Carrier aggregation

Carrier Aggregation (CA) is another key technology supported by the X70 modem. The technology opens the door for a smartphone or other device to relay data over multiple RF bands at the same time. This increases the total amount of data the device can send and receive, resulting in faster data transfers. Qualcomm said the X70 supports CA for uploads and downloads.

In addition, the X70 modem supports both frequency division duplex (FDD) and time division duplex (TDD) bands on both standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) 5G networks. It also supports 4x downlink and 2x AC uplink to connect via sub-6GHz and mmWave and TDD and FDD bands at the same time. This results in faster data transmission rates and more robust connections to 5G networks, Qualcomm said.

The modem can aggregate up to eight millimeter wave bands for a total of 800 MHz of bandwidth, and it offers up to 300 MHz of bandwidth in the sub-6 GHz range by aggregating up to four bands at the same time. time.

The X70, which also features a standalone mmWave mode to support gateways and fixed wireless networking equipment, includes global 5G multi-SIM capability with Dual-SIM Dual-Active (DSDA) support .

Another key feature of the X70 is its “scalable architecture”, which Qualcomm says allows it to be updated as the 5G standard evolves.

The company plans to trial the X70 modem starting next quarter. The first X70-powered devices are expected to launch by the end of 2022.

5G plug-in for PC

Qualcomm is also trying to bring 5G connectivity to PCs. The company has deployed a pair of M.2 modules, co-developed with Foxconn, based on its Snapdragon X65 and X62 5G modems and RF ICs. These new modules bring Qualcomm’s 5G technology to laptops and desktops, enabling easy 5G adoption for PCs, the company said. The X65 and X62 have maximum data rates of up to 10 Gb/s, like the X70.

The modules are being sampled and will be widely available in the second half of 2022.

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