Qualcomm announces X16 and X50 modems for next generation Snapdragon 8xx devices and 5G Connectivity

Qualcomm announces X16 and X50 modems for next generation Snapdragon 8xx devices and 5G Connectivity

At the Qualcomm 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong, Qualcomm revealed some new processors, and their roadmap for their upcoming flagship modems, the X16 and X50, and the roadmap towards 5G connectivity.

X16 LTE Modem

The Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 Modem is Qualcomm’s flagship modem for 2017. The X16 LTE Modem is the first modem capable of Gigabit download speeds, bringing Category 16 downlink, with 4×20 carrier aggregation, 256-QAM, 4×4 MIMO on two aggregated carriers, and up to 10 LTE data streams at 100 Mbps each. It will also be capable of Category 13 uplink allowing for peak upload speeds of 150 Mbps thanks to 2×20 carrier aggregation, 64-QAM, and up to 2 LTE data streams at 75 Mbps each. Additionally, the X16 Modem will support LTE Dual SIM Dual Active.

The first implementation of the X16 Modem will be in the NETGEAR Mobile Router MR1100, which was produced in partnership with Telstra, NETGEAR, and Ericsson, and will be available in the next few months. Qualcomm has announced that after that, the X16 Modem will appear in the next generation Snapdragon 8xx series chip, potentially named the Snapdragon 830.

X50 5G Modem

The Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 Modem is the first 5G modem announced, capable of 5 Gbps download on the 28 GHz mmWave spectrum, which is also referred to as “Extremely High Frequency” or “millimeter Wave”, thanks to it using a frequency with wavelengths measured in millimeters. Due to the restrictions of 28 GHz signals, it will be heavily influenced by line of sight (although Qualcomm is working on solutions to those issues, using technology like adaptive beamforming and beam tracking), and will be used to complement the existing LTE network.  Qualcomm notes that mmWave is not synonymous with 5G, and rather is one potential technology that could fall under the 5G umbrella once standardization is finalized. Sampling will begin in the second half of 2017, with the first devices expected in the first half of 2018.

Qualcomm hopes that the speed increase brought about by 5G networks will allow for substantial changes in the ways we use the internet, making things like instant apps, high resolution streaming, offsite storage that feels as fast as local, and even VR streaming all potentially possible.

Are you excited for 5G networks? What do you hope to do with the increased speed? What new uses of the technology do you think we will see as internet speeds become faster?

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Steven Zimmerman
Steven Zimmerman

Steven grew up wishing he could take the internet everywhere with him. His first smartphone was an HTC Legend, and he's been tinkering and playing with Android ever since. With a background in accounting, he strives to bring a unique perspective to the tech journalism world.