Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X24 LTE Modem is the first to achieve 2Gbps for the 5G Era
Think 4G LTE is fast? Wait until you try next-gen cellular. On Wednesday, Qualcomm took the wraps off the X24, a new LTE modem that supports download speeds of up to 2Gbps.
The X24, which is the world’s first modem built on a 7nm FinFET manufacturing process, supports Category 20 LTE with 7X carrier aggregation and 4×4 MIMO on a maximum of five aggregated LTE carriers. It’s capable of handling 20 concurrent spatial LTE streams at once, and compatible with Full Dimension Multi-Input Multi-Output (FD-MIMO) along with 3×20 MHz carrier aggregation and 256-QAM.
Qualcomm says the X24 will also take advantage of License Assisted Access (LAA), a technology that uses Wi-Fi frequencies to transmit LTE data. In the US, both T-Mobile and AT&T plan to implement LAA in the coming months.
That’s a lot of jargon, but here’s the key takeaway: the X24 can sustain high peak download speeds even on congested networks. That 2Gbps is a theoretical maximum — Qualcomm expects real-world speeds between 200 and 600Mbps — but those estimates are still double today’s average LTE speeds of 100 to 300Mbps, and fast enough to download a 2GB movie in just about a minute and a half.
The modem’s 14nm RF transceiver and QET5100 Envelope Tracker make the X24 the first to support 60 MHz envelope tracking, a technique that continuously adjusts the amplifier’s power supply to keep it operating at peak efficiency. Also in tow is High Power User Equipment (HPUE) support in Band 41, which is designed for power-efficient data transfers, and interoperability with GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, and other regional global navigation satellite systems.
In Qualcomm’s modem product portfolio, the X24 sits somewhere between the X50, which is theoretically capable of 5Gbps downlink, and the current-gen X16 in phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S8, Essential Phone, and Sony Xperia XZ Premium, which maxes out at 1-1.2Gbps.
“As the world’s first announced Gigabit LTE modem to achieve speeds of up to 2 Gbps, the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem sets a major mobile industry milestone, designed to provide enhanced mobile broadband and deliver an extremely important gigabit coverage layer for commercial 5G networks and mobile devices that are expected to start launching in 2019,” said Serge Willenegger, senior vice president and general manager of Qualcomm’s wireless division. “Further expanding on the use of 4×4 and LAA capability, the Snapdragon X24 packs a powerful array of the most advanced 4G LTE technologies commercially available, helping mobile operators to fully mobilize their spectrum assets and maximize the capacity of their Gigabit LTE networks, and mobile device makers to offer consumers a tangible glimpse of our 5G future”.
Qualcomm Technologies, Qualcomm’s fabrication subsidiary, has begun sampling the X24 ahead of mass production in the coming months — it expects the standalone configuration to become available by the end of the year, and the X24 modem to make its way to consumer devices in 2019. It’ll demonstrate the chip at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona, Spain with Ericsson, Telstra, and NETGEAR.