Qualcomm announces third-generation 5G modem “ Snapdragon X60, '' overcoming challenges with 5nm manufacturing

US Qualcomm announced on February 18 (local time) the new product "Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System" for 5G-compatible mobile terminals. First 5G baseband with 5nm process. It is designed to flexibly accommodate 5G migration scenarios that vary from country to country. Samples began shipping in the first quarter of this year, with commercial products incorporating the modem expected to be available in early 2021.

The X60 is the third generation of 5G-compatible modems following the X50 and X55. Supports 5G modes such as FDD, TDD, SA (stand-alone) and NSA (non-stand-alone). It supports millimeter wave, sub-6, millimeter wave-sub6 carrier aggregation, sub6 carrier aggregation (FDD-TDD, FDD-FDD, TDD-TDD), and DSS (dynamic spectrum sharing). The maximum communication speed is 7.5Gbps for downstream and 3Gbps for upstream. It also has a 5G dual SIM function.

Qualcomm states that it "provides the flexibility to maximize the bandwidth resources available to operators." For example, a DSS that dynamically shares frequencies allows 5G services to be deployed in the FDD band already used for LTE. 5G FDD-TDD carrier aggregation provides increased capacity and range, and millimeter-wave sub-6 carrier aggregation can increase throughput up to 5.5 Gbps.

Compared to X50 / X55 manufactured in 7nm process, X60 in 5nm process has better power consumption efficiency and smaller chip footprint. The QTM535 millimeter-wave antenna module that can be combined with the X60 is also more compact than the current generation QTM525. 5G antennas are complex and compact mobile devices such as smartphones are subject to design constraints. For example, in February, Apple started designing its own antenna for the next iPhone Fast CompanyReported. Apple says it will use a Qualcomm modem for its upcoming iPhone, but the design of the upcoming iPhone did not allow for the size of the QTM 525 antenna. The compact size is a major enhancement of the X60 and QTM535, and Qualcomm claims that "it will enable millimeter-wave smartphones with smarter designs than ever before, while improving millimeter-wave performance."

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