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Qualcomm Pushes 5G to 10Gbps

March 2, 2021

Author: Linley Gwennap

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X65 modem offers a small upgrade for 5G users but reaches a big number for headline writers. It achieves a peak speed of 10Gbps, a 33% improvement over the previous Snapdragon X60. It also upgrades to the latest 3GPP release and moves to 4nm technology for power savings. Although the X65 will sell as a standalone device late this year, it provides a preview of the capabilities likely to appear in Qualcomm’s next-generation flagship-smartphone processor. To support the modem, the company announced new 5G RF components.

The X65 carries forward the capabilities of its predecessor, including dual-channel sub-6GHz with a peak download rate of 5.0Gbps. For millimeter-wave (mmWave) operators that can support it, the new design extends the maximum bandwidth from 800MHz to 1,000MHz, thereby pushing the peak download rate to 7.5Gbps for mmWave alone. The peak uplink rate remains 3.0Gbps.

The X65 implements the recently completed 3GPP Release 16, which lets operators deploy 5G on unlicensed spectrum (NR-U). Operators are eying unlicensed spectrum in the mmWave range, particularly the 57–66GHz band that most countries support, as well as the lower 3.5GHz CBRS band in the US. Over time, these bands could enable more operators to offer high-speed 5G access. Operators will likely deploy “anchored NR-U,” which maintains a primary connection on a licensed band while using NR-U to enhance bandwidth.

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