Qualcomm has announced its third-generation Snapdragon X60 5G modem and confirmed that it will be manufactured on the 5nm process. The new modem will deliver a significant bump in peak bandwidth resulting from support for carrier aggregation in Sub-6 GHz bands (FDD and TDD) and simultaneous career aggregation in Sub-6 GHz and mmWave bands.
In simpler words, the Snapdragon X60 will give operators more flexibility by allowing them to combine different frequency bands and band types to fully utilize available 5G bandwidth. Qualcomm believes that this career aggregation support will help speed up the transition to Standalone (SA) 5G.
The integrated modem-RF approach has been accepted as the best way forward for 5G (especially mmWave), and thus it is no surprise that the X60 comes along with a new QTM535 mmWave antenna module to support these improvements in bandwidth. Qualcomm also provides full RF-front end solution for Sub-6GHz.
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Qualcomm Snapdragon X60 vs Snapdragon X55: Faster speeds
Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 (used in Snapdragon 865 phones) was a major update over Qualcomm X50 as it added crucial support for FDD in sub- 6GHz bands, support for the 26 GHz mmWave band, and was the first Qualcomm multimode modem to support 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G. These additions made X55 suitable for global adoption.
The X60 is the expected next step that integrates a few more 5G features that allow it to deliver notably higher 5G bandwidth. Qualcomm claims 7.5 Gbps download for mmWave and up to 5 Gbps download over Sub-6 GHz.
In comparison, X55 is based on 7nm process and advertises up to 6Gbps download speeds over mmWave.
The QTM535 mmWave antenna module supports all major mmWave bands under deployment – 26 GHz, 28 GHz, and 39 GHz. It is slimmer than the last generation QTM525 (which can restrict phone thickness to sub-8mm) and manufacturers will still have to add at least 3 of these for proper coverage.
When will we see 5G Phones with Snapdragon X60 5G modem?
Time to market for Qualcomm’s 5G modem ranges from several months to a couple of years, and TSMC and Samsung are yet to start mass production on the 5nm process. Anyways, Qualcomm assures that 5G Phones with Snapdragon X60 modem could be available by early 2021.
As for smartphones, Snapdragon X55 is currently in full swing and will be the 5G modem we see on most flagships this year (Qualcomm sells SD 865 and X55 in a bundle).