Qualcomm has unveiled reference designs targeting 5G-enabled M.2 cards that it hopes will be embedded in a range of laptops, PCs, tablets and routers as well as gaming and other mobile broadband devices.
Qualcomm’s designs will be powered by the Snapdragon X65 and lower-specification X62 5G modem-RF systems, which are based on the most recent Release 16 3GPP standard. That combination means the reference design will support spectrum aggregation and extended-range mmWave.
Qualcomm claims to be the first with a 10Gbit/s 5G reference design, but provided no data on potential real-world speeds.
The M.2 interface is a common form factor for solid-state drives as well as connector cards used in most computing devices. Qualcomm suggested the format could be used to create a “plug-and-play” framework for OEMs. That would make it easier to design and integrate into a range of devices.
Qualcomm and others have tried similar approaches for 4G, with little impact on the wireless market. Among the reasons were OEMs found the design difficult to embed; doing so added significant cost to the resulting device.
The company said it has addressed those concerns in its latest reference design. Durga Malladi, general manager of Qualcomm’s 4G/5G technology group, cited “dramatic” growth in data consumption, enabling the 5G M.2 reference framework to “tackle many 5G design complexities upfront so that OEMs don’t have to.”
Hence, the latest reference designs would allow OEMs to reduce time to launch for 5G products.
Malladi predicted products based on 3GPP Release 16 could hit the market by late 2021. Meanwhile, Qualcomm is “committed to leading the acceleration and expansion of 5G beyond smartphones,” Malladi said.
Both versions of the reference design are available now.
Separately, Qualcomm announced the availability of its latest Snapdragon mobile platform SoC, the 778G 5G , which targets premium, mid-range smartphones while offering what it claims is “leading edge” mobile gaming , accelerated AI functionality, graphics and computational photography. The platform is the successor to the 768G launched last March.
Qualcomm said several phone makers have already adopted the chip set, including Motorola, Xiaomi, OPPO, Realme and Honor.
The chipset incorporates Kyro 670, an octal-core CPU, and an Adreno 642L graphics engine. Each is said to offer a 40- percent performance boost over previous versions.
Meanwhile, the X53 5G modem provides both sub-6 5G and mmWave multi-gigabit connectivity along with Qualcomm’s FastConnect 6700 system supporting Wi-Fi6/6E at speeds of up to 2.9 GBit/s, as well as the latest Bluetooth 5.2 spec.
Snapdragon 778G also incorporates the company’s sixth-generation AI engine and Hexagon 770 processor, which are said to be capable of handling 12 trillion operations per second. That capability along with triple image signal processor provides simultaneous photo and video capture.
The device is based on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.’s 6nm process, offering what Qualcomm described as “incredible performance and power efficiency.”
The company said devices based on the Snapdragon 778G will be commercially available during the second quarter of 2021.