The big game of 5G – poker, cards in hand, and it's time to show up. Now we will find out which of the manufacturers will dictate their unyielding will in 2019.
Richard Yu (3G Product Director, Vice President of the Wireless Technical Sales Dept, President of the Wireless Product Line, President of the European Area, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, Chairman of Huawei Device, and CEO of the Consumer BG) in person
Qualcomm is a good mine for a bad game
Qualcomm continues to test and improve its X50 modem, which has resulted in surprising benchmark data rates of up to 4.51 Gbps. In addition, the size of the modem allows it to be installed in mobile devices:
However, Qualcomm's development is not going as fast as we would like. The birth of the final consumer equipment (smartphone) is only under discussion with leading manufacturers. In other words, no one has even started drawing a schematic diagram of such a smartphone yet.
At MWC 2018, Qualcomm unveiled the X24 LTE modem, which it showcases as a transitional one. According to Qualcomm, the transition from 4 to 5G should be smooth and without sudden jerks. The device is fully compatible with existing 4G networks and shows CAT 20 LTE speeds at the stand, i.e. download 2 Gbps, upload 315 Mbps. The advantage of the modem is its production using 7nm FinFET technology, which makes it extremely modest in terms of power consumption. Alas, real speeds will be much lower. The modem is already in the Qualcomm price list, but it is still unclear which chipsets it will be installed in. It could be the Snapdragon 700, rumored to be a budget alternative to premium AI-enabled chipsets.
The X24 LTE modem speeds are excellent under ideal conditions. Let's see what happens on the street.
Still, I would like to point out that Qualcomm's claims of a 'transient modem', personally, cause me to mistrust the company's ability to quickly solve technical problems.
Also, taking this opportunity, I inform you about changes in the marking of Qualcomm chipsets: with the release of the Snapdragon 845, 660, 630 and 450 chipsets, the concept of MSM, which meant Mobile Station Modem, has become a thing of the past. Starting with these chipsets onwards, Qualcomm's designations will include the SDM designation, for example, SDM845.
But don't be too quick to judge Qualcomm. Remember, in 2015, the company was fined almost a billion US dollars, and in 2018 – a billion euros. How many companies have pulled out after such a blow? We wish Qualcomm good luck and new victories.
Intel sits with one pair
At MWC 2018, General Manager 5G Intel Rob Topol demonstrated a working laptop concept with built-in modem 5G:
However, Intel states that for maximum effect it is necessary that the modem be part of the SOC and not be a separate device. The current stage 5G from Intel can be judged by the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, where the company organized a local network for broadcasts. Sustainable speeds were shown in the region of 1 Gbps, which is more likely to correspond to 4G and does not boggle the imagination. To reach high speeds and create a full-fledged SOC with an integrated 5G – modem, capital investments are required in development at the silicon stage. Apparently, this was the reason for the announcement of the union, which, in addition to Intel, will include Microsoft, Dell, HP and Lenovo.
Something like this, according to Intel, the user of their 5G – services will look like
It seems that Intel has finally woken up conscience and such an ugly phenomenon as an external 3 / 4G modem for a computer / tablet will become a thing of the past. Alas, but in this race Intel is not a leader, although Rob Topol said that at MWC only Intel showed a real working 5G modem.
MediaTek and Samsung – nothing to brag about
At MWC 2018, the company MediaTek presented its developments, but it was much more represented in third-party smartphones than at its own stand. Among the list of promising developments 5G – there is not a single item of equipment ready for production. Those interested can familiarize themselves with the current state of affairs on the manufacturer's website, which says about entering the market 5G in 2019.
Samsung has a similar situation, at the moment there is not even a hint of the production of the Exynos chipset, which would include 5G – a modem.
Huawei breaks the bank
Since last fall, Berezki has been tracking a big game of producers in 'who will launch first 5G'. The main prize is clear – the first one to launch 5G E2E (the networks themselves + consumer equipment) will skim the first, the fattest cream. After Qualcomm announced the creation of the first 5G – X50 module, the winner seemed to be determined and 5G for everyone in 2019 becomes an objective reality, the players begin to reveal themselves, but … But then from the corner of the table is heard polite cough from line president 5G Huawei Yang Chaobin:
And on the green cloth falls 5G Royal Street Flush (core network, bearer network, base station, terminals). This is an unconditional victory, no one else has ready-made equipment, our congratulations Huawei. Let's look at some of the known details in a little more detail. 5G from Huawei fully complies with 3GPP standards (3GPP is a standardizer, the same as JEDEC, please do not write more in the comments that this is a communication standard). The full package of the 3GPP standard 5G includes not only signal characteristics, but also hardware support for cloud services network equipment, backward compatibility of network equipment with 4G, etc. This means that everyone else in the game will have to rethink their future designs to match the leader and the standard he has adopted. CEO Huawei Richard Yu spoke about consumer 5G equipment at MWC 2018:
At first, such equipment will use the latest modem Huawei Balong 5G 01. The size of the chip does not yet allow it to be installed in smartphones, they are approximately equal to the size of a computer's central processor. But for the production 5G – access points, PCI-cards and similar peripherals there are no restrictions. In field trials, the connection speed 5G from Huawei was a solid 2.3 Gbps, which is significantly better than the best 4G performance achieved in greenhouse conditions.
As can be seen from the dynamics of development 5G – communications, it is possible to achieve outstanding results even without consortia on a planetary scale. Still, cadres decide everything, which they demonstrated in the company Huawei. The market 5G is valued at trillions of dollars. It will generate not only profits, but also new types of business, make cities even smarter, and finally allow the implementation of autonomous transport. And a significant part of this cake is already halfway to the mouth Huawei. Well done!
Results of the first round 5G – poker
The undisputed leader was suddenly the company Huawei. According to unverified rumors (casually thrown words of the CEO), by the end of 2018 the company may present a full-fledged 5G smartphone to the world. Huawei does not depend on external manufacturers, and the emergence of the Kirin chipset with 5G is only a matter of time. Not even technical.
The second place is taken by Intel, which showed the local 5G – network at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, the maximum speeds of which could be used only by the equipment itself Intel.
Qualcomm, MediaTek and other developers of their own chipsets talk a lot about 5G, but they cannot show E2E (End-To-End) devices and equipment.
Are you ready to spend money on your first 5G smartphone? Provided that 5G – the smartphone will provide the maximum data transfer rate that the LTE network can only provide (until 5G – towers are built)? And will it provide consistent reception where an LTE smartphone has sometimes floated?