Intel (News - Alert) last week announced plans to come out with a 5G Modem. The move is the chip giant’s latest effort to play a bigger role in the cellular arena, a space in which it missed an opportunity to be a leader earlier on.
“The modem’s baseband chip pairs with a new 5G transceiver that enables both sub-6 Ghz and mmWave capabilities,” Aicha Evans, corporate vice president and general manager for Intel’s Communication and Devices Group, wrote in a Jan. 4 online posting. “This powerful combination incorporates key 3GPP 5G NR (new radio) technology – including low latency frame structures, advanced channel coding and massive MIMO – to deliver faster connectivity and ultra-responsiveness. Our goal is to support both early trials and to lay a foundation enabling accelerated development of products that will support the 3GPP NR specification and help drive global adoption of the 3GPP 5G standard.”
This modem will work in different countries around the world. It will be able to support speeds exceeding 5Gbps. It will allow for ultra-low latency performance, advanced channel coding, and massive MIMO and beam forming. And while the Intel 5G Modem is a 5G-only solution, it will be able to pair with LTE (News - Alert) modems like the Intel XMM 7360 LTE model to allow for 4G/5G interworking and to provide 4G fallback.
The Motley Fool in a Jan. 6 posting compared the Intel 5G Modem to the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem. And Ashraf Eassa, a technology specialist with The Motley Fool, added that both solutions are expected to start sampling in the second half of this year and that products based on both will likely start hitting the market in the second half of next year.
Eassa also noted that all of Intel’s modems so far have been manufactured by third parties and have been based on older manufacturing methods. The Intel 5G Modem, however, will reportedly be manufactured by Intel itself and will be based on the vendor’s 14-nanometer technology.
“By manufacturing the modem in-house, Intel might be able to achieve a better cost/margin structure compared to a modem built by a third party since Intel won't have to pay a third-party chip manufacturer's profit margins,” wrote Eassa. “Additionally, if Apple adopts Intel's 5G modem in some portion of its 2018 iPhone (News - Alert) shipments (Intel currently supplies XMM 7360 modems into some models of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus), then this would mean significant chip volumes for Intel's 14-nanometer chip factories.”
Edited by Alicia Young