The news came before this big shocking announcement that the US government ordered Broadcom to back off Qualcomm. Now Qualcomm can get back to what it knows best, make great SoCs that will power the best phones powered by Snapdragon.
The fact that Snapdragon 855 will have a 5G NR companion chip hardly comes as a surprise, but this is the first confirmation. The reason behind this is rather simple. Qualcomm executives were very vocal about the fact that the first generation of 5G NR will use the mixed 5G and 4G networks. This is what most carriers/telecoms will launch in the first wave in 2019 and later.
Therefore, the Snapdragon 855 will have to rely on Snapdragon 4G Gigabit modem, most likely the X20 with 2 Gbps speed, while Snapdragon X50 NR will take care of 5G speeds and connection. Bear in mind that depending on the territory, 5G can be as fast as 4.5 – 5Gbps already at launch. This would require a company to use millimeter waves and most US carriers plan to do so. To our knowledge, the first wave of 5G in Europe will focus on sub 6 GHz frequencies which means better coverage and easier obstacle penetration (indoors signal) but a slower speed.
Softbank revealed only that Snapdragon 855 will use the Snapdragon X50 modem and use the SDM855 +SDX50 codenames. It also calls this platform a fusion. This is a two-chip approach and in future generations, you can count on the fact that the 5G modem will get integrated in future iterations of the Snapdragon 800 series. Fudzilla can add that Snapdragon 855 is a 7nm processor that will be announced in late 2018 and ship to customers soon after that. Customers who are planning leading 5G NR phones for 2019 are expected to launch their phones by early Q2 2018.
This is an important step as Softbank points out that the 3GPP release 15, the final 5G NR standard will be ready for 2019 and so will Qualcomm and a few others. When it comes to the infrastructure part of the game, Softbank mentions that Samsung, Nokia and Ericsson will be ready to deploy massive MIMO sites in 2018. The plan is to address major markets in 2019.
Softbank also points out that Sprint, the company it owns, has the most spectrum compared to the competition and that it will be ready for massive MIMO at 100MHz channels and wide area coverage in mid bands (sub-6 GHz).
Softbank owns ARM and points out that in financial 2017, ARM grew seven percent from $1.28 billion in 2016 to $1.37 billion in FY2017. It pointed out that ARM is inside some cool designs such as Galaxy S9, HPC servers by Hewlett Packard Enterprise deployed by US department of energy, as well as theNvidia based Nintendo Switch. Sprint has a small cell equipped drone, Samsung has ARM based wireless earbuds, Lenovo smart displays, and Nest, Hive camera and Bitmain mining operation are all based on ARM.
Alibaba made a lot of money for Softbank and so did many other apps include Uber and Yahoo Japan. Softbank definitely knows what it is doing.