Qualcomm’s new X24 LTE modem features 2Gbps peak download speeds

Plus, it's the first announced chip built on a 7nm FinFET process

Qualcomm has announced what is likely its last LTE modem, the X24, capable of 2Gbps peak download speeds.

The chipset giant has already started sampling the modem, with devices expected to hit the market by the end of 2018.

Not only is it the world’s first Cat 20 LTE modem to offer 2Gbps speeds, it’s also the world’s first announced chip built on a 7-nanometer FinFET process. The previous smallest node was 10nm.

Qualcomm says its fibre-like data speeds enhance burgeoning data-heavy cellular activities like immersive 360-degree video, connected cloud computing and instant apps.

This modem will physically join X50 5G modems in the first generation of 5G-enabled smartphones, Qualcomm representatives confirmed at the event. This allows for a relatively seamless switch between Gigabit LTE and the X50’s higher multi-gigabit 5G speeds.

During presentations at 5G Day, Qualcomm noted the X50 is currently clocking in at up to 4.51Gbps.

X50 modems are expected to hit commercial devices in the first half of 2019.

Above: Real world speeds provided by the Snapdragon X50 5G modem.

The modem is Qualcomm’s eighth generation LTE multi-mode modem — multi-mode meaning it is capable of supporting multiple wireless generations.

It supports up to 7x carrier aggregation in the downlink, as well as 4×4 MIMO on up to five aggregated LTE carriers, for a total of up to 20 concurrent spatial LTE streams.

To break down some of that terminology — carrier aggregation is a method of piecing together disparate bands of spectrum into one broad swath, allowing for higher throughputs. The highest carrier aggregation currently supported in Canada is 4x carrier aggregation, though through the use of unlicensed spectrum carriers could take full advantage of the modem’s capabilities.

MIMO, meanwhile, stands for multiple input, multiple output and refers to multiple antennas that allow for simultaneous transfer and receipt.

System capacity is further improved through support of Full Dimension MIMO, a form of massive MIMO that is foundational to 5G, reports Qualcomm.

In the uplink, the X24 supports Category 20 upload speeds, 3x20MHz CA and up to 256 QAM encoding.

The modem also uses the world’s first RF chip based on a 14nm process, which should improve power efficiency over its predecessor, the X20.

Further, it’ll improve location positioning in apps and services with support for multi-constellation, multi-frequency global navigation satellite system (GNSS).

During 5G Day, Qualcomm also announced it is working with over 19 manufacturers on 5G devices featuring the X50, including Sony, LG, HTC and OnePlus.