Qualcomm Enhances Snapdragon Performance

Article By : John Walko

Qualcomm has outlined details of its latest Snapdragon 888 Plus chipset, which now has a 3GHz prime CPU core and a much improved AI engine.

Qualcomm was one of the few companies making important announcements during the first day of this year’s (mostly virtual) Mobile Word Congress.

Though not actually present, the San Diego-based chip group outlined details of its latest Snapdragon 888 Plus chipset, which now has a 3GHz prime CPU core and a much improved AI engine that Qualcomm says offers a 20% better performance compared to the original Snapdragon 888 launched six months ago.


Several companies, including Motorola, Asus, Vivo and Xiaomi have already said they plan to use the Plus engine in devices to be introduced by the third quarter of the year.

Perhaps more significantly for the long term, Qualcomm said it is winning increased support for 5G mmWave frequencies globally, and introduced what it says is the first 3GPP release 16 small cell platform, the FSM200xx, as well as higher performance 5G Distributed Unit (DU) X100 accelerator cards.

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Both should give the 5G ecosystem a major boost and accelerate the shift towards 5G virtual/ Open RAN.

Qualcomm says the FMS200xx offers support for all commercial global mmWave and Sub-6GHz bands, including the new n259 (41GHz), the n258 (26GHz) and FDD bands, and would generate small cell densification in both public and private networks. It adds the wider bandwidth support (up to 200 MHz), smaller form-factor and improved power efficiency will allow the updated platform to make deployments easier and more flexible.

Perhaps even more importantly, with its support for Rel.16, and thus Enhanced Ultra-Reliable, Low Latency Communications (eURLLC), the platform has the potential to kick-start 5G deployment for many industry verticals, extending its reach beyond smartphones. Qualcomm says the FMS200xx would help power the factories of the future and make them untethered, modular and more flexible, and thus bring the Industry 4.0 vision closer to reality.

Meanwhile, the 5G DU X100 is a PCle inline accelerator card with concurrent Sub-6 GHz and mmWave baseband support that the company suggests will simplify 5G developments by offering a turnkey solution for ease of deployment with Open RAN front haul and 5G NR layer 1 processing.

Qualcomm 5G DU X100 Accelerator Card

The card is capable of offloading almost entirely the latency-sensitive data pipeline, and with its industry-standard form-factor and interface, can work with any server platform. It was designed to seamlessly plug into standard Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) servers so as to offload CPUs from latency-sensitive and compute-intensive 5G baseband functions such as demodulation, beamforming, channel coding and Massive MIMO computation necessary for high-capacity deployments.

Qualcomm welcomed the global industry’s increasing momentum to deploy 5G mmWave, just as the GSA suggested over 180 operators worldwide are now investing in the technology. “The global deployment of 5G mmWave is now inevitable. It is essential to achieve the full potential of 5G and those embracing 5G mmWave will find themselves with a competitive advantage,” commented Cristiano Amon, president and chief executive officer elect at the company.

Amon also noted and named some 60 companies, including equipment suppliers and operators with which it is collaborating “to accelerate its deployment worldwide.”

Other noteworthy announcements during a quiet opening day at MWC 2021 included new tablets from Lenovo as well as a second generation of ‘Smart Clock’, and a so called ‘unified platform’, built jointly between Samsung and Google for a forthcoming Galaxy Watch.

The companies say the platform would bring a more seamless experience between the watch and Android-based smartphones, and thus access to more sophisticated applications.

Separately from MWC but still with mobile communications, STMicroelectronics and Sierra Wireless have joined forces with Orange and Lacroix to form what the companies say could become a supergroup that they dubbed the IoT Continuum.

The partnership wants to simplify and speed up the mass deployment of IoT in Europe and beyond.

The group brings together expertise in different aspects of the IoT industry – Orange the connectivity, ST Micro and Sierra Wireless the hardware and software and Lacroix the design and manufacturing  capabilities – to increase the confidence of businesses in the concept of IoT by addressing the existing  uncertainty and complexity for potential users, as well as reduce costs of deployment.

The partners will also promote eSIM and 5G technologies to drive Massive IoT in vertical markets such as smart buildings, health, automotive, and smart manufacturing.

They will promote a three-step process to support businesses’ IoT projects on cellular networks without having to liaise with multiple players on the market.

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