Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X60 5G modem builds on its two 5G predecessors—the X50 and X55—by adding sub-6 GHz and mmWave carrier aggregation, plus other features. According to Qualcomm, the 5 nm process used to fabricate the X60 provides higher power efficiency into a smaller footprint. Additional features include:
- 5G frequency-division duplex (FDD) and time-division duplex (TDD) sub-6 carrier aggregation, which helps networks maximize their spectrum resources for coverage and peak speeds. The 5G TDD-TDD sub-6 carrier aggregation lets SA networks double peak speeds compared to the Snapdragon X55.
- Aggregation of sub-6 GHz and mmWave signals.
- Voice-over-5GNR (VoNR), for carrying voice on the 5G new radio.
In addition to introducing the X60, Qualcomm has introduced the QTM535 mmWave antenna, which is smaller than the previous generation and with improved mmWave performance, according to the company. The X60 handles mmWave baseband and RF signal processing, letting it connect directly to the antenna module. See diagram.
At its February 14 press briefing prior to launching the X60, Qualcomm did not provide specifications for the X60 nor for the QTM535. Thus, when the company says “provides higher power efficiency,” we don’t know what “higher” means. Similarly, we don’t at this time know how much smaller the QTM535 is compared to previous models. Engineers need such details when making design decisions. 5GTW has reached out to Qualcomm for specifications but had not at press time received a reply.
Although Qualcomm claims that the QTM535 antenna is smaller than predecessors such as the QTM525, it may not be small enough. On February 14, Fast Company reported that Apple was considering designing its own mmWave antenna because Qualcomm’s QTM525, now the previous generation, was too large for Apple’s upcoming 5G phone. Perhaps the QTM535 is indeed small enough for Apple and last week’s report may be moot now.