At Qualcomm’s 3G/LTE Summit in Hong Kong, Qualcomm released some details about the modem that will be integrated into their Snapdragon 820 SoC. On the LTE side, Qualcomm is using what they call an X12 modem, which supports UE category 12 on the downlink with speeds of up to 600 Mbps. This is enabled by a move from 64QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) to 256QAM when compared to previous UE Cat. 9 modems like the Snapdragon 810’s integrated modem. However, given that this is enabled by using higher order modulation schemes there is reduced tolerance for noise within the signal. In some situations, higher speeds might be possible but there’s definitely a point where additional speed isn’t viable through such techniques. On the uplink, category 13 LTE allows for up to 150 Mbps upload by moving from 16 to 64 QAM.

For a single downlink carrier, it’s possible to enable up to 4x4 MIMO which allows for better bandwidth and improved coverage. This should improve bandwidth and/or reception quality when an operator only has a single LTE carrier available. Qualcomm estimates that this should double bandwidth relative to previous LTE solutions. Snapdragon 820 will also carry support for LTE-U when used with Qualcomm’s WTR3950 transceiver, a version of LTE that can run on unlicensed spectrum like 2.4 or 5 GHz for additional spectrum. The new modem will also be able to support antenna sharing schemes between LTE and WiFi, which would reduce the complication of implementing an all-metal unibody design that is popular in smartphones.

For WiFi, it looks like Snapdragon 820 will have a 2x2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac solution, likely to be QCA6174A but it isn’t clear if this is an on-die solution. Given that high-end smartphones tend to ship with Broadcom WiFi/BT modules it’s likely that this is an off-die solution. 802.11ad will also be supported, but once again it isn’t clear whether this is on-die. In the absence of information it’s likely that this is simply the Wilocity WiGig chips like the Wil6200.

The final announcement is one of the first applications of the Zeroth platform/cognitive computing, which is intelligent WiFi and mobile data management. It’s likely that this is an OS-level program that is running on the GPU or DSP which uses a number of factors to determine whether to use WiFi or stay on mobile data. This should improve the user experience by preventing connections to poor WiFi or moving to WiFi when mobile data is running on an overloaded eNodeB and/or experiencing poor signal. This can be turned off as well, which suggests that this is a relatively high-level program.

While we have some information about various bits and pieces of Snapdragon 820, the real points of interest like the exact CPU configuration, Kryo architectural details, and interconnect have yet to be revealed. In the coming weeks, we hope to finally piece together the full picture of what Snapdragon 820 will be.

Source: Qualcomm

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  • Taneli - Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - link

    Slowly but surely approaching the ITU 4G standard of 1Gbit/s download speed.
  • Morawka - Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - link

    i really hope mobile operators dont start using that unlicensed 2.4 and 5ghz spectrum. You gotta give the consumer home wireless market some spectrum to work with and we dont need anybody else eating up the channels.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - link

    No. They need to destroy our ability to use wifi so they can sell larger data plans at higher costs.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - link

    Bluetooth failed at that objective because most people only used it intermittently, and it only used part of the 2.4ghz band leaving room for wifi to work on the remainder and all the 5ghz spectrum free from interference. Being able to install wifi jammers on cell towers under the guise of improving service is the only option they have left.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - link

    I fail to see the purpose of 600Mbps download rates when using that rate to its fullest extent for even a small period of time ends up putting you over your cap really quick and you end up with a crippled speed anyway.
  • smartthanyou - Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - link

    So in your world you would prefer max download speeds of the LTE chipset to be so slow that it makes it difficult or impossible to use one's data allotment for a given month?
  • Jimios - Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - link

    Unlimited data at even 1/10th of the advertised speed of this LTE chipset would be far more meaningful than current crappy data plans with 600Mbps speed. My current phone has 100Mbps LTE and I can actually achieve that speed at off-peak times (e.g. 1 AM on a weekday), but it burns through my data so quickly that it's not even funny.

    Qualcomm has done their best, now it's time for carriers to step their game up. At least in my country.
  • chrnochime - Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - link

    No in the US only those that are on corp account or have money to burn would benefit from anything faster than LTE. Of course that point flew right over your head so enjoy paying $10 per gig of data over the cap.
  • jeffkibuule - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    The inverse of faster downloads is quicker race to sleep. If it only takes you 1 second to download a 1MB file instead of 10 seconds, you take away the 9 seconds of using spectrum for downloading the file, increasing power savings and capacity per tower so other people can download content too.

    Granted, there's an ever increasing appetite for data, hence why there exists caps.
  • Jimios - Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - link

    600Mbps LTE... amazing! I will be able to burn through my monthly data plan (300MB) in about 5 seconds. :)

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