Qualcomm touts performance improvements with new mobile chip, 5G tech

Qualcomm Inc. today debuted a new processor for mobile devices and announced a technical milestone in its efforts to develop more powerful 5G networking technology.

Qualcomm’s efforts in the mobile processor and 5G segments are closely interlinked. The company’s technology can be found both in the handsets with which consumers connect to mobile networks, as well as inside the mobile networks themselves. Qualcomm counts among its customers most major mobile device makers and dozens of carriers worldwide. 

The new Snapdragon 732G mobile processor introduced today targets handset makers building upper midrange devices. It’s an upgrade to Qualcomm’s existing Snapdragon 730G, which powers the base model of Google LLC’s Pixel 4.

Qualcomm has enhanced the chip’s onboard Adreno 618 graphics processing unit to provide 15% better performance. The central processing unit, in turn, packs an updated primary core that runs at a top speed of 2.3 gigahertz, a slight increase over the previous-generation Snapdragon 730G.

The Snapdragon 732G is notable for being among the few Qualcomm chips made with a eight-nanometer fabrication process. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., one of the suppliers on which the company relies to manufacture its chips, has developed the eight-nanometer process to serve as a stepping stone between 10-nanometer and seven-nanometer architectures. Qualcomm already makes its top-end chips using seven-nanometer technology.

“Snapdragon 732G will deliver a powerful gaming experience, sophisticated on-device AI and superior performance,” said Kedar Kondap, Qualcomm’s vice president of product management.

The other announcement Qulacomm made today, concerning its 5G development efforts, is that its engineers have performed the “world’s first extended-range” call using mmWave 5G technology. The signal traveled a distance of 3.8 kilometres, or about 2.3 miles.

The milestone is notable because current 5G technology has range limitations that create challenges for carriers. Specifically, the issue affects mmWave 5G, the version of the technology that promises to provide the greatest connection speedups. Carriers have found that mmWave base stations can only support connections over distances of a few hundred feet, which means they need to be deployed in large numbers to adequately cover a given area.

Qualcomm managed to increase the range to 2.3 miles by applying “extended-range software” to carrier gear from network equipment maker Ericsson. To send the packets, the chipmaker used a device powered by its X55 5G modem and QTM527 antenna modules. Qualcomm touts the project as a milestone towards making 5G viable not only for mobile connectivity, but also as an alternative to traditional wired home broadband. 

The experiment is the “first step in utilizing mmWave for an extended-range 5G data transfer,” said Gautam Sheoran, Qualcomm’s senior director of product management.

Photo: Qualcomm

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