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Intel 7360 Nears LTE Lead

April 7, 2015

Author: Linley Gwennap

Intel is racing with market leader Qualcomm to be the first to production with a Category 10 LTE-Advanced baseband. Intel’s new four-chip XMM 7360 platform supports three-carrier aggregation (3xCA) on the downlink and 2xCA on the uplink, resulting in peak data rates of 450Mbps down and 100Mbps up. These speeds match those of Qualcomm’s 9245 modem, which we expect in commercial devices midyear.

Intel’s new modem matches many other features of the 9245. The five-mode design includes FD-LTE, TD-LTE, and TD-SCDMA for compatibility with China Mobile as well as other operators around the world. It can aggregate TDD and FDD spectrum simultaneously. The chip and its software support Release 11 features such as voice-over-LTE (VoLTE), self-organizing networks (SONs), and LTE broadcast (eMBMS). It also handles dual LTE SIM cards in standby mode (DSDS).

The XMM 7360 platform includes the X-Gold 736 baseband processor and the X-PMU 736 for power management, plus two RF chips: the Smarti 5 RF transceiver and the Smarti 5c. As with previous cellular chips, Intel outsources manufacturing; the X-Gold 736 and Smarti 5 chips both use TSMC’s 28nm processes.

Intel’s Category 6 LTE platform, the XMM 7260, is currently shipping in some models of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4 smartphones. According to VentureBeat, Apple will use the XMM 7360 in a 2016-model iPhone. Intel’s former-Infineon unit supplied 2G baseband chips for early iPhones but lost the socket to Qualcomm when Apple added CDMA support in 2011.

Intel says the XMM 7360 will arrive sometime in the second half, hot on Qualcomm’s heels. The company now provides a strong alternative for standalone LTE modems, offering similar performance and capabilities on a schedule that meets the needs of flagship smartphones and tablets.

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