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Snapdragon X60 Offers 5G in 5nm

March 10, 2020

Author: Linley Gwennap

Despite the cancellation of Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm announced its next-generation Snapdragon X60 modem chip for 5G devices. The X60's features are similar to the current Snapdragon X55's, but the new chip is among the first to use 5nm technology to increase power efficiency. It can aggregate data from more band combinations than its predecessor, giving carriers greater flexibility in their network designs, but its performance and features are otherwise the same. The company plans to sample the X60 this month and expects it to appear in premium smartphones in early 2021.

Qualcomm also expanded its RF offerings with the QTM535, its third-generation RF front end for millimeter-wave (mmWave) 5G. The company is the only vendor that offers mmWave RF front-end (RFFE) modules. Like the X60 modem it pairs with, the QTM535 offers a modest shrink from its predecessor. Unlike for previous models, Qualcomm withheld module dimensions as well as photos of the new part alongside its predecessor or any other object. The new product also includes unspecified analog improvements that are probably of similar magnitude. Like the previous part, a single model covers both band N257 (26­-28GHz) and band N260 (39GHz).

For this year's premium-tier smartphones, Qualcomm pairs the X55 modem with its Snapdragon 865. This combination recently began shipping in Samsung's Galaxy S20. For 2021 phones, the X60 could serve a similar role, although Qualcomm may also decide to integrate the modem by then, as it has in the mid-tier Snapdragon 765. The X55 will appear in 5G iPhones later this year, and the X60 will serve in Apple's 2021 models, per the companies' multiyear agreement. Qualcomm will likely offer other versions of these modem chips for PCs, automobiles, and other non-phone devices.

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