Qualcomm has announced a pair of Snapdragon mobile processors designed to let one mobile device combine three LTE network connections to boost theoretical download speeds as high as 300 Mbit/s. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 818 and 808 chips are 64-bit multicore processors built on a 20-nm process that support the company’s latest version of the Cat 6 LTE Advanced multimode networking protocol with carrier aggregation -- a feature that allows one device to combine more than one cell-network radio link into a single broadband network connection.
Qualcomm has been selling mobile chips with a version of its implementation of carrier aggregation since the June edition of its Gobi LTE modem got the ability to combine two LTE network connections using a 10 MHz-wide band of LTE wireless network spectrum into a single pipe with a theoretical download capacity of 150 Mbit/s.
The current edition, announced in November, is the Gobi LTE modem 9 x 35, which uses two 20 MHz-wide slices of LTE. The Snapdragon 810 and 808 -- announced April 7 -- will include the fourth generation of Qualcomm's Cat 6 LTE Advanced multimode modem that can combine three carrier links of 20 MHz each, which would top out at a theoretical combined top download speed of 300 Mbit/s, according to Qualcomm.
The practical limit of combined LTE data streams is currently pretty narrow, however, because few carriers offer aggregation of any kind, let alone Qualcomm's high-speed bandwidth-hogging 3-stream version of it. Carrier aggregation is being tested in some Asian countries, but has yet to show up in US cellular networks, according to a February 26 story from GigaOm.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chip offers a 14-bit camera dual-image signal processor (ISP) for smartphones.
GigaOm predicted Sprint would be the first US carrier to offer aggregated network links on its high-speed Spark LTE network by combining 40 MHz of spectrum in the 2.5 GHz frequency band.
Verizon Wireless’ LTE network is able to hit 150 Mbit/s in some cities without aggregation, but any real growth in aggregated Cat 6 LTE will have to wait until the feature is more widely supported in mobile processors such as Qualcomm's newly announced two, according to GigaOm.
Carrier aggregation may not be an immediate benefit, but the WiFi on the new Snapdragons is also designed to scream. Both come with multi-user MIMO dual-stream 802.11 a/c wireless network interfaces that send and receive data unidirectionally on different streams in order to improve speed by avoiding the need for a single receiver to stop talking in order to listen.
The Snapdragons will get a dual-stream version of the VIVE 11ac WiFi processing technology from Qualcomm subsidiary Qualcomm Atheros, which is building single-chip three- and four-stream processors for routers and access points, and dual-stream editions for mobile devices, connected TVs, and automotive chipsets.