SAN JOSE, Calif. — Intel released a few bullet points from the roadmap for its cellular baseband chips. Its plans for 5G and advanced LTE chips aim to close the gap with its rival Qualcomm.
Specifically, Intel said that its customers will ship systems in 2018 with an upgraded XMM 7650 baseband that supports CDMA and Gbits/s downlinks. An XMM 7660 will ship in products in mid-2019 supporting 3GPP Release 14 with 4x4 MIMO and data rates up to 1.6 Gbits/s.
In 5G, Intel completed a 28-GHz call using a dedicated silicon implementation of the Verizon 5GTF spec. It plans to have XMM 8060 chips in customer systems shipping in mid-2019 that support the still-emerging 3GPP New Radio standard, the first in a series of 5G XMM 8000 products.
The 8060 will support both non-standalone and standalone modes as well as 2/3G and LTE. Using different RF front-end chips, it will support both millimeter-wave frequencies and bands below 6 GHz.
Intel declined to provide data rates for the 5G chips or power consumption levels for any of the basebands. Overall, Intel aims to be a top supplier for cellular networks from RF front ends to back-end host processors.
“We strongly believe our [baseband] capability will be industry-leading,” said Chenwei Yan, general manager of Intel’s connected products group.
The updated Intel roadmap potentially matches but doesn’t exceed what is expected from Qualcomm, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst of market watcher Tirias Research.
“Qualcomm will probably still be first with a modem for tests and first devices, but the devil is in the details. In the past, Intel hasn’t been able to match the frequency band combinations [that] Qualcomm supported … details on support for licensed and unlicensed bands and the extent of carrier aggregation is part of the fine print that is hard to get out of everyone.”
Apple started using Intel LTE basebands in as many as half of its iPhones last year following patent disputes with Qualcomm. It is said to be considering shifting entirely to Intel next year.
Both Intel and Qualcomm have previously declared their intentions to have 5G basebands supporting sub-6 GHz and mmwave frequencies previously. The current announcement marks a slightly more detailed reveal of Intel’s plans.
The 3GPP 5G radio standard, led by a Qualcomm engineer, is not expected to be finished until the end of the year.
Next page: The outlook for 5G deployments
Intel’s wireless roadmap also calls for 802.11ax Wi-Fi chips for access points and clients in 2018. Click to enlarge. (Image: Intel)