What are 5G Mobile MODEM differences, Qualcomm vs. Intel?

It is well known that Qualcomm and Intel are after 5G Mobile MODEM market with X50 and XMMTM 8060, respectively, and preparing to launch production in 2019.

Let’s delve into the difference between the features and functionality of the 5G MODEM.

Qualcomm will be using TSMC 7nm technology, whereas Intel is focusing on 10nm CMOS.

Qualcomm will be integrating 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G, WiFi, BT, GPS MODEM into a single BB SoC.

Intel model is to integrate 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G MODEM into a single BB SoC.

Both Qualcomm and Intel are working to have RF interface front end transceiver for the BB SoC.

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Posted on November 23, 2017

Why Apple is still using Qualcomm Radio Interface Transceiver, MODEM, Power management IC and what does really all mean?

Recent iPhone8 and X10 tear-downs have confirmed that Apple using WTR5975 Transceiver, MDM9655 X16 LTE modem, and PDM9655 power management and temperature compensations IC for Qualcomm chips.

Earlier this year, in January 2017 Apple sues Qualcomm for royalty charges practice.

Is Apple Engineering Leadership are out of synch with their Corporation Lawyers?  Probably not, let’s look at the timelines of sequence of events.

Apple Law suite occurs in January 2017.  It would be fair to say that the decision for law suite finalized before holidays in 2016 or even earlier.  If so, but why Apple waited to act sooner?

What caused for Apple Engineering leadership to use Qualcomm chips for iPhone8 and X10?

It is well known that Apple has been trying to add LTE Transceiver and MODEM to its processor portfolio for the past few years.

However, with all Apple resources and efforts, Apple could yet to solve the carrier aggregation requirements for LTE, to achieve high data rates for advanced LTE Categories.  This is well known among Apple Engineering leaderships.

So, in one hand Apple products needs Qualcomm IC to function, and on the other hand Apple does not like the amount of royalty contracts obligations.

In order to achieve the royalty issue, Apple has decided to sue Qualcomm in 2016, knowing well that it would not disrupt the shipments of Qualcomm while they are in full negotiations to bridge their business differences.

What would happen next?

Let’s take a guess, Apple and Qualcomm negotiations will result in continuous shipment of Qualcomm and obligations that Qualcomm to be the main source for 5G technology.  In return, Apple would get a better deal on royalty charges.  Apple has new iPhone model every year in autumn, for that to stay on track, Apple has to resolve its law suit by early 2018, Q1.

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Posted on November 11, 2017 

What it PolyStrata?

PolyStrata is an innovative process that allows realizing mmW passive filter and transmission line on printed circuit board with high quality factor, i.e. low insertion loss.  This process opens door to more compact components with waveguide quality performance.  The applications can be in front end mmW mobile communications and automotive radar.  This process has already found tractions in military applications.  Consumer products market is new for this process with its challenges of cost entry and product definitions.

If you are interested to learn and discover cost effective solution with superb performance for your applications, inquire via info@ortenga.com .

July 16, 2017

Apple vs. Qualcomm Litigation

Apple has sued Qualcomm for 1B$ and stopped paying the royalties earlier this year.

This would give Apple leverage to renegotiate the royalty terms with Qualcomm. Qualcomm roadmap and revenue stream depends on Apple.

In return, Qualcomm has filed for a ban on Apple iPhone products entry to U.S.  Should Qualcomm get the ban on Apple iPhone products, this would impact on Apple revenue stream.

Neither Apple nor Qualcomm can live without each other.  Therefore, Apple and Qualcomm would come to negotiating table sooner than this summer and would mend the differences before fall.

Apple would receive a better deal on royalties and Qualcomm would ensure their place in iPhone roadmap.

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Posted on May 6, 2017

Would 5G rely on GaAs, GaN, SiGe, or CMOS?

CMOS historically have been used for baseband signal processing in any radio technology and will continue at least be used due to it low cost and scalable geometry for the next 5 years.

Even though CMOS is trying to reach handset power amplification in 4G market, it is unlikely that it would succeed in mmW, due to limited breakdown voltage and power density.

On the other hand, GaAs has typically been used for handset market and will likely continued to be used for mmW.

GaN technology is being introduced to the market for that past decade and even though the cost per wafer is more expensive than alternatives, GaAs, CMOS, and SiGe, it will probably be the technology of choice for mmW Base Stations power amplifiers due to higher power density, 12W/mm, and breakdown voltage, 80V, in comparison to GaAs.

SiGe has been used on some mmW transceiver IC and probably will have some success capturing 5G market, as well.  Also, wide bandwidth data converters may find their way through SiGe technology for 1Gbps sampling rate or higher.

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Posted on January 15, 2017 

Would 5G rely on DPA or DPD?

There are number of different linearization techniques which are used in Tx chain to increase the power efficiency of the transmitter, hence enhanced radio talk time.  Recently, 4G and CA have utilized digital pre-distortion, aka DPD, technique to run handset PA along with ET at near compression point, such that optimum efficiency is achieved by corresponding PA. It is almost certain that DPD technique will be used for 5G technology as well.

On that other hand, Doherty Power Amplifiers, aka DPA, are gaining traction for CA and 5G base stations.  Currently, they provide 60-65% efficiency utilizing legacy technique going back to 1936.  However with some additional investment and work, there are potential opportunities to even further enhance that elegant design topology by William H. Doherty at Bell Lab.

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Posted on January 12, 2017 

Why 5G needs massive MIMO + BF at mmW Bands? 

It is well known that MIMO increase the capacity/data rate by factor of M, i.e. the number of inputs/outputs antennas/sensors.

It is also well known that BF increase the directivity of desired signal, hence increased SNR, which also increases the capacity/data rate, albeit by log2 (SNR), i.e. slower rate increase relative to MIMO.

As frequency increases the wavelength decreases, therefore the antenna size and/or antenna array dimension decreases.  As a result, at mmW band, it is possible to pack together a larger number of antennas to form the array for given area, which yields higher directivity, hence better SNR.

MIMO provides the same SINR for each UE, which is not typically an optimum and desired condition, as each user requires different data rate, hence difference SINR.

MIMO and BF simultaneously allows higher data rate as well as optimized SINR for each UE.

In light of the above, 5G mmW bands radio will utilize MIMO and BF, simultaneously.  To support multiple UE, the number of antennas has to be much larger than the users, hence massive MIMO + BF.

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Posted on January 10, 2017

5G UE MODEM at 2017 CES 

Intel presented their 5G UE MODEM at CES this week.  The MODEM has integrated 5G BB as well as legacy 4G, UMTS, 802.11, and 802.15 BB capabilities onto 10nm SOC.  This allows the radio to switch back and forth between legacy and 5G technology such that it maintains the maximum throughput available based on the location and distance from BS and/or AP. This could be considered X50 competitor in the 2017 market.  MediaTek and Samsung have yet to reveal their 5Groadmap in MODEM market.

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Posted on January 4, 2017