Samsung Electronics will take the wrap off a 5G telecommunication modem chip prototype for smartphones within this year. A change is expected in the modem chip market led by Qualcomm.
It is said that Qualcomm has the most advanced company in the development of 5G modem chips. Recently, latecomer Intel is closely trailing Qualcomm. There is also a prospect that Samsung Electronics will form a three-runner race. Samsung Electronics is reportedly planning to significantly reduce its reliance on US telecom modem chips for 5G smartphones.
According to industry sources on January 16, the System LSI Business Department of the DS Division at Samsung Electronics unveiled 5G modem chip solution Exinos 5G in a private exhibition room at Encore Hotel during the CES period in Las Vegas last week.
The prototype will be shipped to the Wireless Business Division of Samsung Electronics in the second half of this year. Samsung is planning to carry out 5G network interworking tests with mobile telecommunication carriers. The company aims at entering the early 5G market with Qualcomm among others by rolling out commercial models in 2019.
The Samsung Exynos 5G modem chip satisfies Release 15, an early 5G standard set by the 3GPP, a global mobile telecommunication standardization cooperation organization. The standard of 3GPP 5G Release 15 will be completed in coming June.
The Exynos 5G modem chip supports both frequency bands below 6GHz and high- frequency bands called millimeter waves (mmWAVEs) such as 28GHz and 39GHz. The chip also works with back telecommunication technologies such as 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE. The Exynos 5G can use up to 800 MHz by bundling eight 100-MHz bands into a carrier aggregation (CA) technology in high-frequency bands over 28 GHz. Theoretically, the Exynos 5G can realize a download speed of up to 5Gbps. This speed is 10 times faster than that of the current LTE service (a download speed of 500Mbps). The Exynos 5G can download up to 5 times faster than the current best-of-breed LTE modem chip (1 to 1.2Gbps download speed).
At the same time, Exynos supports both 5G non-stand-alone (NSA) and stand-alone (SA) simultaneously. The NSA is a transition technology that uses existing wireless core networks such as LTE in 5G. 5G NSA connects radio waves from a 5G base station to a 4G LTE wired network, or vice versa. NSA networks will be the mainstream until 5G SA which means a complete 5G infrastructure is built.
"The Exynos 5G modem chip is expected to go into commercial 5G smartphones in 2019 when 5G services will be tentatively provided in some areas," said an industry watcher. "Samsung Electronics will tap into the 5G smartphone market in the second half of 2021 or 2022 by actively participating in Release 16, the complete 5G standard."
Qualcomm already unveiled and demonstrated its 5G commercial modem chip Snapdragon X50 last year. Intel also released the 5G commercial modem chip XMM8060 at the end of last year. Qualcomm and Intel said that smartphones with their 5G modem chips would be launched in the first half and the middle of 2019, respectively.