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Technology Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 chip won't build in 5G. Here's why it matters

15:30  06 december  2019
15:30  06 december  2019 Source:   cnet.com

Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon chips include two with built-in 5G

  Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon chips include two with built-in 5G Qualcomm just outlined the performance landscape for many of 2020's Android phones -- the company has introduced the Snapdragon 865, 765 and gaming-oriented 765G. They should all improve performance (Qualcomm won't share more until December 4th), but this time around the highest-end chip isn't the star. The upper mid-range 765 series represents Qualcomm's first systems-on-a-chip with integrated 5G, saving them from using separate, power-hungry modems to take advantage of next-gen wireless. That could extend battery life, of course, but it should also make 5G handsets more affordable.

Here ' s why it matters . Hint: battery life and download speeds. The logical question: Why wouldn' t Qualcomm pack 5 G into its biggest and baddest chip ? The Snapdragon 865 "isn' t integrated because it would not be the right technical solution, unless you compromise on the application processor or

" Here ' s why we say 'modem to antenna.' In the 5 G era, the way 5 G works, it 's not about digital; we can' t get any more bits per hertz. The Snapdragon 865 integrates Qualcomm 's FastConnect 6800 component has 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) built in , which in theory would turn 5 G or fiber connections into

Chip giant Qualcomm has gathered hundreds of reporters and analysts in Hawaii this week to talk up its newest processors for mobile devices. Only a few minutes pass without some executive mentioning 5G and how popular the super-fast connectivity will be in 2020.

a bench in front of a building: Qualcomm hosted its third-annual Snapdragon Tech Summit this week in Maui. Shara Tibken/CNET© Provided by CNET Qualcomm hosted its third-annual Snapdragon Tech Summit this week in Maui. Shara Tibken/CNET

But the biggest news of the show hasn't been the whiz bang features of Qualcomm's new chips, though, or how many 5G phones should ship over the next few years. Instead, what everyone has been talking about on the ground at the Snapdragon Tech Summit is something the new Snapdragon 865 processor for premium smartphones doesn't have: an integrated modem.

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 865 flagship is here — without integrated 5G

  Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 865 flagship is here — without integrated 5G The new Snapdragon 865 and 765 will force phone makers to choose between flagship specs and integrated 5GAnnounced alongside the 865 is Qualcomm’s other new processor, the Snapdragon 765, which will feature integrated 5G. However, it’ll be part of a less powerful processor than the 865, which will likely power the next wave of Android flagships in 2020.

The Snapdragon 865 system-on- chip . Why is it that Qualcomm is never far from drama? This does not have an integrated a cellular modem, and instead will be paired with the separate Qualcomm X55 5 G modem with QTM525 mmWave and radio frequency electronics that, depending on your coverage

Whereas the Snapdragon 865 is designed for high-end handsets, the Snapdragon 765, which is a real all-in-one chip , is more oriented towards the mid-range Xiaomi and Oppo are the first two Qualcomm customers to have announced that they will be integrating these chips in their future smartphones

Smartphones need a lot of components to operate, but two key parts that make a phone a phone are the application processor that acts as the brains of a device and a modem that connects it to a mobile network. The first 5G devices needed standalone modems that worked alongside the main computing processor. That was because 5G technology was so new, it was too difficult to combine it with the brains. Now, all chip makers are in the process of combining their modems with their application processors.

a hand holding a sign© Provided by CNET
T-Mobile's new 5G network is here, we go hands on

But Qualcomm's decision to keep the modem separate marks a reversal of its one of its key strategies. The world's biggest wireless chipmaker has long been known for its ability to integrate its processors, known as a system on a chip, or SoC. The biggest benefits of SoCs are better battery life and lower cost. Instead of two chips taking up room in a phone, there's just one, resulting in thinner, sleeker phones or more room for bigger batteries. Having an integrated chip also enables device makers to quickly develop phones for essentially any 5G network in the world, and it makes 5G handsets cheaper for consumers.

Qualcomm: You'll see 200-megapixel cameras in 2020 with Snapdragon 865 chip

  Qualcomm: You'll see 200-megapixel cameras in 2020 with Snapdragon 865 chip The new Snapdragon 865 processor for premium phones include camera upgrades to make photos huge.If that seems like a staggering number of pixels, that's because it is. Dominant brands like Samsung and Apple typically use 12-megapixel or 16-megapixel sensors for their main cameras. In 2019, it was the midrange devices from Huawei , Oppo and others that often adopted 48-megapixel cameras. In the past, phones with extremely large megapixel counts pushed the envelope, but never took off.

Whereas the Snapdragon 865 is designed for high-end handsets, the Snapdragon 765, which is a real all-in-one chip , is more oriented towards the mid-range Xiaomi and Oppo are the first two Qualcomm customers to have announced that they will be integrating these chips in their future smartphones

Qualcomm ' s new flagship-level Snapdragon 865 is the latest lustworthy mobile platform, but it ' s sharing A smaller process gives the 765 an advantage over using an older, but higher-end, chip . The former is the most important: having a fully contained SoC with a 5 G radio built in enables phone

a hand holding a cellphone: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET© Jessica Dolcourt/CNET Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

"Qualcomm has made the argument for years that [integrated chips] are better and more power efficient," Technalysis Research analyst Bob O'Donnell said. "But all kinds of factors could have led them to determine that for now, on the high-end part with more components and capabilities, it's better to keep them separate."

Qualcomm has been talking about its first 5G integrated chip since February, when Samsung joined it on stage at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona to say it would be the first company to use that processor. Many market watchers, including this reporter, assumed it would be Qualcomm's highest-end chip to offer the technology first. We were wrong.

The processor that will power the Galaxy S11 and Pixel 5 is official – everything you need to know

  The processor that will power the Galaxy S11 and Pixel 5 is official – everything you need to know With 2019 almost over, we don’t have any significant smartphone announcements left, as most vendors release new products in time for the busy holiday shopping season that starts in early November, several weeks ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The next batch of flagships will drop in February, before and during the upcoming Mobile World Congress edition in Spain. Phones like the Galaxy S11 series, the next Galaxy Fold generation, or the OnePlus 8 have already appeared in several reports this fall, with Samsung’s next Galaxy S model being the king of leaks so far.

With 5 G , language barriers can become a thing of the past. Devices powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 5 G Mobile Platform can translate languages in real

Qualcomm ’s Snapdragon 865 includes support for 8K video recording, 4K video recording in Dolby Vision HDR, and of course, there’s a big push for 5 G . Here ’ s a hands on with Qualcomm ’s demos at Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui.

Instead, it's Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765 and 765G processors for mid-range phones that come packed with 5G modems, the company said this week at its Snapdragon Tech Summit in Maui. The logical question: Why wouldn't Qualcomm pack 5G into its biggest and baddest chip?

The Snapdragon 865 "isn't integrated because it would not be the right technical solution, unless you compromise on the application processor or compromise on the modem," Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon said in an interview Tuesday. "We chose to compromise on none of them."

If Qualcomm didn't pare back the modem or the app processor features, he said, the resulting chip would be too big and too power hungry for high-end smartphones.

"If try to do a chip without compromising on any of it, the chip is so big, we have issues in terms of cost, ability to scale and performance," Amon said.

5G's first steps

5G promises to significantly boost the speed, coverage and responsiveness of wireless networks. It can run between 10 and 100 times faster than your typical cellular connection today, potentially changing what we can do out in the field.

Qualcomm has revealed the chips that will equip 5G smartphones in 2020

  Qualcomm has revealed the chips that will equip 5G smartphones in 2020 At its annual "Snapdragon Tech Summit," which is being held on the island of Maui in the US state of Hawaii until December 5, 2019, Qualcomm has unveiled two new 5G chips that will equip several new smartphones in 2020. The latest top-of-the-line chip from Qualcomm is the Snapdragon 865, which is the successor to the Snapdragon 855. However, it does not have an integrated 5G modem, but functions automatically with the X55 5G modem-RF system. It follows that all of the phones equipped with this processor will be 5G compatible. The other new processor that was presented is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765, which does have an integrated 5G modem, the X52.

Whereas the Snapdragon 865 is designed for high-end handsets, the Snapdragon 765, which is a real all-in-one chip , is more oriented towards the mid-range Xiaomi and Oppo are the first two Qualcomm customers to have announced that they will be integrating these chips in their future smartphones

Qualcomm just outlined the performance landscape for many of 2020' s Android phones -- the company has introduced the Snapdragon 865 , 765 and gaming-oriented 765G. They should all improve performance ( Qualcomm won ' t share more until December 4th), but this time around the highest-end

Last year's Snapdragon 855, which powered the first 5G phones, came embedded with Qualcomm's X24 gigabit LTE modem. To get a 5G connection, handset makers paired it with the company's X50 5G modem. Most handset makers opted to release one 5G variant and stick with 4G for the rest of their lineup.

"Every 5G product launched for any carrier in the world was an incremental product to what they already had for the year," Ryan Sullivan, vice president of product development and engineering at Sprint, said in an interview Tuesday.

Samsung's main phones this year were the Galaxy S10 and Note 10 with 4G. The 5G models commanded premiums of $300 and $200, respectively, over the 4G versions.

Eventually, "5G becomes part of the package for these devices," Sullivan said. "If it's a few hundred-dollar adder for 5G, it never becomes mass market."

Whether that happens in 2020 is uncertain. Mark McDiarmid, T-Mobile senior vice president of radio network engineering and development, expects the premium for devices accessing the low-band variant of 5G will go away in about two to three years. "But mmWave is a different thing because I think it's going to take other countries deploying mmWave and consume mmWave devices to eliminate the cost premium there," he said in an interview Wednesday.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765 chip could usher in the first affordable 5G phones

  Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765 chip could usher in the first affordable 5G phones Cheaper 5G phones could be on the wayRight now, there’s not a lot of 5G devices out there, and the ones that are around tend to be very expensive. The upcoming 865 might help with that. By default, it’ll only work with the X55 5G modem, meaning every Android flagship with a Snapdragon 865 (i.e., nearly all of them) will, in theory, be a 5G phone next year. But even cheaper Android phones with Qualcomm’s top processor tend to cost upwards of $750. 700-series chips, on the other hand, are found in far cheaper phones, like HMD’s Nokia phones, which hit much lower prices.

At its Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, Qualcomm confirmed that every phone or device that ships with a Snapdragon 865 chip will be 5 G capable, despite the chip itself not having an integrated 5 G modem. No matter – the 865 will only be sold to device manufacturers with 5 G compatibility

Qualcomm announces its Snapdragon 865 , Snapdragon 765, and Specifically, Katzouian said , the Snapdragon 865 will be built around the Snapdragon X55, Qualcomm ’ s second-gen 5 G modem The Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 next to a penny. While the Snapdragon 865 will obviously be the

Snapdragon 865

In a break from tradition, Qualcomm's premium tier Snapdragon 865 won't come with any embedded modem. It will only work when paired with Qualcomm's X55 modem, which connects to everything from 2G to 5G networks. It works on all different flavors of 5G from the slower but more reliable low-band spectrum to the ultra-fast but short-range millimeter wave frequency.

"If you look at performance, we're No. 1 in all areas, sustained CPU, GPU [and so on]," Amon said. "We believe the uses cases [for high-end 5G smartphones] will demand it." (Reporters will conduct speed tests to verify those claims).

He noted that the battery life of devices using the Snapdragon 865 paired with the X55 will be much better than phones last year that combined the Snapdragon 855 with the X50 modem. It will be even better than 4G phones that last year that used only the Snapdragon 855 with its embedded X24 modem, he said.

a hand holding a cell phone: Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765 chip is the first to integrate 5G with the brains of the phone. That helps battery life and makes devices cheaper. Qualcomm© Provided by CNET Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765 chip is the first to integrate 5G with the brains of the phone. That helps battery life and makes devices cheaper. Qualcomm

Part of the rationale behind keeping the modem and application processor separate could be Qualcomm's partnership with Apple, Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin said. Apple is one of the only handset companies in the world that doesn't have integrated modems in its phones. It makes the application processors that run its iPhones, but it relies on partners like Qualcomm and Intel for the modems to connect them to cellular networks.

Snapdragon 865 teases the next-gen smartphone features we’ll get from Galaxy S11 to Pixel 5

  Snapdragon 865 teases the next-gen smartphone features we’ll get from Galaxy S11 to Pixel 5 Qualcomm unveiled its next-gen mobile chips that will power several Android devices next year, including the Snapdragon 865 flagship, and the Snapdragon 765 mid-range processor. The Galaxy S11 will likely come in two chip versions, just like its predecessors, including Snapdragon and Exynos silicon. And the Snapdragon 865 will power many Android flagships, starting with the Galaxy S11, which should launch in February and all the way through October 2020, when the Pixel 5 will be unveiled.

Qualcomm unveils Snapdragon 865 : Everything we know so far. Qualcomm has also taken the wraps off the Snapdragon 765, a more mid-tier chip that also features integrated 5 G . It ' s no mystery why Qualcomm would produce more chipsets with built - in 5 G connectivity.

Qualcomm says that its new Qualcomm 865 features 25% faster CPU and GPU than its predecessor. As reported by AnandTech, Snapdragon 865 is based 4. Mandatory Snapdragon X55 Chip for 5 G . Qualcomm wants major OEMs to bring devices with 5 G modem and it is the reason why it has not

Qualcomm also has launched a new 5G module system that combines its modem with the antennas needed to connect a phone to a network. That move makes it easier for companies to churn out 5G phones faster and lets companies without deep engineering know-how create new devices. HMD, which makes Nokia phones, is one company that will use Qualcomm's modules.

The strategy of keeping the 865 and modem separate "doesn't lock new customers into only having to use the full SoC," Bajarin said. "Serving Apple actually helps them serve new markets so it's win-win. I believe they could have integrated it but chose not to so they can develop the module strategy which is a good one."

Snapdragon 765

To get even better battery life and the benefits of integrated chips, though, handset makers will have turn to Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 765 or 765G (the "G" version is for gaming phones).

Handset makers using the integrated Snapdragon 765 get some premium features, but they're not quite as high end as in the 865. The 765's X52 modem reaches only 3.7Gbps download speeds versus 7.5Gbps in the x55 modem that pairs with the 865, and it can't run as many operations per second.

"The difference [from the Snapdragon 865] is scaled-down version of features," Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager of mobile at Qualcomm, said in an interview ahead of the summit.

He added that when shifting to 4G LTE a decade ago, Qualcomm didn't integrate the modem with the application processor in its high-end chip until the third generation.

"The standard is new," Katouzian said. "We haven't had time to vet out different features for the modem to make it more optimized and smaller. What happens over the course of time is some features get used a lot more than others so we can figure out what to use and what not to use."

Stacking up with rivals

Qualcomm, however, faces a pack of rivals -- Huawei, MediaTek and Samsung -- that have already unveiled their own integrated 5G processors.

Podcast: What Qualcomm's new chips tell us about next year's gadgets

  Podcast: What Qualcomm's new chips tell us about next year's gadgets Another year, another round of Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm. This week, Cherlynn and Devindra dive into the Snapdragon 865 and 765 to see what they tell us about next year's devices. They're faster than before, of course, but they'll also come with a slew of useful new features for smartphones, tablets and even laptops. Of course, they're also built with 5G support in mind -- though not in the way you'd expect. Listen below, or subscribeListen below, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 is the sequel to the Snapdragon 855, and we're getting the first As it stands, very few of the best Android phones don’ t use a Snapdragon chip , so the capabilities What’ s interesting is that there’ s going to be a second 5 G chipset platform: the Snapdragon 765/765G.

Huawei's Kirin 990 chip, announced at IFA in September, integrates 5G with the brains of the device for its own premium smartphones. MediaTek's new Dimensity 1000 5G-integrated chip also targets the high-end smartphone market, and it's the only one that boasts download speeds higher than Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765.

Samsung's 5G-integrated Exynos 980, unveiled in September, is aimed more at mid-range devices.

Galaxy S10 5G set the pace for Samsung's 5G phones

Huawei's 990 chip can facilitate download speeds of 2.3Gbps and upload speeds of 1.25Gbps. In comparison, MediaTek's Dimensity 1000 boasts download speeds of up to 4.7Gbps and upload speeds of 2.6Gbps. Both have limitations on which bands they can tap into; they can't access the ultra-fast millimeter wave spectrum favored by Verizon.

"Our 5G technology goes head-to-head with anyone in the industry," MediaTek President Joe Chen said in a press release announcing the Dimensity 1000 last month.

Amon, in a roundtable with reporters on Tuesday, disputed the claims by Qualcomm's rivals that they have the most powerful, efficient chips.

"There are some companies who rush into integration," Amon said. "A competitor in China … downgraded the capability of the modem as it went from discrete to integrated."

He didn't name the rival, but he likely was referring to Huawei. The Chinese company's earlier discrete 5G chip, the Balong 5000, could reach download speeds that topped out at 7.5Gbps when combining 5G with LTE. Its integrated Kirin 990 only works on the lower spectrum bands and has peak download speeds only half as fast as the Balong 5000.

"Everybody rushed to do an SoC, compromising the technology on the modem and the apps processor," Amon said in an interview with CNET. That included "companies who had everything to lead in the modem. … It's interesting that when everyone went that direction, we went the other direction."

We'll now have to see what that actually means for 2020's smartphones.

CNET's Jessica Dolcourt contributed to this report.

Podcast: What Qualcomm's new chips tell us about next year's gadgets .
Another year, another round of Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm. This week, Cherlynn and Devindra dive into the Snapdragon 865 and 765 to see what they tell us about next year's devices. They're faster than before, of course, but they'll also come with a slew of useful new features for smartphones, tablets and even laptops. Of course, they're also built with 5G support in mind -- though not in the way you'd expect. Listen below, or subscribeListen below, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice.

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