Qualcomm detailed its 5G plans late last year with the introduction of the X50, its first 5G-enabled modem for smartphones. The company has now announced that it is partnering with Samsung over its next-generation Snapdragon chipsets with 5G capabilities. The upcoming chipsets will be built on Samsung's 7nm node, a huge leap forward that sees the introduction of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.
Samsung Foundry first showed off its 7nm EUV lithography process last May, noting that the technology will "break the barriers of Moore's law scaling." The company also said that the 7nm node will allow up to a 40% increase in area efficiency with up to a 10% uptick in performance, or up to 35% lower power consumption over current 10nm designs.
Therefore, the upcoming Snapdragon 5G mobile chipsets are expected to take up a smaller chip footprint, allowing manufacturers to slot in larger batteries or introduce slimmer designs. The collaboration with Qualcomm is a huge win for Samsung, which overtook Intel to become the largest semiconductor company earlier this year. From Samsung Electronics' executive vice president of foundry sales Charlie Bae:
We are pleased to continue to expand our foundry relationship with Qualcomm Technologies in 5G technologies using our EUV process technology. This collaboration is an important milestone for our foundry business as it signifies confidence in Samsung's leading process technology.
Qualcomm's supply chain SVP RK Chunduru also commented on the partnership:
We are excited to lead the 5G mobile industry together with Samsung. Using 7nm LPP EUV, our new generation of Snapdragon 5G mobile chipsets will take advantage of the process improvements and advanced chip design to improve the user experience of future devices.
Qualcomm has already announced the baseband modem that'll be based on the 7nm node, the X24, but it's likely we'll have to wait at least until 2019 before we get a first look at the 5G-enabled Snapdragon chipset. The first phones powered by the 10nm Snapdragon 845 are set to make their debut next week at Mobile World Congress, and we should hear more about Qualcomm's 5G plans at the conference.
With the initial standard being finalized two months ago, we'll also see more and more carriers announce 5G trials this year.
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