Qualcomm shows X16 Gigabit LTE modem working

MWC 2016: 979Mbps over LTE or enough for most phones

Qualcomm Snapdragon logoRemember that Qualcomm GbLTE announcement for the new X16 modem? In case you haven’t guessed by now it actually works at that speed and SemiAccurate saw it in action at MWC.

The upcoming post-Snapdragon 820 X12 modem is called the X16 and it’s headline feature is obviously the Gigabit downlink speeds over standard LTE. You can read the details in Thomas Ryan’s article here or you can just imagine that it uses a lot of very wide carriers to achieve those results. If you want an exact count of the bands, look at the circles on the right side of the picture below. Should you not care about the fine print that much, the short version is three carriers, two using four bands and one using two, each good for about 100Mbps.

Qualcomm Gigabit LTE X16 radio demo

Not quite 1000 but close enough for us

The demo at MWC which ‘only’ hit 979Mbps was running live on real hardware seen just below the S|A logo. Running anything with a radio at MWC is a trick but bleeding edge high bandwidth multi-channel radios is damn near impossible, not to mention a paperwork nightmare to do over public airwaves. In this case the X16 modem was wired to the transmitter but the author has no doubt it would work in the real world over the air at similar rates. So the first live public demo of the X16 didn’t hit the magic number but came close enough to call it a negligible difference, minor hiccups on any channel would explain that difference. A firmware rev or two and those missing 21Mbps should be there plus a few more.

One interesting thing to think about while pondering speeds, the X12 in the Snapdragon 820 will be out long before anyone lights up a Cat 12 network. Devices bearing it will have a significant percentage of the market, the hardware will be in consumer’s hands long before it is in the towers. This is quite a change from a few years ago when you had to wait for consumer radios to take advantage of new telco standards, the balance of power has been completely flipped around. Isn’t it great?S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate