Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE Modem Ushers In Scalable Gigabit LTE Speeds For Mobiles

Companies like Google and Comcast make big to-dos whenever they expand their 1Gbps fiber optic Internet service into a new areas, and with good reason—that's really freaking fast. It's also wired, the same of which can't be said for Qualcomm's crazy-fast Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, the industry's first commercially announced cellular modem supporting Gigabit-class LTE connectivity.

This sucker's built on a 14nm FinFET manufacturing process (just like AMD's forthcoming Zen architecture) and is paired with Qualcomm's RF Transreceiver (WRT5975). The obvious highlight is that it delivers fiber-like LTE Category 16 download speeds of up to 1Gbps with support for up to 4x20 MHz downlink Carrier Aggregation (CA) across FDD and TDD spectrum with 256-QAM.

Qualcomm Speed Graphs

What all that fancy terminology boils down to is an ability to receive 10 unique streams of data using only three 20 MHz carriers. Its support of 256-QAM boosts peak throughput of each of those streams to up to 100Mbps, so in optimal (and theoretical) conditions, you're looking at 1Gbps.

Uploads aren't quite as fast, though still respectable for a mobile (wireless) technology—up to 150Mbps with support for 2x20 MHz uplink carrier aggregation plus 64-QAM. However, this is a scalable architecture using modular components and common software, which Qualcomm says will allow it to evolve its modem product line in rapid fashion.

"In addition to serving as a significant milestone for the mobile industry, the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem is a powerful testament to Qualcomm Technologies’ continued technology leadership in all things wireless," said Cristiano Amon, executive vice president, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and president, QCT. "Not only does the Snapdragon X16 blur the lines between wired and wireless broadband, but marks an important step toward 5G as we enable deeper unlicensed spectrum integration with LTE and more advanced MIMO techniques to support growing data consumption and deliver an even faster and smoother user experience."

This isn't just bragging rights for Qualcomm, it's an answer to an industry that's crying out for faster downloads. Mobile devices, be they phones or tablets, are no longer topping out with 1080p displays—many go well beyond and the industry is responding with higher quality video feeds. There's also been an uptick in video sharing as a whole, with applications like Snapchat ruling the day.

Well done, Qualcomm.