Sometimes Long-Term Evolution wireless is presented as the future of mobile, and the answer to network incompatibility. That's half true. While LTE and GSM tend to play nice (or at least nicer than the entirely disparate GSM and CDMA standards) the bands and frequencies used for high-speed wireless access vary pretty widely in different countries, or here in the US, across different networks. Chip OEM Qualcomm is hoping to banish network anxiety with a new family of LTE radios, christened RF360. You can expect to see the radios embedded on future Snapdragon platforms.
The RF360 will work across a staggering amount of standard frequency ranges: GSM, CDMA and WCDMA, EV-DO, and an impressive array of LTE bands. It's the wireless equivalent of the 40-plug charger you see in the bargain bin at Radio Shack. A dynamic matching tuner, integrated amplifier switch, and 3D-RF packaging should improve reception Qualcomm is also tooting its horn about the power-saving capabilities, smaller footprint, and cheaper production costs of the next-generation radio.
Keep in mind that just having the various bands and frequencies available doesn't mean that you'll be able to hop networks like a digital flea. Carriers, especially in the US and Canada, have been known to place software blocks on hardware that's surplus to their requirements. Feel free to dig through the technical jargon in the press release below.
SAN DIEGO, Feb. 21, 2013
Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., introduced the Qualcomm RF360 Front End Solution, a comprehensive, system-level solution that addresses cellular radio frequency band fragmentation and enables for the first time a single, global 4G LTE design for mobile devices. Band fragmentation is the biggest obstacle to designing today's global LTE devices, with 40 cellular radio bands worldwide.
The Qualcomm RF front end solution comprises a family of chips designed to mitigate this problem while improving RF performance and helping OEMs more easily develop multiband, multimode mobile devices supporting all seven cellular modes, including LTE-FDD, LTE-TDD, WCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, TD-SCDMA and GSM/EDGE. The RF front end solution includes the industry's first envelope power tracker for 3G/4G LTE mobile devices, a dynamic antenna matching tuner, an integrated power amplifier-antenna switch, and an innovative 3D-RF packaging solution incorporating key front end components.
The Qualcomm RF360 solution is designed to work seamlessly, reduce power consumption and improve radio performance while reducing the RF front end footprint inside of a smartphone by up to 50 percent compared to the current generation of devices. Additionally, the solution reduces design complexity and development costs, allowing OEM customers to develop new multiband, multimode LTE products faster and more efficiently. By combining the new RF front end chipsets with Qualcomm Snapdragon all-in-one mobile processors and Gobi™ LTE modems, Qualcomm Technologies can supply OEMs with a comprehensive, optimized, system-level LTE solution that is truly global.
The Qualcomm RF360 front end solution also represents a significant technological advancement in overall radio performance and design, and it comprises the following components:
- Dynamic Antenna Matching Tuner (QFE15xx) – The world's first modem-assisted and configurable antenna-matching technology extends antenna range to operate over 2G/3G/4G LTE frequency bands, from 700-2700 MHz. This, in conjunction with modem control and sensor input, dynamically improves the antenna's performance and connection reliability in the presence of physical signal impediments, like the user's hand.
- Envelope Power Tracker (QFE11xx) – The industry's first modem-assisted envelope tracking technology designed for 3G/4G LTE mobile devices, this chip is designed to reduce overall thermal footprint and RF power consumption by up to 30 percent, depending on the mode of operation. By reducing power and heat dissipation, it enables OEMs to design thinner smartphones with longer battery life.
- Integrated Power Amplifier / Antenna Switch (QFE23xx) – The industry's first chip featuring an integrated CMOS power amplifier (PA) and antenna switch with multiband support across 2G, 3G and 4G LTE cellular modes. This innovative solution provides unprecedented functionality in a single component, with smaller PCB area, simplified routing and one of the smallest PA/antenna switch footprints in the industry.
- RF POP™ (QFE27xx) – The industry's first 3D RF packaging solution, integrates the QFE23xx multimode, multiband power amplifier and antenna switch, with all the associated SAW filters and duplexers in a single package. Designed to be easily interchangeable, the QFE27xx allows OEMs to change the substrate configuration to support global and/or region-specific frequency band combinations. The QFE27xx RF POP enables a highly integrated multiband, multimode, single-package RF front end solution that is truly global.
OEM products featuring the complete Qualcomm RF360 Solution are anticipated to be launched in the second half of 2013.
Qualcomm also announced today a new RF transceiver chip, the WTR1625L. The chip is the first in the industry to support carrier aggregation with a significant expansion in the number of active RF bands. The WTR1625L can accommodate all cellular modes and 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE frequency bands and band combinations that are either deployed or in commercial planning globally. Additionally, it has an integrated, high-performance GPS core that also supports GLONASS and Beidou systems. The WTR1625L is tightly integrated in a wafer scale package and optimized for efficiency, offering 20 percent power savings compared to previous generations. The new transceiver, along with the Qualcomm RF360 front end chips, is integral to Qualcomm Technologies Inc.'s single-SKU World Mode LTE solution for mobile devices that are expected to launch in 2013.