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Intel announces 5G modem at CES

Following Qualcomm's announcement in October, Intel has jumped on the 5G modem bandwagon, unveiling its solution at CES on Wednesday.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Chip giant Intel has announced its 5G modem at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017 in Las Vegas, calling it a "milestone for the industry" as it will allow companies to develop and launch 5G solutions earlier than previously anticipated.

According to Intel, the modem is the first to enable 5G trials anywhere in the world because its single chip supports both millimetre-wave (mmWave) and sub-6GHz spectrum bands, incorporating Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), beam-forming technology, and advanced channel coding.

MIMO sends multiple channels of data at the same time, allowing users to have peak performances simultaneously, while beam-forming technology uses antenna arrays to steer a beam to where a user is.

Intel's 5G modem should support speeds of over 5Gbps and ultra low latency, with Intel expecting it to be used initially in the home broadband, mobile, and automotive industries.

The modem also integrates with Intel's 28GHz 5G Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit (RFIC), as well as its 4G XMM 7360 LTE modem for 4G/5G interworking.

Intel also used its CES announcement to launch its 5G-ready GO platform, which is intended to help autonomous vehicles connect using cloud computing, with two GO development kits for its Atom and Xeon processors also announced.

As part of the GO platform launch, Intel has partnered with BMW and Mobileye, and said it will have 40 autonomous cars on the roads by mid year. Intel also recently acquired 15 percent of digital mapping company HERE as part of its push into autonomous vehicles.

Intel laid out its 5G roadmap during Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016, saying it would be working with Nokia, Ericsson, LG, Verizon, and others on 5G network development, testing, and deployment.

"5G represents a significant shift for these networks, and we think it's essential to get ready ahead of the curve," Aicha Evans, corporate vice president and general manager of the Intel communication and services group, said at the time.

"We need to make sure we partner with everybody in the ecosystem, all of the trendsetters and the leaders, so there's an ecosystem we can roam and have a single worldwide view."

Intel also used MWC to announce its Atom x3-M7272 wireless communication platform for "automotive applications capable of powering advance security features", as well as the Intel XMM 7120M LTE modem, which is aimed at Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) use cases.

In December, Intel said it would be partnering with US telecommunications provider AT&T and Ericsson on a public 5G trial in Austin, Texas, in an effort to attain speeds of 14Gbps for 4K video using mmWave technology across the 15GHz and 28GHz spectrum bands.

"This trial is a significant step forward. We're leaving the lab and heading into the field with a real-world business customer," Rick Hubbard, senior VP of networking product management at AT&T, said in December.

"We expect mmWave technology to be an important part of 5G. The trial will help accelerate our 5G work by shedding new light on how the technology acts in a business environment."

AT&T on Tuesday further announced that it will use the first half of this year to test its 5G network with DirecTV Now customers in Austin.

The launch of Intel's 5G modem follows Qualcomm revealing the world's first commercial 5G modem chipset solution in October last year.

Announced at the 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong, the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem, designed to enable field trials and early deployments of 5G networks globally with download speeds of around 5Gbps, supports operation in the mmWave spectrum in the 28GHz band, with 800MHz bandwidth support, and employs MIMO with adaptive beam-forming and beam-tracking technology.

The solution includes the modem, SDR051 mmWave transceivers, and PMX50 power management chip.

The modem can be used for 4G and 5G mobile broadband, along with fixed-wireless broadband devices, when paired with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and its gigabit-speed 4G modem.

"The Snapdragon X50 5G modem heralds the arrival of 5G as operators and OEMs reach the cellular network and device testing phase," Cristiano Amon, executive vice president of Qualcomm Technologies, said at the time.

"Utilising our long history of LTE and Wi-Fi leadership, we are thrilled to deliver a product that will help play a critical role in bringing 5G devices and networks to reality. This shows that we're not just talking about 5G, we're truly committed to it."

Sampling for Qualcomm's Snapdragon X50 5G modem is slated to take place in the second half of 2017, with the first commercial products integrated with the modem expected in the first half of 2018.

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