Intel is no stranger when it comes to upcoming 5G network transformation, devices and modems that will run on them and the data centers that crunch all the data. In fact, Intel is one only company that can tout an ‘end-to-end’ 5G strategy that encompasses virtually every crucial part of the 5G ecosystem. That’s why you hear Intel talking so much about the promise and potential about 5G. Intel has been driving 5G very hard this year with numerous announcements throughout the course of the year starting at CES with the announcement of their first 5G modem and the continued updates to their RF and modem holdings. LTE is still very relevant and will be for the foreseeable future especially as it helps fill the expected coverage gaps of early 5G networks. Intel also talked this year about their 4G LTE modems and new models like the XMM 7560 that will finally bring CDMA support among other features. Lest we forget that Intel is in around half of Apple’s iPhones, a big win.
New 8060 5G modem
Intel has not been resting on their laurels with the announcements they’ve made this year. The company is continuing to progress when it comes to 4G and 5G connectivity with a slew of announcements today that reaffirm the company’s commitment to 5G. While many of these products are expected in 2018 and 2019, the company has committed to them with aggressive timelines that seem to be competitive with the prime players. The first product Intel is announcing is their new XMM 8060 modem which is part of the company’s first 5G family of modems.
The XMM 8000 series is Intel’s upcoming 5G commercial modem family which incorporates the XMM 8060. This hierarchy makes sense because the company’s 4G LTE modems are in the 7000 series. This modem is capable of multi-mode capability which includes both supporting Standalone (SA) 5G NR and non-Standalone (NSA) 5G NR. Additionally, it supports 5G NR, 4G, 3G and 2G and yes, that includes CDMA as well. It also supports both sub-6GHz and mmWave spectrum, which means that a single modem can operate both types of radio and RF front-end. Intel says this modem will be commercially available in customer devices shipping in mid-2019. This would align with the expectation of early 5G NR network deployments in 2019 and would mean that Intel should be ready for those launches. The big shocker Intel says that the XMM 8060 will be utilized in all form factors including smartphones, but won’t comment on any performance or power numbers.
In addition to their commercial XMM 8060, Intel is also making progress with their early 5G silicon codenamed Gold Ridge that was originally announced at the beginning of this year. Intel has been testing the silicon over the last few months, meaning that they already have working silicon of this earlier modem design. One of the things that Intel was able to accomplish with the Gold Ridge modem was to successfully make 5G calls over 28 GHz spectrum. This will be crucial for anyone wanting to deploy 5G in the next few years as many global deployments of 5G in the mmWave spectrum are going to be in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands.