LTE & 5G Chipsets September 2020

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LTE, 5G and 3GPP IoT Chipsets: Status update.

LTE & 5G Chipsets September 2020

GSA continuously tracks the mobile industry and reports on adoption of 3GPP standardised technologies and the expansion of the mobile ecosystem. This report complements the broader Status of the LTE Ecosystem reports based on the GSA GAMBoD devices database (which covers modules as well as end-user devices of multiple types).

The focus of this report is discrete cellular modem chipsets, as well as mobile processors, SoCs and platforms (only those containing modems) used in devices with LTE (and 5G) connectivity, as well as chipsets designed for devices using 3GPP-defined IoT technologies.
Note that we do not collate information on separate baseband processors, DSP chips or separate RF front-end transceivers, nor silicon designed primarily for base stations used as network infrastructure. However, we do include chipsets designed for enterprise and residential small cells and FWA applications, as these can be considered devices (femtocells are included in the GAMBoD database). Nor do we track reference designs for complete platforms or discrete components where the vendor is not involved beyond creation of IP for licensing.
5G silicon status

There is an increasing choice of chipsets for 5G devices, with products commercially available from Hi-Silicon (Huawei), Mediatek, Qualcomm, Samsung and UNISOC (formerly Spreadtrum).

All five players have been expanding their product ranges.

By September 2020, GSA had identified 20 commercially available 5G mobile processors/platforms and eight commercially available discrete 5G modems from the five semi-conductor companies mentioned above. In addition, GSA had identified two pre-commercial 5G modems. The maximum peak theoretical speed claimed to be offered by any of the commercial discrete 5G modems currently reaches 7.5 Gbps DL and 3.67 Gbps UL.

A full list of commercially available and pre-commercial 5G mobile processors/platforms and discrete 5G modems is available in GSA’s GAMBoD database, updated in September 2020.

A clear market trend has been the recent rise in the number of mobile processors/platforms, using the available 5G modems.

Discrete LTE cellular modems

Excluding 5G-capable chipsets, GSA has counted 19 commercially available discrete cellular LTE modem chipsets from five vendors: Hi-Silicon, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sanechips (formerly ZTE Microelectronics) and UNISOC. This number has not changed since our previous issue of this report. Other modems are produced but these are integrated with other processors in mobile platforms.
In terms of downlink speeds, the fastest current LTE modem chipsets are:
·      Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X20 and X24 modems (DL category 18 and 20 respectively; 1.2 Gbps and 2 Gbps respectively with five- and seven-channel carrier aggregation respectively and 256QAM on the downlink).
·      Hi-Silicon’s Balong 765 (DL category 19; 1.6 Gbps, with four-channel carrier aggregation, 256QAM DL modulation and 8×8 MIMO on the DL).

Other modems are also powering fast mobile platforms such as the Samsung Exynos 9 Series (9820)and Hi-Silicon’s Kirin 980 which support downlink speeds of 2 Gbps and 1.4 Gbps respectively. Six other mobile platforms (from Hi-Silicon, Qualcomm and Samsung) all support DL speeds of 1 to 1.2 Gbps.

LTE mobile processors/platforms

Commercially launched LTE mobile processors/platforms comprise the largest category of chipsets in the GSA database; we have counted 159 (other than those specifically designed for IoT applications and excluding those capable of 5G) from 12 vendors: Altair Semi-conductor, GCT, Hi-Silicon, Innofidei, Leadcore, MediaTek, Qualcomm, Renesas Mobile, Samsung, Sequans, UNISOC and Xiaomi.
A number of other mobile processors/platforms from GCT, Hi-Silicon, MediaTek, Qualcomm and UNISOC are still at the pre-commercial stage and not included in our analysis.

Our total of commercial LTE mobile processors/platforms includes some market-specific variants (such as chipsets designed to meet automotive industry standards), but regional/band-specific variants are not systematically captured in the database.

VoLTE, eMBMS and unlicensed spectrum support

GSA is tracking the ecosystem for specific LTE features. Figure 3 shows the number of commercially available mobile processors/platforms and discrete cellular modems, supporting VoLTE and eMBMS (LTE Broadcast/Multicast).

LTE & 5G Chipsets September 2020

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LTE & 5G Chipsets September 2020