Qualcomm unveils new chip to power 5G smartphones

Todd Singleton
December 6, 2018

Just like the last generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is an Octa-core chipset, manufactured using a 7nm FinFET process by TSMC (Taiwan Silicon Manufacturing Company) with three CPU clusters.

Right now, details on the chip are still pretty light. The person who is in the photo has pointed out this error. The Snapdragon 855 is the first chipset from Qualcomm with a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU), which will help in AI computations.

Because of Qualcomm's dominance in the mobile space, particularly in the United States, the Snapdragon 855 will appear in most major flagship phones in 2019. Qualcomm employees from nearly every division - Engineering, R&D, Standards, Hardware - contributed to developing the technologies that make 5G possible. Initially, 5G will be available for AT&T customers using the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot; it's the first standards-based mobile 5G device in the world that can access a live millimeter wave 5G network, according to AT&T.

Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon began his keynote by talking about the importance of 5G, its benefits, how it will enhance user experiences, and make a global impact. Any 5G-compatible phone maker would need to pair it with the company's X50 modem chip.

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You'd be forgiven for thinking it's a little premature to get excited about 5G when 4G is hardly ideal. We'll see 5G device launches and network rollouts across the U.S., Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and China, with deployments in sub-6 GHz and mmWave. Verizon's 5G network now exists in only a small handful of cities.

"When we get to exactly this time of year one year from now ... we will see every [handset maker] on the Android ecosystem, their flagship across all USA carriers will be a 5G device", Amon told CNET.

On Monday, Verizon and Samsung announced plans to launch one of the first commercial 5G smartphones in the first half of 2019, which will use chips from Qualcomm. However, the big questions is still, how many phones will have this 3D Sonic Sensor this time next year?

The new Snapdragon 855 also comes with the Qualcomm's fourth-generation, multi-core AI Engine, with the company claiming with up to 3 times the AI performance compared to the previous version. But as I said, Qualcomm will offer the chip sans-5G parts, so it's not as though you'll be buying a phone with a bunch of wasted technology inside. Well that was not an under-display sensor, but instead one that was put in the bottom bezel of the phone.

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