Intel says the chip will allow speeds of up to 6Gbps— three to six times faster than today’s newest LTE modems. It will support the new standard for 5G New Radio (NR), including standalone and non-standalone modes, as well as 4G, 3G and 2G legacy radios in a single chipset. As two separate modems aren’t required for both 5G and legacy connectivity, manufacturers can create smaller, more power-efficient devices.
“By advancing directly to a multimode solution, Intel will offer very clear improvements in power, size and scalability. Intel’s integrated multimode solution supports simultaneous connectivity (EN-DC) for LTE and 5G – critical as 5G mobile network devices must be backward compatible to 4G if 5G is not available at any moment or at any location,” said the company.
The XMM 8160 also supports new millimeter wave bands as well as sub 6 GHz 5G NR support, including FDD and TDD bands from 600 MHz to 6 GHz.
While the chip’s timetable has been brought forward, we’re still not going to see “phones, PCs, and broadband access devices” fitted with the XMM 8160 until the first half of 2020.
Intel's decision to change the launch date of its chip could partly be due to Qualcomm and its 5G endeavors. As noted by The Verge, at least 18 major companies — including Samsung, Nokia / HMD, Sony, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, HTC, LG, Asus, ZTE, Sharp, Fujitsu, and OnePlus — are working with Qualcomm and its Snapdragon X50 5G NR modems.
As per a previous report, it seems one company that will be using the XMM 8160 is Apple. Cupertino’s 2020 iPhone range will reportedly be using Intel’s 5G modem exclusively.