Intel officially announces the XMM 8160 multi-mode 5G modem
We reported last year that Intel's 5G modem has completed end-to-end testing and that Apple could very well lap it up for their future iPhones. Now, Intel has officially launched the XMM 8160 5G modem close to half a year earlier than the scheduled date. The Intel XMM 8160 is a multi-mode baseband modem that offers support for all existing radio standards on a single chipset.
Intel says that the XMM 8160 brings supports 5G NR standalone and non-standalone modes at peak speeds of up to 6 Gbps. Along with 5G sNR support, legacy radios such as 4G, 3G, and 2G are alsp supported on the same chipset. This is significant as it allows simultaneous connectivity for both LTE and 5G, which allows for fallback in areas where 5G is not available. The competing Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem, on the other hand, works only in 5G mode and requires a dedicated QTM052 antenna module for mmWave reception. OEMs implementing the Snapdragon X50 need to use a separate modem for LTE connectivity. The Intel XMM 8160 supports both mmWave and sub-6 GHz 5G NR and is designed to scale across OEMs and platforms globally.
While Intel's solution clearly offers a smaller footprint and improved scalability than Qualcomm's offering, it remains to be seen how the modem actually performs in real-life. Recently, Qualcomm published data that showed its Snapdragon X20 modems performing more reliably than Intel's XMM offerings found in iPhones especially, in areas with spotty coverage.
The XMM 8160 will ship to OEMs in the second half of 2019 with commercial devices such as phones, notebooks, and broadband access gateways featuring this modem expected to be available in H1 2020. With Qualcomm and Apple not in a mood to reconcile any time soon, expect all iPhones in 2020 and beyond to feature Intel's modem offerings.