Intel says will have commercial 5G modem in 2019

Intel trails 2019 5G device availability with announcement of 8060 modem series.

Intel has announced that it will have a commercial, multimode 5G NR modem available in mid-2019.

The 8060 series will be Intel’s first standards-compliant ASIC-based modem, baking into a commercialised product the capabilities it takes forward from work on its Gold Ridge test modem.

Gold Ridge (otherwise known as 5G Test Platform) combines an FPGA-based baseband with a protocol stack on i7 processors. It has been used to carry out both NGTF and 5G NR-based calls and data sessions, Intel said.

The 8060 modem (artist’s impression)

The Gold Ridge 5G Mobile Test Platform

Rival vendor Qualcomm has already announced an ASIC-based 5G modem design – its X50.

Launching the X50 in October, Cristiano Amon, President of the chipset business at Qualcomm, said, “Many of the aspects of hardware are consistent now and allow us to go forward. We will continue to see changes as the standard goes forward but at this point we are confident the X50 design will be R15-compliant to support Sub 6GHz and mmWave.

Intel said that its 8060 will support a range of form factors, plus sub6GHz and mmWave. And just as Qualcomm claimed that it had made the first 5G NR data call, Intel’s  5G lead Asha Keddy said that the 5G Test Platform (Gold Ridge) had also supported pre-standards 5G NR connections.

“We have two trial platforms – the NGTF and the 5G NR radio – and we are testing and developing 5G NR now,” she said. She pointed out that recent trials of connected cars with NTT DoCoMo had used the 5G NR-based test platform.

It’s worth noting that despite the different routes the companies are taking – the end destination of 2019 availability for commercial devices is the same. Intel appears to be keeping things slightly more fluid right now with the FPGA baseband in the test platform, whereas Qualcomm has gone for an early ASIC design.