If history is an indicator, we know that as complexity and performance requirements in mobile devices increase, system-level integration is what forges the path forward. As a key player in mobile, Qualcomm Technologies has been a leader in this type of integration. With the industry’s evolution from 3G to 4G to 4G+ (LTE Advanced), and 5G expected soon, the complexity of mobile devices — in terms of number of bands and band configurations — has exploded. With advanced features such as 5x carrier aggregation and 4x4 MIMO, new global mobile devices will have to tackle over 1,000 LTE band configurations.
Fortunately, when complexity grows, our engineers and managers at Qualcomm Technologies smile, and dig in.
The staggering growth in number of bands and band combinations, expanding range of frequencies and air interfaces, and ever-sleeker design has a dramatic impact not only on design complexity, but also on the amount of RF front-end (RFFE) content in a mobile device. Case in point: we expect the number of frequency filters in a premium smartphone to double in the next four to five years.
In order to build tomorrow’s mobile platforms, Qualcomm Technologies has invested in extending its RFFE capabilities to develop, manufacture, package, assemble and test products to deliver cutting-edge RF filters, integrated modules and solutions at a global scale. This includes power amplifiers, BAW, SAW, TC-SAW filters and filter modules, high performance switches, multiplexers, power trackers, antenna tuners and LNAs, and advanced module capabilities to tie it all together. As a result, we pride ourselves in being the first technology provider to produce all the components needed to deliver a comprehensive commercial mobile platform to its OEM manufacturers.
Furthermore, to help ensure that mobile design, as a system, continues to push the boundary on functionality and performance, Qualcomm Technologies has focused on tapping the modem’s intelligence to extend this system-level thinking and integration approach to include the RFFE. Groundbreaking technologies like adaptive antenna tuning and envelope tracking validate the merits of this system-level view, and have redefined the value proposition for OEMs, operators, and consumers.
Qualcomm Technologies has invested in a four-pronged approach that is designed to allow our OEM customers to implement the latest advanced features at scale and on time:
- Produce a comprehensive set of core RFFE technologies and components, including filters
- Use module development capabilities to build highly integrated solutions
- Develop innovative system-level solutions that take advantage of modem intelligence
- Build a full modem-to-antenna platform that includes the digital modem, RF transceiver, power management, and all RFFE components
Consistent with this approach is the latest set of RFFE product announcements we recently made: A modular, ET-optimized, multimode front-end solution that comprises of the gallium-arsenide based QPA5460/61 multiband power amplifier (MMPA), an attached front-end module with integrated quadplexer (D5328), BAW filter and diversity receive module (D5285). This demonstrates how we have brought together a vast set of technologies MMPAs, SAW, TC-SAW and BAW filters, high performance RF switches and modem-assisted envelope tracker, and module integration capabilities that is designed to build an easy-to-use mobile platform that supports advanced features such as Gigabit LTE, 4x4 MIMO, 256-QAM downlink and 64-QAM uplink.
As our world and our things get more connected, we at Qualcomm Technologies believe that it is critical to build comprehensive mobile solutions that easy for OEMs to design-in. To align with this paradigm, we continue to take on the critical complexity challenges involved in full-system integration so that our customers can focus on building fast and sleek mobile devices that work in more places than ever before.