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    Thursday, March 3, 2022

    Qualcomm Announces new Chip with Wi-Fi 7 Capability, Bluetooth Enhancements

    Qualcomm has unleashed a torrent of product updates that will directly and indirectly affect the components in the phones, tablets, earbuds, wearables, and connected PCs over the next year. While MWC 2022 may have flashier announcements, Qualcomm's may end up having the most impact on the devices you will one day buy.

    As the wireless communications company named an expected release date of its new FastConnect 7800 connectivity system, which will support Wi-Fi 7 High Band Simultaneous Multi-Link and next-gen Dual Bluetooth capabilities.

    The new technology is the world’s first announced Wi-Fi 7 enabled product on the market, and is expected to be available for purchase by the second half of 2022.

    This signals a move towards Wi-Fi 7 as the future of wireless communication, which may not be fully supported across most devices until 2024. The branch for Qualcomm into the Wi-Fi 7 sector signals the next step towards the Metaverse becoming an commonplace application.

    “With FastConnect 7800, Qualcomm Technologies reasserts its leadership by defining the future of wireless connectivity. Introducing the first Wi-Fi 7 solution to the industry might be enough for some, but with the introduction of HBS Multi-Link we take performance to the next level, shattering expectations for speed and latency,” said Dino Bekis, vice president and general manager of Mobile Compute and Connectivity at Qualcomm Technologies.

    “Coupled with up to 50% lower power consumption and Intelligent Dual Bluetooth with advanced Snapdragon Sound capabilities, FastConnect 7800 is simply the best client connectivity offering in the industry.”

    Increased speeds, wider range

    The FastConnect 7800 platform also introduces Qualcomm’s High Band Simultaneous (HBS) Multi-Link technology, allowing growth for the potential of “multiple 5GHz and 6GHz connections to deliver the highest throughput and lowest sustained latency, while reserving high-traffic 2.4GHz spectrum for Bluetooth and lower-bandwidth Wi-Fi,” according to the company.

    The Wi-Fi 7 integration is expected to leverage two Wi-Fi radios for four streams of high-band connectivity in 5GHz and 6GHz bands. This extension into higher bands is anticipated to support Qualcomm’s Dual Bluetooth and Snapdragon Sound technologies to assist with decreased power consumption and lower latency times.

    The 4-band HBS builds on Qualcomm’s 4-stream Dual-Band Simultaneous, allowing for low-latency performance between access point and client or independently for multi-client scenarios.

    A practical example provided by the company details a mobile device connecting to a Wi-Fi 6E access point and a XR headset at the same time, without dealing with low bandwidth or connection speeds.

    Enhanced Bluetooth capabilities

    In the audio arena, the Snapdragon Sound integrated with Dual Bluetooth delivers Bluetooth LE Audio and Bluetooth 5.3 with next-generation Intelligent Dual Bluetooth 16-bit 44.1khz CD Lossless Bluetooth audio quality and 24-bit 96kHz high resolution Bluetooth audio quality. Additionally, the Snapdragon Sound will exhibit 32kHz super wideband voice support for crystal clear calls.

    These audio enhancements will be provided by two radios for double the range and allowing for the syncing of multiple devices simultaneously in a fraction of the time. The reduction of synchronization time allows for users to move their connections from a smartphone to a PC or automobile instantly.

    In gaming mode, Qualcomm’s advancement is expected to deliver 68ms low latency audio for lag-free gaming and a voice channel for in-game chat for use in XR headsets.

    These improvements in speed and sound quality will utilize LE Audio for audio sharing and streaming purposes along with stereo recording for content creators, enabling streamers to post recorded content with stereo sound quality.

    Through FastConnect and Snapdragon Sound, these Bluetooth devices can also assist with streaming content through high-bandwidth audio and highly responsive connections to game controllers.

    These advancements in speed and connectivity allow for users to experience top-end performance in both gaming environments and everyday use.

    Snapdragon X70 and the meander towards 5G

    Unlike previous years, the Snapdragon X70 doesn't boast faster 5G speeds for next-generation phones but rather a new AI system that "can enhance 5G data speeds, coverage, latency, and power efficiency for 5G Sub-6 GHz and mmWave devices," according to the company's press release.

    That's a lot of jargon to say that Qualcomm is taking a year to optimize its 5G solution rather than try to push theoretical speed increases even further, offering a more robust combination of carrier aggregation solutions on the sub-6 side and new standalone millimeter-wave support on the high-band front.

    There are a lot of other small improvements, too, especially on the uplink side, once the first devices roll out with the X70 in early 2023 — and assuming carriers have caught up to supporting it on the network side — you may start seeing those upload speeds a little more in line with the faster download speeds that 2.5Ghz and C-Band 5G has begun offering T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T customers over the past few months. Plus it's built on a 4nm process like the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, and Qualcomm is promising a 60% improvement in power efficiency, which will hopefully help the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 lower the heat a little bit.

    This is a lot of words to write about a bunch of announcements that most phone customers will never even notice, but that's the point. Qualcomm is seeing increased competition from companies like MediaTek on the bundling side — it's even encroaching on the US and European markets with its new Dimensity 9000 SoC — and custom silicon plays from the likes of Google, Oppo, and Apple, which is expected to jettison Qualcomm's modem from the iPhone in the next year or two.

    Qualcomm's response to this pressure is to sweeten the pot for existing customers by throwing in the promise of increased customer fealty through these nascent certification programs.

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