Qualcomm Announces MDM9x25, MDM8225 support 3GPP Rel.10, advanced Carrier Aggregationby Brian Klug on February 27, 2012 2:00 AM EST
Paying attention to basebands is something that really has become one of our niches. So much of a smartphone's design is entirely rooted in requirements around what air interfaces it has to operate with, and there's always a delicate balancing act between the OEMs, carriers, and silicon vendors all wanting different things. If you can predict the constrains, you can largely predict the choices, and out fall the handsets themselves.
At last year's MWC, Qualcomm announced MDM9x25, the spiritual successor to MDM9x00, which we've seen in a huge number of 4G LTE devices - everything from data cards to hotspots to smartphones. Whereas MDM9x00 was a 45nm design, MDM9x25 is a 28nm design just like MDM9x15, and includes support for just about every air interface out there - CDMA2000 1x/EVDO, GSM/EDGE, TD-SCDMA, UMTS (HSPA+, DC-HSPA+), and LTE-Advanced. What it builds on from MDM9x15 is both increasing the UE Category from 3 to 4 -which connotes a corresponding boost in maximum downlink bandwidth from 100 Mbps to 150 Mbps on 20 MHz FDD, inclusion of MIMO and DC HSPA+ (two things that were previously mutually exclusive in earlier 3GPP releases) - and also being targeted at a more traditional data card or wireless hotspot application. MDM9x15 is still largely targeted for deployment on handsets running on carriers who are pushing currently for DC-HSPA+ and LTE Category 3 (both TDD and FDD).
Today, what Qualcomm is announcing are some more details about MDM9625/MDM9225 and also MDM8225. The news is simple - all three parts support 3GPP Release 10, and the carrier aggregation techniques within, including asymmetric aggregation for unpaired spectrum, and inheritance of the multi-band carrier aggregation from Release 9. You might wonder why those particular three parts would be singled out, but the reasons are simple. First, 3GPP Releases define both HSPA+ and LTE features since Release 8. Second, the two tiers remain analogous the same way MDM9x15 is analogous with MDM8215, and I would wager MDM9x00 was with MDM8220.
There are some other interesting other details I've learned about MDM9x25 as well. This will be the first part I'm aware of that will come with GNSS support for GPS, GLONASS, and Compass - the Chinese satellite navigation system. MDM9x25 will work with Qualcomm's WTR1605 transceiver and PM8019 power management IC.
The final addendum is confirmation of something I noticed while doing the Verizon 4G LTE wireless hotspot reviews. Back then, I noted that there there was no application processor for routing and network on those devices. Instead, they seemed to use the baseband for those functions entirely. MDM9x25 and MDM8225 will continue this trend by including an integrated AP tailored for these routing functions, and possibly in conjunction with a Qualcomm Atheros AR6003 or AR6004 WLAN and BT combo chip.