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Intel's mobile future is in blazing modems as it buries Atom failure

Agam Shah | Feb. 22, 2017
Intel's announcing new modems, and cool new uses for 5G in autonomous cars and VR at Mobile World Congress next week

While smartphones will technically be able to achieve gigabit 4G download speeds, most cellular networks still don't operate at that speed. An exception is Telstra, which has launched a gigabit LTE network in Australia.

Intel could not say when the gigabit-class 4G modem would be in mobile devices. But the modem is ready, Evans said.

Intel will also show off some uses for 5G in autonomous cars and how it could make driving safe. BMW, together with Intel and Mobileye, is developing an autonomous car that should hit the road in 2021. The 5G car could be hooked into a grid for energy management, or a smart city infrastructure -- like a smart streetlight system -- for safer driving. A 5G car could draw data from a wider range of sources outside the regular cameras, lidar and radar in a car for better collision avoidance, maps and navigation data.

Many 5G technologies are being developed in partnership with companies like Ericsson, Nokia, and carriers like AT&T, Verizon, China Mobile, Vodafone, DoCoMo and Telefonica. Intel also announced a new initiative with Ericsson and Honeywell called 5GI2 to advance 5G testing and innovations.

Intel also announced a development kit called the 3rd Generation Mobile Trial Platform that enables faster 5G testing. The kit includes a board based on Stratix 10 FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays), and offers data transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps.

It supports a wide range of bands including 600 to 900Mhz, 4.4 to 4.9Ghz, 5.1 to 5.9Ghz and the high-speed 28Ghz and 39Ghz bands. Cellular networks typically operate in the sub-6Ghz band, but higher bands will enable 5G deployment trials. That board could be used by carriers or companies that want to try out 5G network applications.

It'll be many years before we can look at 5G in the same vein as 4G. But it's coming quickly, and one just need to look at the quick ascension of 4G to realize how quickly technologies can change.

For 5G, "we look at 4G ten years before it got to big success," Evans said.


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