5G-AI Marriage—Theme at 2022 Qualcomm 5G Summit
At its annual 5G Summit this week, Qualcomm unveils new solutions and milestones that show 5G and AI joining forces.
The 2022 Qualcomm 5G Summit kicked off yesterday in San Diego, CA. Although its name has changed over its 15-year run—3G Summit, 4G Summit—the annual event is what the company calls its “premier ecosystem event.”
This year’s event leans into the reality that 5G is becoming mainstream. Today, the company made a series of announcements, all within the theme of 5G and artificial intelligence (AI) empowering one another at the edge.
In this article, we summarize today’s announcements at the Qualcomm 5G Summit event.
X70 5G AI Device Adds Enhancements
First off, Qualcomm Technologies has announced new capabilities for its Snapdragon X70 5G AI processor modem-RF system. The new features add to the 5th gen 5G modem-to-antenna solution the company announced at the MWC Barcelona show in February.
The key enhancement to the X70 is Qualcomm’s Smart Transmit 3.0 technology, an upgraded system-level feature that now extends support to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth transmit power management. As a result, the technology now enables real-time averaging of transmit power across 2G–5G, mmWave, Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz 6/6E/7), and Bluetooth (2.4) radios. This includes all versions of Wi-Fi, even Wi-Fi 7.
Last week the company launched its own Wi-Fi 7 platform.
Smart Transmit 3.0 extends the real-time averaging capability to include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm
For the end-user, Smart Transmit 3.0 claims to help enable devices to intelligently manage transmit power, providing users with faster, more reliable wireless connections. Previous generations of Qualcomm’s Smart Transmit technology introduced optimized uplinks, time-averaging, and spatial averaging of power across multiple antennas. Version 3.0 goes a step further extending optimizing transmissions across cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth antennas.
First 5G Standalone mmWave Link
Qualcomm’s second announcement at today’s 5G Summit is what it claims is the world’s first 5G standalone mmWave connection, with peak speeds of more than 8 Gbps. The test was achieved at Qualcomm Technologies’ 5G Integration and Test Labs in San Diego using Keysight’s 5G Protocol R&D Toolset and a test 5G device based on the Snapdragon X70.
Qualcomm achieved what it claims is the first 5G standalone mmWave connection. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm
According to Qualcomm, the fact that the test occurred in 5G standalone mmWave opens the door for the deployment of 5G mmWave networks and devices without using an anchor on a sub-6 GHz spectrum. This means more flexibility for operators that are keen to provide wireless fiber broadband access with multi-Gigabit speeds and ultra-low latency to customers in both the residential and commercial markets.
At today’s 5G Summit event, the company is also showing demos of other Snapdragon X70 capabilities. These demos display AI-enhanced 5G performance and 5G sub-6 GHz carrier aggregation across three TDD (time division duplex) channels, achieving peak download speeds up to 6 Gbps. The company says the Snapdragon X70 is currently sampling for customers and mobile devices based on the Snapdragon X70 are expected to debut by late 2022.
Robotics Platform Blends AI and 5G
Rounding out its 5G-AI-themed announcements today at the 5G Summit, Qualcomm is unveiling two robotics development platforms—the Qualcomm Robotics RB6 Platform and the Qualcomm RB5 AMR reference design. The products are aimed at engineers developing a wide range of robotic systems, including autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), delivery robots, highly automated manufacturing robots, collaborative robots, urban airborne mobility (UAM) aircraft, industrial drone infrastructure, and autonomous defense units.
The Qualcomm Robotics RB6 platform continues the company’s roadmap of robotics development platforms, the most recent example being its drone-focused Qualcomm Flight RB5 product launched last summer. Like that system, the new RB6 marries 5G and AI, but it goes beyond with 5G connectivity that supports global sub-6 GHz and mmWave bands in a mainstream, enterprise, and private networks.
The Robotics RB6 platform has slots for expansion cards so support can be added for future 5G releases. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm
The RB6 platform has a flexible architecture with expansion cards. Those cards can be used to add support for 3GPP Release 15, and Releases 16, 17, and 18 features when those boards become available. Edge AI and video processing capabilities on the RB6 are available through its enhanced Qualcomm AI Engine, which is capable of 70 to 200 trillion operations per second (TOPS).
Aside from the hardware, the Qualcomm Robotics RB6 platform includes an integrated, premium AI software development kit (SDK): the Qualcomm Intelligent Multimedia SDK. The SDK blends “multimedia, AI and ML, computer vision, and networking building blocks to support the end-to-end deployment of robotic applications,” states Qualcomm.
For its part, the Qualcomm RB5 AMR reference design offers what the company calls “ tightly integrated enhanced AI and 5G-capabilities.” But few details on this product were available at the launch. The Qualcomm RB5 AMR reference design is available for pre-sale now through ModalAI and the Qualcomm Robotics RB6 development kit is available for sale through Thundercomm.