The first 5G-ready smartphones are already here. But so far they’ve all relied on multi-chip solutions: a mobile processor to power most smartphone functions, and a separate 5G modem.
Now chip makers are starting to make the first smartphone processors with built-in 5G capabilities.
Huawei’s Kirin 990 chip is expected to have integrated 5G support. And Samsung’s newly announced Exynos 980 does as well.
The new processor is an 8nm, octa-core chip with two ARM Cortex-A77 CPU cores and six lower-power Cortex-A55 CPU cores. It has Mali-G76 graphics and a neural processing unit that Samsung says offers up to a 2.7 percent boost in performance.
The processor supports cameras up to 108 megapixels, as well as 4K UHD video encoding and decoding at up to 120 frames per second. THere’s also support for HDR+ content.
But the most noteworthy thing about this new processor is probably the integrated 5G modem, which Samsung says should provide download speeds up to 2.5 Gbps on sub 6 GHz 5G networks… if you have access to one.
By integrating the modem into the processor, Samsung says it was able to reduce power consumption and reduce the physical space requirements.
The processor also featured integrated support for WiFi 6, also known as 802.11ax.
Given that this processor has just two high-performance CPU cores, it seems likely to be destined for next-gen Galaxy A series smartphones rather than the next Galaxy S or Galaxy Note. But with mass production set to begin by the end of 2019, we probably won’t know for certain until phones powered by the new chip start shipping sometime next year.