Balong 5000

After disassembling six early 5G smartphones, IHS Markit concluded in a report that Huawei’s 5G solution was rushed, “surprisingly large”, “far from ideal,” and “highlighting the challenges of early 5G technology”.

The report suggests that the Huawei Balong 5000 5G modem chip, inside the Mate 20 X 5G, doubles down on modems, with a 4G/3G/2G modem inside the Kirin 980 chip, and a 5G counterpart in the Balong modem. This, as noted by IHS, increases costs, battery consumption, “and PCB footprint”.

The report also notes that the Huawei modem die size is 50% larger than Qualcomm’s first-generation X50 modem, and requires 3GB of supporting memory just for the modem itself. IHS noted that the die size of Samsung’s Exynos 5100 modem was “almost exactly the same as the X50”.

IHS noted that Huawei’s reliance on one 5G/4G/3G/2G modem rather than two separate 5G and 4G/3G/2G modems is the way forward, as it enables convergence of both the modem and related parts such as radio-tuning RF front ends and radio antennas — VentureBeat

In conclusion, IHS believes that the integration of 5G/4G/3G/2G multimode modems inside smartphone SoC processors will likely happen next year, in 2020, eliminating the need for a separate modem to work alongside the main processor, reducing costs as well as space required by the two chips.

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