what is Qualcomm’s new communication technology integrated into the SoC

Today, Qualcomm, one of the largest suppliers of communication chips to the electronics market, together with the Vodafone operator and the Thales industrial group

demonstrated in work

a new SIM standard called iSIM.

According to the authors of the project, this standard is a new stage in the evolution of SIM. The previous one was the eSIM technology, which made it possible to access the communication services of operators without installing a SIM card. But eSIM still required a separate communication module, but iSIM is built right into the SoC. Previously, the company talked about iSIM, but very briefly, but now a working device based on this technology is shown, revealing the features of the novelty.

Technology Details

So far, iSIM is still being finalized, but a prototype of a mobile processor with an integrated communication module has already been manufactured and demonstrated. We are not talking about some exotic chips, but about the flagship of 2021 from Qualcomm – the Snapdragon 888 5G processor. There is also a more modern chip manufactured by the same company, which was called Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, but the authors of the project decided to test iSIM with an 888 processor.

Qualcomm’s partners in this project are mobile operator Vodafone and Thales, a manufacturer of information systems for the aerospace, maritime and military industries.

During the demonstration, the authors of the projects used a smartphone with a folding screen Galaxy Z Flip3 5G – apparently for entertainment.

Since the technology is still being finalized, the authors of the project did not talk about the date when iSIM appeared in general use. It was only briefly mentioned that, perhaps, the technology will enter the market as early as 2020. In addition, nothing was said about which devices can receive this technology. Smartphones, tablets or laptops – it is possible that all types of devices will be compatible with modified chips, but it may well be that smartphones will become the first category of devices with iSIM.

New communication technologies is a very interesting topic, but we have other articles, check it out – we talk about:

Little “raspberries” in a large data center
→ Apple’s new SoCs – M1 Pro and M1 Max
→ Creating your own server enclosure


iSIM has

three main

positive points:

No need to add a separate communication module and “piping”, including the SIM tray. Those phones that exclusively support eSIM do not have it, but in this case a separate communication module and a “strapping” to it are still present. But the technology developed by iSIM has none of this. Accordingly, the vacated space, which is always not enough on the board, can be used to place additional camera components, other modules, or an increased capacity battery.

eSIM compatible. In other words, telecom operators do not need to change the procedure for registering mobile numbers. You can still use the same QR code to link the number to a specific device. It’s simple and works without problems in most cases. Since mobile operators will not have to change much, they are likely to take the initiative and start adapting the technology. The example of the same Vodafone is likely to serve as an additional incentive for communication companies from various countries. The same Motorola Razr 2019, which uses only an eSIM module, can be re-released with a new processor.

Ability to add communication modules not only to mobile phonesbut also laptops or tablets. In some models, a separate SIM module is already built in, but this complicates the design of the device. And if the communication module is built into the SoC, it will be possible to connect devices of any category to the mobile network, where new types of processors can be installed.

A few more positives

Difficulties with adding, for example, laptops, should not be. The fact is that Microsoft has added extended support for Qualcomm ARM processors to the new version of its operating system. Moreover, Qualcomm itself introduced a chip for portable Windows PCs at the end of 2021. This is the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, made using the 5nm process technology.

Then the processors were “clean”, that is, without the iSIM communication module. But now nothing prevents him from adding it there. According to the representatives of the project, the technology allows to expand the capabilities of a wide range of devices, from laptops and mobile phones to IoT devices and virtual reality glasses. Moreover, cars can now also be delivered with iSIM, which will allow owners to always be in touch if necessary.

Well, an additional plus is that iSIM is compatible with 5G, so users will have access to high-speed Internet channels from any device, even an iron, provided, of course, that a new processor is installed there. Moreover, the device can have several accounts with different numbers at once, if such an opportunity is needed.

Unfortunately, during the demonstration, the company did not say anything about how much new chips with built-in SIMs could cost. In addition, with the current shortage of chips, it is not clear how much the release of a new technology to the market can be delayed.

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