At the Qualcomm 5G Summit, Qualcomm revealed the extensive impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the performance of its latest Snapdragon X70 modem.
The modem was announced earlier this year and the built-in AI processing unit was no secret, but its effectiveness was previously unknown.
Qualcomm claims its built-in AI extends mmWave’s effective range by 20% and increases throughput at the edge of cell coverage by 28% to 73% (depending on conditions).
These numbers are a pretty extraordinary example of how AI can improve results for all kinds of “signal” problems. We’ve already seen AI-based technology applied to ray tracing denoising or other forms of image processing with great success.
The same can be achieved with radio signal processing, where the modem can learn to interpret real radio signals under various difficult conditions. For example, a tree could interfere, or the radio wave bounced off a wall or passed through a material. AI helps the modem figure out what the original signal was.
It’s tantamount to having a Qualcomm engineer tune modem settings in every possible location, except it’s done automatically and continuously by the AI. Really innovative.
Qualcomm also says its modem is smart enough to infer what the signal should look like in the near future. This could enable better connectivity for moving vehicles, for example.
Although both 4G and 5G will benefit from these improvements, it looks like 5G mmWave (the fastest 5G) should help the most as it is the most challenging form of 5G in terms of coverage. mmWave ideally requires line of sight to the base station, and their signal can quickly degrade if it collides with anything along the way.
The additional power of AI is even more relevant for “standalone mmWave” (without 4G or 5G Sub-6 support). Standalone mmWave could be crucial for connecting homes to a nearby fiber optic network at very high speeds without laying cables or digging trenches.
In summary, this is very exciting, and we can expect Qualcomm to refine its AI neural networks as more data becomes available and modems fit into larger and larger networks.
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