Intel has finally launched their first LTE modem since the acquisition of Infineon’s modem team. The XMM 7160 is Intel’s attempt to give the sole LTE modem supplier of Apple and many others some real competition. They’ve been hard at work trying to deliver newer and more desirable modems and even recently opened up an office in San Diego just so that they could poach Qualcomm modem engineers more easily.
The XMM 7160 is actually an incredibly functional and capable part with support for up to 15 different bands of LTE and the ability to support both Glonass and GPS. It also allows for both voice and data, which means that this chip is capable of VoLTE, an important requirement to have high quality voice calls. While we do not know exactly what bands Intel’s new chip will support, we are sure that they will be primarily focusing on the US and European LTE bands even though they are claiming that this chip is a global LTE modem.
Intel’s own design win for this, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1" is actually a piggyback design win since they already won the SoC design win from Samsung on the Wi-Fi version. So, if you really bleed blue or really want an all Intel solution the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 LTE will be the tablet for you. We would love to get our hands on one of these tablets just to see how the modem performs as well as how well it supports all of the stated bands. However, we don’t expect that Intel’s front-end will be capable of delivering all 15 LTE bands at once in one device.
While we don’t have much by ways of specs, we do know that this device will support quad-band EDGE and penta-band HSPA+ in addition to multi-band LTE. It will also support Cat 4 LTE, which means that under perfect conditions the modem is capable of a downlink speed of up to 150 Mbps, comparable to what Qualcomm has to offer right now. This means that Intel is going to hopefully give Qualcomm some competition and make the modem business a more competitive and affordable one. Because right now, I think the mobile industry really needs another 4G LTE modem vendor to spark innovation and lower prices for OEMs.
I have a feeling, however, that Qualcomm will announce something relatively soon and could deem this announcement much less relevant than it seems today.