MediaTek unveils 5G modem to support mmWave

03 February 2021

MediaTek has introduced a new 5G modem that combines millimeter wave (mmWave) and sub-6 GHz 5G technologies in the same chip.

When MediaTek earlier this year unveiled two new 5G smartphone chipsets, there was concern over MediaTek’s current chipset, the M70, not supporting mmWave technologies — potentially leaving the company in a trailing position compared to Qualcomm, which is seen as the main competitor.

With the release of the M80 chipset, smartphone makers will have a choice between what technology they use for future builds. While mmWave technology is not as prevalent in 5G deployments today, it is gaining in popularity and will likely be the majority of deployments in the coming years as it runs on the higher spectrum bands, allowing for faster downloads, higher bandwidth and lower latency compared with sub-6 GHz 5G.

The M80 5G modem supports both non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) architectures with a peak rate of 7.67 Gbps in the downlink and 3.76 Gbps in the uplink. The modem supports dual 5G SIM, dual 5S NSA and SA networks and dual voice over new radio (VoNR) connectivity.

“As 5G rollouts accelerate, mmWave is becoming increasingly important, especially in the U.S. MediaTek’s new 5G modem integrates support for both sub-6 GHz and mmWave networks to address this opportunity and give device makers more flexibility,” said JC Hsu, corporate VP and GM of MediaTek's Wireless Communications Business Unit.

MediaTek said the modem could be used beyond just smartphones and could be integrated into PCs, MiFi hotspots, broadband customer premise equipment (CPE), industrial IoT applications and more.

The M80 includes MediaTek’s UltraSave technologies to improve power savings for single-chip designs as well as the UltraSave network environment detection and UltraSave OTAS content awareness technologies to adjust power configurations and operating frequencies based on the network.

The recently released Dimensity 1200 and Dimensity 1100 chipsets already have a few smartphone makers pledging to develop new devices including Chinese vendors Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Realme. These devices are expected to begin shipping by the end of the first quarter or early second quarter. Because the M80 is not expected to begin sampling until later this year, it is unlikely these new phones will include mmWave. However, it opens the door for future projects to include the technology.

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