New Qualcomm Mobile Device Modem Chipsets Open Door To 4G LTE iPhone 5

On Wednesday communications silicon maker Qualcomm announced availability of Gobi 4000, the company’s latest addition to its Gobi family of embedded data connectivity platforms that could be the heretofore missing enablers of iPhones with 4G LTE support.

Based on Qualcomm’s multimode 3G/4G wireless modems, the MDM9600 and MDM9200, share a common software interface (Gobi API) for connection management development. The Gobi 4000 platform allows Qualcomm’s customers like Apple, which has standardized on Qualcomm communications chippery for the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and iPad 2, to offer both LTE/HSPA+ and LTE/EV-DO designs to meet the growing worldwide demand for embedded 3G/4G connectivity in mobile devices.

“Embedded modules based on our new Gobi 4000 technology are designed to give consumers an uncompromised mobile connectivity experience, both in terms of download speeds and flexibility,” says Qualcomm CDMA Technologies senior vice president of product management Cristiano Amon. “To make Gobi 4000 available to as many consumers as possible, Qualcomm has worked hard to ensure that OEMs can use the platform on many commonly used personal computing, tablet and e-reader operating systems.”

Compatible with CDMA2000, 1xEV-DO Rev. A, and B, HSPA+, dual-carrier HSPA+, and LTE connectivity standards, and supporting integrated backwards compatibility to HSPA and EV-DO, Qualcomm’s Gobi 4000 platform also includes software enhancements for select MDM (mobile device modem) chipsets that enable a common software interface to help connect, locate and manage 3G/4G devices regardless of wireless interface and operating system. This interface will help streamline product development efforts, spur application development among third-party software developers, and deliver greater flexibility to device manufacturers.

System designers like Apple will appreciate Qualcomm’s diverse chipset and software product portfolio spanning multiple device classes, and will now have the flexibility to choose an embedded Gobi 4000 platform to give their devices high-speed 4G LTE support as well as an embedded Gobi 3000 platform for worldwide 3G connectivity on a single chip, presumably with the enhanced power efficiency, the lack of which has heretofore been an impediment to Apple’s offering 4G support on the iPhone.

Last February, then acting Apple CEO Tim Cook commented that offering LTE support on the iPhone “would force design compromises we’re not willing to make.” However, the new MDM9x00 series chips supporting both 4G LTE and 3G with enhanced power efficiency should open the door to Apple being able to include LTE support in the iPhone 5 (and the iPad 3 as well if they so choose). Qualcomm’s projected release date for the MDM9615 chip is reportedly sometime in Q1 2012, which would be nice timing for Apple to be able to incorporate it in a World Wide Developer’s Conference iPhone 5 release next June.


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