Qualcomm’s Next Snapdragon Is Not the 8150

Qualcomm CES 2018

I’m not 100 percent sure who started this “Snapdragon 8150” thing, but let me end it: Qualcomm is announcing the chipset that will go into all of the first major 5G phones next week, and it isn’t called the Snapdragon 8150.

The full details for Qualcomm’s new chipset will be announced at the company’s three-day annual event; this year it’s scheduled for Dec. 4-6. More than just a Qualcomm conference, it looks like this year’s Snapdragon Technology Summit will be a parade of 5G-related announcements from carriers, phone makers, and laptop manufacturers.

Last year, we saw the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and the first full Windows 10 laptops running on Snapdragon chips. This year, we expect to see all major US carriers and several smartphone makers pledging their allegiance to Qualcomm 5G.

Qualcomm will make the 5G modem we’re most likely to see on smartphones in the US in 2019. Huawei is developing its own, but it’s effectively banned from the US. Samsung has one, but it tends to use Qualcomm components in its US models. Mediatek will have a 5G modem later in 2019. Intel is working on one, which Apple is likely to use, but we probably won’t see that in phones until 2020.

I’ve already gotten a note from Motorola asking to meet at Qualcomm’s event. It says its Moto Z3 will have a 5G add-on next year with a Qualcomm modem in it. OnePlus and LG have said they’ll have 5G phones next year, and rumors about a 5G-capable Samsung Galaxy S10 are currently rife.

Three days of keynotes will be livestreamed at qualcomm.com/snapdragontechsummit at 2 p.m. ET on each of the three days. According to the company, they’ll be about “the path to commercialization of 5G in 2019,” the next Snapdragon, and Qualcomm-based, presumably Windows PCs.

About That Snapdragon 8150 Rumor

For what it’s worth, it looks like the “Snapdragon 8150” name started with the German site WinFuture.de in October, and has been spreading across the web since. It’s a mistake based on the internal name of sm8150, which XDA Developers correctly identified. But the internal name isn’t the marketing name.

So what is the new chip going to be called, and what will it do? I know it isn’t called the 8150. With the previous two flagships called the 835 and 845, this could be the 855, or Qualcomm could jump forward into an entire new naming sequence for 5G.

Changing its naming sequence entirely isn’t unheard of: Qualcomm switched from S1/S2/S3/S4 to 200/400/600/800 in 2013, and it might be time for a refresher. Its modems recently jumped from X24, for its latest 4G product, to X50, for its first 5G product.

I would also be super-skeptical of other rumors going around about the chip’s core layout. I’ll just leave that there. Rumors have been bouncing around about whether the chip will have three clusters of cores, or two main clusters and one overpowered core, or something else, and I’m pretty sure none of those people actually know.

One thing I’ll be looking out for is the level of integration between the new chip and Qualcomm’s 5G modem. Will there be a version that integrates 5G into the system-on-chip, or will 5G have to be an option? That could affect both device size and power consumption. I can’t wait for Qualcomm to explain this next week.

The company is also working on another chip specifically for Windows laptops with the internal codename of sm8180, which however will not be called the Snapdragon 8180. It just won’t.

So don’t listen to the rumors. Listen to me. We’ll be live at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon summit next week with all the real details.

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