Chipmaker Qualcomm today revealed the latest version of its Snapdragon mobile chip for smartphones. In addition to a bump in performance, this new bit of silicon comes with a notable addition: support for 5G wireless technology. The new chip, the Snapdragon 855, will support multi-gigabit data speeds over the 5G networks that wireless carriers and governments are racing to install. It will also ship with an updated neural engine, for AI-related tasks, and improved gaming capabilities.
While a successor to last year’s Snapdragon 845 was expected at today’s event, the inclusion of 5G support in the 855 gives greater encouragement to the hopes of consumers vying to get their hands on 5G handsets in the first half of 2019. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform powers most high-end Android smartphones, including Samsung’s flagship phones. It’s widely expected that Samsung’s next Galaxy smartphone will include this chip when it’s announced in February, and so Galaxy owners with access to 5G networks will be able to take advantage of the blistering speeds promised by the next-gen wireless technology.
During the keynote for a three-day event taking place in an absolutely terrible location (sunny Maui, Hawaii), Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon said 5G would bring in a “new era of wireless communications” and be one of the “most significant transitions we’ll have” in technology in the coming years. While the rollout of 4G greatly impacted component makers, network operators, and technology companies, Amon said, with 5G “basically every other industry understands that this technology will modify their business.”