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Qualcomm Announces 801 Processor and LTE Cat 6

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Snapdragon 801 powers the Galaxy S5

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 200, 400, 600, and 800 processors – whoa! Next step is 1,000, right? Well actually, Qualcomm has released a new processor called the Snapdragon 801, opting for the most modest of numerical increases.

There’s a reason for the incremental name change – the 801 isn’t a total redesign, and has a lot in common with the 800 processor. Software and pin compatibility remains the same, but its capacity for image processing has been stepped up to take advantage of the increasingly powerful sensors beings stuffed into smartphones. Graphics and gaming will receive a boost, SD card memory speed will be upped (also great for more advanced cameras), and it’ll support dual-SIM/dual active service in China.

The 801, like the 800, is a system-on-chip. Inside is the same quad-core Krait 400 CPU and Adreno 330 GPU as the 800, although both have gotten performance upgrades. 4G LTE Cat 4 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi support remains unchanged.

So, true to the name, it’s an incremental upgrade, but a significant one nonetheless. And, since there are no huge changes in store, it’s coming to devices quickly – many smartphones announced at Mobile World Congress this year are powered by the Snapdragon 801 SoC, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, and many of those will be on shelves during the first half of this year.

But Mobile World Congress isn’t just about the mobile tech to come this year – companies love to show off what the distant future holds, too. Take Qualcomm who, along with Samsung and, SK Telecom, and KT, demonstrated the ultra-fast capabilities of LTE Advanced Category 6.

Currently, Qualcomm’s commercial processors, the Snapdragon 800 and the brand-new Snapdragon 801, support LTE Cat 4. At Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm showed what LTE Cat 6 could do, using the not-ready-for-prime-time Qualcomm 805 processor along with a modified Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and a Qualcomm Gobi 9×35 modem, a multi-mode 3G/LTE modem and the first of its kind that runs on 20nm technology.

The results? Download speeds as fast as 300 Mbps. That’s incredibly fast for mobile, and while it’s not ready for commercial use yet, it’s getting there pretty rapidly. It’s hard to say when we’ll see devices packing this kind of technology, but it sounds like around this time next year, you might be reading about LTE Cat 6 again. At that time, release dates might be part of the news.