Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC has iSIM silicon to replace SIM cards and eSIM chips

What happened? Qualcomm has announced that its latest mobile platform is ready to integrate eSIM functionality directly into the SoC silicon. The integrated SIM (or iSIM) form factor is particularly attractive to device manufacturers, the company said, as a cost-cutting improvement for smartphones and other connected devices.

The classic SIM card-based standard is slowly being replaced by the newer eSIM technology, but mobile manufacturers and SoC designers are already working to go beyond that. Qualcomm’s recently announced Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform is the first GSMA certified iSIM-compatible device and the first “commercially deployable” SoC device with iSIM functionality integrated directly into the chip.

iSIM is another – and probably the last step in the evolution of connectivity technology for mobile users and devices. The eSIM (embedded-SIM) is designed to replace the small plastic card (and the integrated circuit inside) required for user identification by mobile service providers with a chip sold on the phone’s motherboard.

With iSIM technology, the aforementioned chip is not necessary because the duties of connecting the ID are handled directly by the SoC platform. Qualcomm highlighted how the new iSIM technology gives device makers “additional opportunities to save space and reduce manufacturing and supply chain costs,” while maintaining the same level of security that best in class.

The San Diego-based chip designer worked with French multinational company Thales Group to make the iSIM solution fully compliant with the GSMA Remote SIM Provisioning standard. Therefore, mobile carriers should be able to manage iSIM subscriptions in the same way they currently manage eSIM users.

The iSIM market is expected to grow to 300 million devices by 2027, Qualcomm said, with a 19 percent market share of all eSIM device shipments by then. While the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC provides integrated support for iSIM, phone manufacturers often still use discrete eSIM chips in their designs.

According to Guillaume Lafaix, vice president of embedded products at Thales Mobile, the world’s first GSMA security certification for the company’s 5G iSIM gives device makers and mobile carriers even more freedom to offer users “effortless connectivity over the air.”

iSIM technology increases the opportunity to “multiply cellular capabilities” in mobiles and other connected devices, GSMA chief technology officer Alex Sinclair said. Meanwhile, end-users and customers no longer have control over connection portability.

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