Five technologies for building 5G | EDN

5G is widely considered a mobile technology that won’t be available until perhaps 2020 or 2021, and even then, not widely. 
Cisco predicts that by 2021, a 5G connection will generate 4.7 times more traffic than the average 4G connection.

5G will be a quantum leap from today’s LTE-Advanced networks. 


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Designing 5G Chips

    The next-gen wireless technology is riddled with problems, but that hasn’t slowed the pace of development.

    One technology, multiple implementations
    Currently, the term ‘5G’ is being used in multiple different ways. In its most generic form, it is an evolution of cellular wireless technology that will allow new services to be managed over a standards-driven radio interface, explained Colin Alexander, director of wireless marketing for the infrastructure line of business at Arm. “Multiple existing and new spectra will be allocated to carry this traffic from sub-1GHz for longer range, sub-urban and wider coverage, through to mmWave traffic ranging from 26 through to 60GHz for new, high-capacity, low-latency use cases.”

    The Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance (NGMN) and other organizations devised a representation that mapped use cases onto the three points of a triangle—one corner represents enhanced mobile broadband, one represents Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and the third Massive Machine Type Communications. Each of these needs a very different type of network to service their needs.

    “This leads to the other requirement of 5G — defining the requirements of the core network,” Alexander said. “The core network will allow the ability to scale in order to efficiently carry all of these different traffic types.”

    Mobile network operators are trying to ensure they can upgrade and scale their networks as flexibly as possible, utilizing virtualized and containerized software implementations running on commodity compute hardware in the cloud, he noted.

    Where URLLC traffic types are concerned, it now may be possible to manage these applications from the cloud. But that requires some of the control and user functions to be moved much closer to the edge of the network, toward the radio interface. Consider smart robots in factories, for example, which for safety and efficiency reasons will require low-latency networks. That will require edge compute boxes—each with compute, storage, acceleration and machine-learning functions—to be pushed out to the cell edge, said Alexander, noting that some but not all V2X and automotive applications services will have similar requirements.

    “Where low latency is a requirement, processing again may be pushed to the edge in order to allow V2X decisions to be computed and relayed. If the application is more related to management of resource like parking or manufacturer tracking, then computation could happen on commodity compute equipment in the cloud,” he said.

    Designing for 5G
    For design engineers tasked with designing for 5G chips, there are many moving pieces in this puzzle, each with its own set of considerations. At the base station, for example, one of the main problems is power consumption.

    “Most of the base stations are being designed on leading process nodes for ASICs and FPGAs,” said Geoff Tate, CEO of Flex Logix. “Right now they’re designed with SerDes, which uses a lot of power and takes up area. If you can build the programmability into the ASIC, you eliminate power and area because you don’t need a SerDes running fast outside the chip, and you have more bandwidth between the programmable logic and the ASIC. Intel has been doing this with its Xeons and Altera FPGAs in the same package. You get 100X more bandwidth that way. And one of the interesting things about base stations is you design that technology and then can sell it and use it everywhere in the world. With cell phones, you design different versions for different countries.”

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    5G antenna systems are tested with robots

    The 5G technology’s expected gigabit data rates require the use of dozens, even hundreds of targeted antennas between the base station and the terminals in the millimeter region. Researchers at NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) make use of robots in the development of these antenna systems.

    It’s a LAPS (Large Antenna Position System). There, two robots are moving intelligent, directed antennas that are connected to the base station matrix of hundreds of antennas.

    The LAPS system can be used to test and simulate, for example, the connection between fast moving terminals and the base station. This requires both precise timing of the signals and precisely planned robot movement.


  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Radio Over Fiber Paves Way for Future 5G Networks

    A manufacturer of III-V photonic devices claims to have proven the feasibility of 60-GHz radio over fiber (ROF) transmission at a 1,270-nm wavelength, paving the way to potential solutions for 5G networks.

    CST Global, a Scotland-based subsidiary of Sivers IMA Holdings AB in Kista, Sweden, carried out the feasibility study as part of an EU Horizon 2020 research project. The project, iBROW (innovative ultra-broadband ubiquitous wireless communications through tera-hertz transceivers), was led by the University of Glasgow and managed within CST Global by research engineer Horacio Cantu.

    The company says that ROF networks are emerging as a completely new and promising communication paradigm for delivering broadband wireless access services and fronthaul at 60 GHz, relying on the synergy between fixed optical and millimeter-wave technologies. ROF technology enables RF signals to be transported over fiber across kilometers and can be engineered for unity gain RF links. Hence, it is thought that it could do a lot to ease spectrum constraints, and it can replace multiple coax cables with a single fiber-optic cable. Among several benefits, ROF could also enhance cell coverage.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Making the Most of Millimeter Waves

    They were once the forgotten or “avoided” part of the frequency spectrum, but the promise of 5G is making millimeter-wave frequencies appear like the Promised Land.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Designing 5G Chips

    The next-gen wireless technology is riddled with problems, but that hasn’t slowed the pace of development.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tackle the Intricacies of 5G

    The accelerated standardization of 5G requires new tools and workflows to design and verify the highly integrated and adaptive signal processing, RF, and antenna devices associated with 5G New Radio (NR).

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Building a cloud-native 5G core will be essential
    David Nowoswiat -April 23, 2018

    As we get closer to a full 5G 3GPP specification, it is clear that the cloud will not simply be part of the 5G network, it will be a foundational element; the network will be “cloud native.” This became apparent in later releases of the 4G spec, including release 14, in which certain cloud and virtual architectural options began pointing toward a preferred direction on the road to 5G.

    As I highlighted in a previous article, 5G services such as augmented and virtual reality, HD video, IoT, and critical machine-to-machine communications (MTC, or sometimes just M2M) such as autonomous vehicles and industrial automation, will be more varied than traditional network services.

    Some services will have more stringent requirements in terms of bandwidth capacity, latency, and reliability, while also being less predictable in terms of demand, location, revenues, etc. Existing call models simply won’t apply.

    Access networks are those that connect subscribers to their communications providers; the core is comprised of the networks that connect the providers. Access networks are being virtualized so that they are programmable. In order to respond quickly and adapt to changing service demands and requirements, the new 5G core must likewise be programmable.

    A key attribute of this programmable core is support for network slicing – the ability to logically isolate segments of the networks.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Building a cloud-native 5G core will be essential

    As we get closer to a full 5G 3GPP specification, it is clear that the cloud will not simply be part of the 5G network, it will be a foundational element; the network will be “cloud native.” This became apparent in later releases of the 4G spec, including release 14, in which certain cloud and virtual architectural options began pointing toward a preferred direction on the road to 5G.

    Access networks are those that connect subscribers to their communications providers; the core is comprised of the networks that connect the providers. Access networks are being virtualized so that they are programmable. In order to respond quickly and adapt to changing service demands and requirements, the new 5G core must likewise be programmable.

    A key attribute of this programmable core is support for network slicing – the ability to logically isolate segments of the networks. This will enable network resources for access, transport/backhaul and core to be dynamically allocated either vertically or horizontally

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Home> Community > Blogs > Test Cafe
    Five unintended benefits of 5G

    Service providers, network equipment providers, and test equipment providers are all racing to deliver 5G wireless systems. We’ve all heard of the benefits of 5G: higher speeds, lower latencies, superior density. While fixed internet access is positioned to be the first major 5G application, many more are in the wings, including mobile applications.

    While much of the industry is opining on the future benefits of 5G, there are other benefits as well. The huge investments in components, equipment, and know-how will spin off benefits outside of directly 5G networking. Here are five I’ve identified.

    mmWave everything. Many 5G systems are based on the wide spectrum available at mmWave frequencies, essentially 30 GHz and above. Until now, these frequencies were the domain of military systems, satellite communication, and other comparatively niche applications. Not anymore.

    Phased-array radar. One of the existing applications poised to benefit greatly from 5G mmWave is phased-array radar

    Point-to-point mmWave backhaul. Often overlooked in the race to develop 5G radio technology are the backhaul challenges. That is, how does a 5G base station get access to the internet core when deployed?

    Gaming. Some of the top observers of network performance are gamers. This is due to gaming being dependent on both, high bandwidth and low latency. However, gamers are dependent on their local ISP’s performance, which is often optimized for video streaming. It is estimated that over 70% of the internet traffic in North America is video streaming, which requires high bandwidths but is not latency critical. 5G may change that. With URLLC (ultra-reliable low latency communications), 5G promises latencies under 1 ms, making it suitable for remote robotics or even remote surgery.

    Disrupting the edge. The internet has been an incredible disruptor, not just of the communication network, but of the general economy as a whole. The core communication network has been transformed from a circuit-switched network delivering voice services to a packet-switched network delivering data services.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Midrange Multicore Meets Mobile 5G Platforms
    The MIPS I7200 architecture is aimed at demanding embedded applications like 5G and networking.

    MIPS has its sights set on high-performance applications like 5G with its midrange MIPS I7200 architecture. The platform introduces the nanoMIPS instruction set, which is designed to be more space-efficient. MIPS I7200 only runs nanoMIPS code, so applications originally targeted for other MIPS platforms will need to be recompiled.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Brooklyn 5G Summit: Network Slicing & Edge Computing Gain Importance

    While much of the talk surrounding 5G revolves around the new radio, network slicing and edge computing could open many business use cases not previously considered.

    The fifth annual Brooklyn 5G Summit took place on April 25 and 26 at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Those of us not able to attend in person could watch it all through IEEEtv. The two days of presentations and panels highlighted 5G’s many aspects that included the technology — 5G New Radio (5GNR) to millimeter-wave (mmWave) — to the business use cases needed to make 5G a success.

    While 5GNR and mmWave technologies will bring higher data rates, the concepts of network slicing and edge computing within 5G could open new business use cases. Indeed, both computing resources have gained so much interest this year that the Brooklyn Summit dedicated an entire panel to them. Network slicing and edge computing appeared across several panels and presentations. “The core network is getting more important,” said DOCOMO’s Kenichirou Matsumoto. “The network cloud needs to divide to become more local,” referring to moving computation away from network cores. AT&T’s Peter Musgrave added, “The core needs more attention than 5GNR.”

    The idea behind network slicing stems from the fact that different users need different wireless services. A factory has different needs than a consumer or an IoT device. Instead of simply trying to build a network that moves bits faster, as was the case for 3G and 4G, network slicing lets applications take advantage of a virtual network that brings the most value.

    Fig. 1 shows the three most thought-about slices: mobile broadband, autonomous driving, and IoT. But there could be thousands of network slices developed over time. Some might even be dynamic, being created and destroyed as needed. Verizon’s Bill Stone opened his presentation by noting that the first slice for 5G will be fixed internet access.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Home> Community > Blogs > 5G Waves
    MIPI RFFE v2.1: Enabling the 5G transformation

    If there’s one safe bet about the future of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices, it’s this: their radio frequency (RF) front ends will be even more complex than they are today.

    The latest example is 5G, which increases front-end complexity in at least two ways. First, it uses a much wider range of bands than previous cellular generations: from 600 MHz to 40 GHz, with the potential for using additional bands at even higher frequencies within the next decade.

    Second, marketing is already making 5G synonymous with gigabit speeds.

    To help mitigate those challenges, the MIPI Alliance recently released the latest specification for its RF Front-End Control Interface (MIPI RFFE). Like its predecessors, MIPI RFFE v2.1 provides a common framework (Figure 1) for controlling multiple components, such as power amplifiers, low-noise amplifiers, filters, switches, power-management modules, and antenna tuners, to name a few. MIPI RFFE can be used when each function is in a separate device or when all the functions are integrated into one device, due to a point-to-multipoint architecture.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    2018 TSMC Technology Symposium: Listen – Analyze – Act

    Dr. Kevin Zhang, VP Business Development, started his message with: 5G applications require not only very low power solutions but also a multitude of radios in the package. Zhang explained that 22 ULP is a 5% optical shrink of 28 HPC+ to simplify cost reductions. He announced that 22 MRAM and 22 RRAM will be released during 2018, ’19 and 2020.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Software-Defined Test And Measurement

    SDx is making inroads into 5G, automotive radar, and other new technology.

    Software-defined radios, instrumentation and test are ramping up alongside a flood of new technologies related to assisted and autonomous vehicles, 5G, and military/aerospace electronics, breathing new life and significant change into the test and measurement market.

    Software-defined test adds flexibility in markets where the products and protocols are evolving or still being defined, and where system architectures are being tweaked or replaced to deal with an explosion of data. In effect, the entire compute infrastructure across multiple markets is shifting, and the number of signals that need to be optimized and processed is rising significantly. Alongside of that is software-based instrumentation, also known as virtual instrumentation, which builds in similar levels of flexibility rather than relying on benchtop, handheld, and standalone instruments that have been a mainstay of the test and measurement business for decades.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The world’s smallest online tester for 5G networks

    Anritsu has released a new firmware update for its small-sized Netowrk Master Pro MT1000A network tester. With the upgrade, the device will become the market’s smallest 5G network tester with 100 gigabytes of eCPRI support.

    Specifically, an upgraded MT1000A tester can test eCPRI connections that have been extended to support ethernet, ie radio traffic over Ethernet. This is becoming more common in 5G networks where the cells are usually small and base stations are connected to the chassis by Ethernet.

    With Ethernet, link latencies have very strict requirements. The MT1000A tester can measure other critical features in addition to delays.

    The MT1000A is capable of testing high-speed communication links from 10 megabytes to 100 gigabytes.


  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Transparentize Connections for 5G and WiGig Testing
    As applications reach higher frequencies, the right tools are needed to develop effective connector interfaces.

    Critical to many new projects is a transparent interface to the board—one that you do not even notice is there. This connector-to-board interface is referred to as the board “launch,” where the RF energy transitions from the connector to the board. Figure 1 shows a typical design with 2.92-mm interface 40-GHz connectors on the edge of the board.

    For designers moving to higher frequencies, i.e., into the 20-GHz range and higher, it will no longer suffice to just treat an SMA connector as a lumped 50-Ω element and mechanically join it to the printed-circuit board (PCB) using a standard footprint. For these designs, it’s now common to use 3D electromagnetic (EM) software tools, such as that supplied by COMSOL.

    The Need for 3D Models

    In 2D circuit simulators, the components on a PCB that operate at high frequencies can be modeled using S-parameters. This is not the case with a coaxial-connector-to-PCB transition. The transmission-line geometry in a connector is coaxial (circular). On a board, however, this geometry is planar. Correctly modeling how these two transmission-line types directly interact requires a 3D EM solver to address the complexities of the change in transmission-line mode from coaxial to planar.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How 5G reduces data transmission latency

    One of the essential requirements in 5G wireless systems is minimizing packet transmission latency for ultra-reliable and low latency (URLLC) services. One of the most prominent examples will be vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications. V2X certainly includes reaching vehicles with broadband services, but latency isn’t an issue there. Low latency in cellular networks is a prerequisite for making autonomous vehicles safe.

    Autonomous vehicles will have to sense other vehicles, road conditions, pedestrians, and other obstacles. Often there will be environmental sensors to supplement this information; that data will frequently be available to autonomous vehicles via road side units (RSU) or other vehicles. Low-latency connections among these RSUs, the V2X application servers, and vehicle-based systems will lead to faster decision-making, which will lead to improved safety.

    As an example, consider stopping distances. When a person operating a vehicle on a highway moving at 70 mph recognizes a danger, the traditional stopping distance is 96 meters, or 315 feet (Figure 1). Twenty-one meters of the total 96m is a thinking distance, based on a reaction time of 0.67s, the remaining 75m is actual braking distance. But with autonomous driving engaged, vehicles would recognize the dangerous situation earlier

    The V2X system assists vehicles to rapidly recognize the danger by alerting vehicles in vicinity of the hazardous situation, and the 1 millisecond (ms) end-to-end transmission latency requirement of 5G minimizes the reaction time of autonomous driving cars.

    The existing LTE (long-term evolution – a 4G technology) system has a couple of fundamental limitations preventing it from supporting 1ms latency. The first obstacle is that the minimum size of a radio transport block is a subframe having 1ms length.

    To reduce response time, 5G uses a scalable orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) framework with different numerologies. Within a 1ms time duration, six separate slot configurations are available, e.g. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 slots.

    Another characteristic of LTE that makes it difficult to reduce latency is the radio resource allocation delay between a vehicle and base station. When a vehicle wants to transmit packets, a radio resource grant procedure precedes the packet transmission. To transmit a resource scheduling request and send packets on the scheduled resource, a vehicle needs at least 8ms. In LTE, the semi-persistent scheduling (SPS) feature was introduced for periodic data transmissions like voice over IP (VoIP) services.

    When a base station configures SPS radio resources, a mobile handset can employ the periodic resources, without an additional scheduling request procedure.

    To reduce the waste of periodically allocated resources, 5G enables multiple devices to share the periodic resources, called a configured grant (Type 1). The configured grant is based on the LTE SPS feature.

    Ofinno has developed a number of patented technologies regarding SPS and configured grant technologies.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    RF SOI Wars Begin

    5G is driving up demand for both 300mm and 200mm capacity. Both are in short supply.

    Several foundries are expanding their fab capacities for RF SOI processes amid huge demand and shortages of this technology for smartphones.

    A number of foundries are increasing their 200mm RF SOI fab capacities to meet soaring demand. Then, GlobalFoundries, TowerJazz, TSMC and UMC are expanding or bringing up RF SOI processes in 300mm fabs in an apparent race to garner the first wave of RF business for 5G, the next-generation wireless standard.

    RF SOI is a specialized process used to make select RF chips, such as switch devices and antenna tuners, for smartphones and other products. RF SOI is the RF version of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology, which is different than fully-depleted SOI (FD-SOI) for digital chips.

    There are several dynamics at play with RF SOI. In simple terms, the number of frequency bands has increased in wireless networks. So OEMs must add more RF components, such as RF switches based on RF SOI, in smartphones to deal with the complexity of these bands as well as other issues.

    This, in turn, is causing greater-than-expected demand for many RF chips, particularly those based on RF SOI processes.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Algorithms to Antenna: Massive-MIMO Hybrid Beamforming

    Hybrid beamforming can be a practical option when it comes to massive-MIMO systems. This post examines the technology and the techniques employed for both multi-user and single-user systems.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    X/Ku Band Beamformer Handles Four Antennas at Once

    Working in an 8- to 16-GHz frequency range, Analog Devices’ ADAR1000 X/Ku band beamformer chip can manage four antennas simultaneously.

    Steerable radar systems use mechanical means to adjust a single antenna element. Phased-array radar utilizes multiple fixed antennas to perform a similar function. The challenge with phased beamforming is that the electronics must be replicated for each antenna within an array.

    Analog Devices’ GaN-based ADAR1000 X/Ku band beamformer chip can handle four antennas at once (Fig. 1). The chip supports a frequency range from 8 to 16 GHz. Maximum operating gain is 20 dB for the transmit side and 9 dB for the receive side. It has 360-deg. phase control with a 2.8-deg. phase-control resolution and 31-dB gain control. A single pin handles the transmit/receive toggle. It fits in a 7- × 7-mm LGA package.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New System Design Tools a Must for 5G RF Front-Ends
    5G networks will pose challenges to RF front-end (RFFE) design in mobile devices.

    While 5G wireless standards are still under development, it’s not too early to predict that 5G device designs will be more complex, have more components (particularly filters), and be expected to deliver higher networking and processing performance. At the same time, they will be smaller and less expensive. The 5G networking standards now under development intend to accommodate a wide variety of use cases that are now served with disparate technologies. These range from low-bandwidth Internet of Things (IoT) to high-bandwidth video.

    The challenges that come with accommodating these use cases will impact every part of 5G deployments, but perhaps will add the most complexity and challenge to the RF front-end (RFFE) in mobile devices—if for no other reason than there is very little space to accommodate this complexity. A full understanding of the impact of 5G networks on RFFE starts with the network environment in which the devices will work.
    5G RAN

    The 5G radio access network (RAN) is expected to be a combination of technologies, nodes, and frequencies, and this mix will result in one of the biggest challenges for 5G deployment.
    Coordinated multipoint (CoMP) will be required for efficient spectrum usage.

    Multiple and dynamic use of different modulation schemes. The diversity of use cases in 5G, well beyond those requiring high-speed data (4G), will be the driver of a wide range of modulation schemes.

    Device-to-device communication facilitating network capacity off-load.

    Given the technical challenges outlined above, we can draw some conclusions about end-user wireless devices, particularly mobile broadband phones. These devices will exist in an environment that includes:

    More complexity.
    More components, particularly MIMO and carrier aggregation (CA) filters.
    More demands on performance. High isolation between bands, low insertion loss (especially at band edges).
    Smaller size and lower cost. Overall phone size will not change significantly, nor will overall mobile device margin requirements. Thus, even though there will be more components built into the unit, they will have to be smaller and cheaper.
    Dual connectivity between cellular and Wi-Fi networks.
    Higher frequency components (>6 GHz) will be introduced as these components drop in size and cost.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Algorithms to Antenna: Massive-MIMO Hybrid Beamforming

    Hybrid beamforming can be a practical option when it comes to massive-MIMO systems. This post examines the technology and the techniques employed for both multi-user and single-user systems.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    IEEE’s Gary Dagastine focuses on a series of upcoming technical challenges for 5G.

    How 5G Differs From Previous Network Technologies

    From new requirements for data centers to the need for low latency, 5G will present the industry with new challenges.

    They gave insights into why 5G networks aren’t likely to roll out on a nationwide scale, why a one-millisecond network latency is “magical,” how working directly with a foundry can support more holistic solutions, and many other important considerations.

    5G computing demands optimized silicon
    Bartlett said 5G will drive profound changes in the computing requirements for devices and data centers, because the complexity and volume of network traffic are growing exponentially as the result of more users, more transactions per user and richer content per transaction.

    “Data center applications will require very fast processors and near-100% uptime, while edge-connected devices will require chips with extremely low-power/low-leakage performance, and with embedded memory for storage and RF for wireless connectivity,” he said.

    Both applications also will make use of artificial intelligence (AI) functionality but they will do so differently, he said. Data centers will use AI to learn, anticipate and direct the behavior of devices and networks, while edge-connected devices such as automotive cameras will use it locally for real-time processing and inference. 5G bandwidth is essential to support all these uses.

    Bartlett said many companies will find it difficult to take advantage of 5G opportunities because of the significant investments required in design tools, EDA, intellectual property (IP) development and verification. “Many new, innovative companies can’t absorb these development costs, and they need technology solutions offering both competitive advantage and cost reductions going forward,” he said.

    He explained how GF’s dual-technology roadmap offers this flexibility, with advanced FinFET CMOS technology for high-performance computing, and FD-SOI technology for wireless and battery-powered applications, both of which can be integrated with best-in-class RF functionality. Application-specific ICs, or ASICs, are another path forward to 5G.

    Customers are clamoring for such wide-ranging, flexible foundry solutions. “We have a growing portfolio of what I call ‘revolutionary’ customers, who are using new silicon as a wedge to break or change their industry’s traditional competitive framework,” he said. “They are demanding easier access to silicon and we have aligned ourselves accordingly to provide the optimized solutions they need.”

    5G connectivity brings more complexity
    On the connectivity side, Bami Bastani said 5G will be rolled out in stages, leveraging the existing 4G/LTE backbone. First there will be enhancements to the existing system, then an initial rollout of sub-6GHz bands with massive MIMO architectures for high-rate transmission, and then a second rollout to expand network capacity and drive even higher data transmission rates by leveraging mmWave bands.

    “This all means a more complex radio is required, one that works not only with new network protocols but also with legacy protocols and bands,” he said. “Thus, front-end modules (FEMs) must evolve in many ways as the transition from 4G to 5G takes place.”

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Small Cell Backhaul Architecture

    While 3G networks typically are deployed with cell site spacing of 3 km, 4G architecture will lead to picocells, especially in dense urban environments. This video outlines the characteristics of picocells and the reasons why 60 GHz wireless technology is ideal for small cell backhaul. Presented by Paul Obsitnik, BridgeWave Communications.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Maximizing MEMS for Precision Timing Devices

    MEMS oscillator technology is being touted as the precision timing solution for future 5G wireless networks.

    Numerous different signal-source technologies will be on display at the 2018 IMS exhibition, including temperature-compensated crystal oscillators (TCXOs) and oven-controlled crystal oscillators (OCXOs) based on crystal resonators. Additional technologies include surface-acoustic-wave (SAW) resonators and bulk-acoustic-wave (BAW) oscillators.

    One of the more recent precision source technologies, microelectromechanical-systems (MEMS) technology, will also be demonstrated for visitors to the SiTime Corp. (booth 1433) in the 5G Pavilion on the 2018 IMS exhibition floor. These MEMS-based timing solutions are expected to provide solutions in emerging 5G wireless networks.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Comparing Circuit Materials for mmWave Applications

    Rogers Corp. will be showing its wide range of high-frequency circuit materials at the 2018 IEEE IMS exhibition, including the RO3000 line.

    Frequency bands at 60 and 77 GHz, once considered experimental, are now being thought of as mainstream, since they’re the basis for automotive radar systems and for high-speed, short-haul data links in 5G wireless networks.

    The RO3000 line of circuit materials is usable to 77 GHz and higher for advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) applications such as automotive front and rear collision-avoidance radar systems and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications systems.

    RO4000 circuit materials maintain consistent Dk and CTE values for microwave-frequency circuits, but can be processed using the same low-cost fabrication methods as FR4 circuit materials.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Power Detector Shows Wide Range at IMS

    MACOM unveiled its broadband power detector with a wide dynamic range spanning −15 to +15 dBm from 5 to 44 GHz.

    Measurement solutions were prevalent on the 2018 IEEE IMS exhibition show floor, especially those reaching into the millimeter-wave range. For those measuring wideband power, for example, MACOM unveiled its new model MADT-011000 with a high dynamic range of 30 dB from 5 to 44 GHz. Visitors to booth 1125 had an opportunity to see this high-performance detector among the many products on display.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    MIMO Clears Channels for More Wireless Data

    Antenna arrays may not always receive the attention they deserve, but in many wireless-communications applications, they are the “silent enablers” that make the connection from one point to another. Each generation of wireless communications seems to be attempting a new, higher data rate along with its wireless voice and video capabilities, exacerbating the need for novel technologies such as multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antenna techniques. In many ways, MIMO is a variation on the phased-array techniques that have long been successful in military electronic systems, including radars.

    Advanced antenna-array techniques make it possible to accomplish successful wireless communications links even as bandwidth is shrinking.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Microsemi and China Telecom collaborate on next-gen OTN addressing 5G requirements

    Microsemi Corp.,a wholly owned subsidiary of Microchip Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: MCHP), said it will collaborate with China Telecom Beijing Research Institute to define and develop next-generation optical transport networks based on Optical Transport Network (OTN) technology to address strict 5G requirements. The various use cases of 5G will establish new requirements, including network slicing, stringent latency, and timing synchronization on the underlying OTN infrastructure. According to Microsemi, the traffic flow from the radio to the mobile edge will grow significantly with the planning of 25G, 50G, and 100-Gbps port rates for 5G remote radio heads.

    China Telecom is leading the Next-Generation Optical Transport Network Forum (NGOF) consortium that was created to stimulate industry collaboration and technological innovations, defining converged optical networks that address 5G deployment demands.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Millimeter wave beamforming and antenna design

    Beamforming networks (BFN) are used to combine signals from small antennae into a pattern that is more directional than each individual antenna alone because of the array factor. Beamformers are used in radar and communications. A radar example is a linear array capable of four beams in azimuth for an automotive radar; a communications example is a two-dimensional beamformer used in a satellite to cover a broad ground area in multiple spots.

    BFN can provide simultaneous beam coverage, such as in a satellite, or single-point coverage, like that of a classic phased array radar system. Beams can be fixed in a design or adaptive using beam-steering computer control.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    These Solutions Target Emerging mmWave Systems

    collections of mmWave products was on display at Pasternack’s booth 2133, with everything from amplifiers, frequency mixers and multipliers, oscillators, switches, and synthesizers through 60 GHz and beyond. Active and passive components with both coaxial and waveguide connectors were showcased with full data and tested performance levels.

    The growing interest in mmWave frequencies and components for use through about 80 GHz stems from emerging applications in automotive electronic safety systems, such as mmWave radar for ADAS platforms and high-speed data links for 5G wireless networks.

    The Pasternack Cable Creator, an online tool, can quickly create customized coaxial cables from among a wide range of cable types and connectors.

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    5G wireless infrastructure seen pushing high-speed SerDes protocols

    “All major wireless carriers (Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T) have announced their intentions to begin 5G rollout in the US by the end of this year. Although this may appear to be a “simple” incremental generation advancement, 5G actually requires significant investments and potential changes in infrastructure compared to previous generations. These changes for 5G, as any other infrastructure that relies on high-speed transfer of data, processing and re-distribution of processed data, rely heavily on ultra-high speed and low latency ­serial data communication…As the push to 5G brings more complexity to fronthaul network infrastructure, with increased bandwidth and data processing, ASIC interfaces must keep up. In addition to the CPRI and JESD204 standards, the microchips in 5G infrastructures often communicate to a variety of other devices using Ethernet, PCIe and a few other protocols requiring serial data communication interfaces supporting those standards. While there is a set of common requirements, each of the above interfaces pose specific challenges of their own, and high-speed SerDes design will require many design considerations and possible architecture changes to address the more complex channels and higher data rates.”

    5G Wireless Infrastructure Pushes High-Speed SerDes Protocols

    Reducing SerDes latency variation and jitter is necessary for long-reach networking applications.

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Differentiate Between 4G LTE and Non-Standalone 5G NR Antennas

    Due to its more advanced technology, non-standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio will require different antenna requirements than those of 4G LTE systems.

    In December 2017, the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) issued Release 15, which created an early version of 5G, called 5G non-standalone (NSA). NSA 5G New Radio (NR) implements some of the key 5G application features, namely enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC), as well as detailing new sub-6-GHz frequencies and introducing millimeter-wave (mmWave) frequency bands.

    Some of the methods enabling new NSA 5G NR specifications have been available in 4G LTE Advanced Pro, namely multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) and carrier aggregation (CA). However, Release 15 defines advanced versions of these technologies alongside the need for co-location and compatibility between 4G and 5G RF hardware.

    As stated, the key features of 3GPP Release 15 NSA 5G NR are eMBB and URLLC.1 These features are enabled by advanced antenna techniques, antenna tuning, and infrastructure changes regarding deployment of base stations and UEs.

    These changes directly impact antenna design and technologies, creating a rift between previous 4G LTE antennas and future 5G versions. Beyond opening up additional sub-6-GHz spectrum and assigning new mmWave spectrum for NSA 5G NR, many other operational dynamics exist that define the differences between 4G LTE and NSA 5G NR antennas

    4G LTE Base-Station Antennas vs. NSA 5G NR

    It’s important to note that the rollout of NSA 5G NR will likely only include the eMBB features of MIMO and CA, along with much lower latencies. And its rollout will pick up as 4G LTE continues to roll out. However, it will be several years before viable mmWave 5G is introduced.

    4×4 MIMO Downlink for Base Stations

    For NSA 5G NR, MIMO means more antennas, typically implemented as arrays of antennas, or similar to MIMO-capable Wi-Fi routers with several distinct external antennas. Given the cost, reliability, and size constraints for already congested tower sites and future pole and small-cell sites, NSA 5G NR base-station antennas need to be compact and integrated. Otherwise, carriers may incur additional costs for deploying complex, larger, and heavier MIMO antennas.

    As the initial rollouts of NSA 5G NR will likely be below 6 GHz, the 4G LTE base-station antennas will either be co-located or replaced with NSA 5G NR antennas that support 4G LTE bands and the new 3.5-GHz NSA 5G NR band.

    Many telecom companies have already begun deploying 4G LTE pole sites, small cells, and distributed antenna systems (DASs) to provide higher throughput, lower latency, and better coverage in congested and otherwise underserved locations. As a result, a trend of deploying microsite base stations can already be seen in many regions, which will be a key dynamic of the 5G infrastructure.

    Some sub-6-GHz NSA 5G NR frequencies, namely the 3.5-GHz band, are significantly higher than other 4G LTE bands. Thus, the RF signals attenuate greater and require better alignment between tower antennas and UEs than lower-frequency 4G LTE signals.

    Many 4G LTE antennas for small cells offer a narrow range of bands. NSA 5G NR micro sites and small cells, on the other hand, will need to field antennas that can serve several of the higher frequency and bandwidth 4G LTE and NSA 5G NR frequencies in more compact packages.

    Many hardware manufacturers designate next year, 2019, to produce the first 5G smartphones. These devices will only be augmented 4G LTE smartphones enhanced with 3.5-GHz NSA 5G NR capacity.3.1.1 However, the RF front-end (RFFE) is already a complex combination of densely integrated antennas, antenna tuners, and RF chips.


    NSA 5G NR base stations and UE, including handsets, will see additional and more advanced antenna technology compared to earlier 4G LTE systems.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    SDR Modules Offer Head Start to RF/Microwave Radio Design
    A line of SDR-based radio modules on display at the 2018 IMS exhibition covers various bandwidths at S-, C-, X-, and K-band frequencies.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    5G Testing and Conformance Bring New Challenges

    Meik Kottkamp: The principles of testing and, in particular, for conformance have not changed moving from 4G to 5G. They continue to be based on agreements reached in the relevant 3GPP working groups. For example, 3GPP RAN4 defines requirements for both base stations and end-user devices and specifies the testing for base stations. Additionally, 3GPP RAN5 covers the testing specifications for end-user devices.

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Will 5G blow up the fronthaul network

    We all know the 5G promise: ultra-fast speed and higher responsiveness (lower latency), but have you ever really thought about what that means to the network behind the cell tower? Several aspects of 5G are conspiring to potentially overwhelm the fronthaul network—one of the links between your phone and the internet.

    Can we handle the speed?
    First, the radios in phones and on top of the cell tower will need to handle the higher data transfer rates. Using new 5G frequency bands (including higher-frequency millimeter-wave bands), wider bandwidths, and more complex modulation schemes, the wireless link should be able to support higher 5G transfer rates and lower latencies. Qualcomm, which builds the modem chipset that is at the heart of smartphone and base station radios, recently demonstrated 4Gbps peak transfer rates as a convincing data point.

    But new 5G base stations don’t just have to deal with higher transfer rates per user, they also must support more users per cell site. A new 5G technology, massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), will leverage large antenna arrays on the cell tower to handle more users at the same time, while improving transfer rates and connection reliability.

    A third complicating factor is that massive MIMO requires many more RF data streams than the number of users being serviced. A separate signal is needed for each antenna and more than 100 antennas may be used.

    Fourth, the centralization of the radio access network (called C-RAN) is moving some radio processing functions back into the mobile core, which means larger uncompressed radio data needs to transit a larger portion of the network.

    It’s a perfect storm: higher transfer rates to each user, more users, many more data streams than users, and larger uncompressed data streams. Each one of these changes would stress the connection from the base station to the internet; combined, they pose a much larger problem.


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