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.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *