System-on-a-Chip Tech: The Key to Unlocking 5G’s Full Potential
By Derek Johnston, Marketing Director, Networks Division, Samsung Electronics America
A key element of initial 5G network rollouts has been field programmable gate array (FPGA) chipsets – an integrated circuit generally used in early commercial 5G solutions for its programmability and design flexibility. But with this flexibility comes some trade-offs, mainly, less overall processing power. To reach the processing power necessary for 5G requires the installation of multiple FPGAs, which leads to the challenges of higher power consumption, increased costs, and larger sized equipment.
To address the high-volume, mass production requirements of the industry—as well as the need for more power efficient and increased operating frequency capabilities—more of today’s network technology OEMs are moving to ASICs based System-on-a-Chip (SoC) product designs.
With the industry solidified around the 5G New Radio (NR) standard, the shift to System-on-a-Chip-based radio technology represents the next phase of commercial 5G solutions. Today’s commercial solutions are moving away from programming or reconfiguring circuitry, and instead designing permanent, application-specific circuits that consume less power. As a result, SoC-based radio equipment will enable 5G solutions that are more compact, simpler to deploy and more power efficient.
This is why Samsung has tapped its leadership in semiconductor and network technology–and combined it with its expertise in 5G research and development–to introduce one of the industry’s first SoC 5G New Radio (NR) modems: the S8600 and S9100. These new modems support two architectural options for operators. The S8600 powers Samsung’s Digital Unit in separated radio-digital configurations for both 4G and 5G, while the S9100 powers Samsung’s 5G integrated Access Unit.
Showcased recently at Mobile World Congress LA 2019, the S9100 chipset, in combination with Samsung’s mmWave RF chipsets, enables an approximate 25 percent reduction in size, weight and power consumption of Samsung base stations, when compared to the previous generation 28GHz base station.
This once again evolves base station innovation to meet market demands, contributing to the creation of smaller, streamlined radio access units that can be easily installed on streetlight poles and building walls, and provide operators a way to speed up 5G network deployments. Our new SoC chipset is integrated within Samsung’s latest 5G NR Access Unit for the 28GHz spectrum the industry’s first 5G integrated radio unit for mmwave spectrum that eliminates the need for a ‘fronthaul’ fiber connection.
Samsung’s newest Access Unit demonstrates its commitment to R&D innovation, a notion articulated by in a report by Ovum Research Practice Leader, Daryl Schoolar. According to Schoolar:
“This shows ongoing R&D commitment to the area of 5G infrastructure, an important attribute when it comes to building mobile operator relationships. Operators want vendor partners that will not only deploy 5G but will also be with them throughout the full life cycle of 5G. 28GHz radio enhancements support this.”
Samsung is proud to have Verizon as the first customer of the new 5G NR Access Unit. This unit supports greater capacity than current commercial solutions, with up to 10Gbps data throughput in a 4 transmit and 4 receive (4T4R) antenna configuration. The size, weight, enhanced capacity and power-saving advantages that come with the new 5G NR Access Unit – along with SoC product designs – will help set the stage for carriers to continue accelerating 5G network deployments, and bring their benefits to consumers and businesses alike.