TowerJazz and The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) demonstrated for the first time >12 Gbps from a 5G phased-array chipset operating between 28 and 31 GHz, a band planned for 5G use in several countries. This chipset shows that products can be fabricated today to meet the emerging 5G telecom standards for the next wave of worldwide mobile communications. The chipset was fabricated with TowerJazz’s high volume, SiGe BiCMOS technology, achieving record performance in the 28 GHz band and more than a 10x improvement in data rate vs. 4G LTE. The chipset meets many other technical specifications of the emerging 5G standard.
5G Status and Recent Announcements
The FCC in July 2016 released plans to provide new frequency bands ahead of the agreed upon 5G wireless standards. This includes licensed spectrum at 28 and 37 to 40 GHz and the unlicensed 64 to 71 GHz band.
Recent reports (January 2017) have estimated that 5G communications could foster a $12 trillion economy in 2035 (IHS Markit). During the next seven years, $275 billion in spending on infrastructure could result from 5G deployment in the USA (CTIA/Accenture report).
Though 5G standards have not yet been fixed, several reports from the world’s leading network service providers suggest 5G data rates will be 1 to 10 Gbps, compared to the 4G standards which are 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps.
5G demos are beginning worldwide. Verizon has stated that it will begin pre-trials of 5G in the U.S. using the 28 GHz band, and will “achieve some level of commercialization” in 2017.
About the 5G Chipsets and H3 Process
The 5G transmit and receive chipsets reported today achieved more than 12 Gbps data rates at 30 meters separation, and greater than 3 Gbps when separated by 300 meters, using two polarizations. The UCSD chip utilizes 16-64-256 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) schemes to achieve these data rates. The measured EVM (error vector magnitude), a figure of merit used to determine the quality of the data received, suggests both chipsets are already performing at 4G LTE levels. The 64-QAM link reported today at 12 Gbps, has an EVM < 5% at 30 meters. The 16 QAM link at 3 Gbps has an EVM <12% at 300m and over all scan angles, and all with no FEC or equalization. The system operates in a dual-polarization mode. In addition, the 4 x 8 (32-element) phased-arrays use SiGe core chips and are assembled on a multi-layer printed-circuit board together with the antennas. Record figures of merit such as NF (Noise Figure), EIRP (Equivalent Isotropically Radiated Power), and EVM have been demonstrated.
“The TowerJazz H3 platform is truly great, and allows for 13-20 dBm transmit power per element with high PAE (power-added efficiency) of 20% at 28 GHz. Also, it offers very low-noise transistors resulting in an LNA NF of 2.4 dB at 28 GHz, high-Q inductors and low-loss transmission-lines for on-chip power distribution,” said Prof. Gabriel Rebeiz, member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, distinguished professor and wireless communications industry chair at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.
By using TowerJazz’s SiGe BiCMOS technology, UCSD’s design team, led by graduate student Kerim Kibaroglu and post-doctoral fellow Mustafa Sayginer, and with the use of state-of-the-art Keysight equipment such as the 8195A Arbitrary Wave Generator, the DSOS804A Digital Scope and the Signal Studio suite with the VSA software, was able to achieve record links at 30 to 300 meters over all scan angles. Prof. Rebeiz added, “We thank TowerJazz for this wonderful process and look forward to continued collaboration.”
Today, peak wireless data rates for 4G LTE can be up to 1 Gbps, but are nominally lower around 100 to 300 Mbps. Here, TowerJazz has demonstrated more than 10x those speeds using the UCSD 5G next-generation mobile designs made with its high volume H3 technology.
“We continue to release additional technology nodes, e.g. our H5 and H6, which have even lower noise devices and higher speed capabilities. These technologies will enable 5G designers to further increase data rates through higher QAM modulation schemes, or shrink chip sizes and increase the distance over which these 5G chips can perform,” said Dr. David Howard, Executive Director and TowerJazz Fellow. “Also, as we add new features to our SiGe Terabit Platform, we support easy evolution of customer technology for fast time to market. This allows our customers to grow their technology roadmap and products as the 5G standards evolve.”
The SBC18H3 process, as well as H4, H5 processes, are available through TowerJazz at www.towerjazz.com. Chips used in the technology demonstrations are available from UCSD and interested parties should contact Prof. Gabriel M. Rebeiz; Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering at UCSD, 858/336-3186 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Phased Arrays
Phased arrays allow the electronic steering of an antenna beam in any direction and with high antenna gain by controlling the phase at each antenna element. The radiated beam can be “moved in space” using entirely electronic means through control of the phase and amplitude at each antenna element used to generate the beam. This beam steering technique is much more compact and much faster than mechanically steered arrays. Furthermore, phased arrays allow the creation of deep nulls in the radiation pattern to mitigate strong interference signals from several different directions. They have been in use since the 1950s in defense applications and are receiving intense commercial interest for automotive (radars) and communication (5G) chip markets.