Nokia creates 5G chip venture

Nokia creates 5G chip venture

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Nokia is setting up a design centre with Tampere University in Finland for the development of System-on-Chip (SoC) custom processors for its ReefShark 5G chipset.

The Centre of Excellence is expected to open next month and will work on a new chip every year to accelerate the introduction of the technology into Nokia’s ReefShark chipset. The aim is to accelerate the development of proprietary SoC chipsets, including their design and manufacture, to improve time-to-market and to build a long-term SoC development competence.

“The joint venture will also target an annual chip cadence with ecosystem partners, and see Nokia contribute to module and physical implementation,” says the company.

Part of this will be looking at machine learning, artificial intelligence and security hardware development as well as open source hardware based SoCs, a veiled reference to RISC-V cores rather than ARM. 

Back in March Nokia highlighted that it had worked closely with Intel on the x86 Atom P5900 processor, with jointly developed custom silicon included in Nokia’s AirScale radio access products. “This collaboration further advances the capabilities of its ReefShark chipset, leveraging the latest silicon chip design technologies and manufacturing capabilities,” said Nokia. It is also working with Marvell and Broadcom on ARM-based processors SoC chips for ReefShark.

Nokia says the new Centre at Tampere University will work on future research projects, with SoC and RF, as well as guide the training of graduate engineers in chip design.

The project is supported by Business Finland through Nokia’s Veturi initiative that drives industrial 5G and ecosystem development with industry partners and leading universities. Nokia has had an ‘Innovation Centre’ on the Tampere campus for nearly 20 years.

“This is an exciting joint project that accelerates silicon innovation and ultimately enables operators to realize the benefits of 5G. We have recruited a professor of practice and started the recruitment process of two international professorships,” said Jyrki Vuorinen, Dean of the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences at Tampere University.

“This important collaboration highlights our continued commitment to developing our ReefShark chipset portfolio and ensures that Nokia 5G solutions deliver a best-in-class performance to our customers. We look forward to working closely and collaboratively with Tampere University on this exciting venture,” said Ari Kynaslahti, Head of Product Management at Nokia.

ReefShark is based on 3GPP 5G New Radio specifications to support higher bandwidth and massive MIMO antennas. It boosts baseband compute capacity through plug-in units fitted into the commercially available Nokia AirScale system module, which is itself also software upgradeable to full 5G functionality. The plug-in units triple throughput from 28Gbit/s to 85 Gbit/s per module.

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