Qualcomm pushes 4nm for 5G OpenRAN small cell platform

June 28, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Qualcomm pushes 4nm for 5G OpenRAN small cell platform
Qualcomm Technologies has launched the industry’s first OpenRAN 5G mmwave platform for small cells that works with 3GPP Release 16 using 4nm chip technology

Qualcomm is pushing process technology to 4nm for its latest chip for OpenRAN industrial networks with millimetre wave capability. 

The FSM200xx aims to take millimetre wave links into more places, indoors and outdoors, as well as more dense public and private networks by adding small cells where more coverage is needed. This is the company’s second-generation design for small cells and adds support for all commercial global mmWave and Sub-6 GHz bands, including the new n259 (41 GHz), n258(26 GHz) and FDD bands. 

The 3GPP Release 16 support also supports the move to Industry 4.0 and the factory of the future with Enhanced Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication (eURLLC) that are critical to controlling equipment and machines.

The platform is based around a 4nm chip, up from 10nm in the first generation, and includes the first Qualcomm mmwave high-power antenna module for customer premises equipment (CPE). It supports 64 dual polarization antenna elements capable of transmitting power of more than 40dBm (Power Class 1) with an integrated 5G NR radio transceiver, power management IC, RF front-end components, and phased antenna array. Up to 2x2 MIMO with dual-layer polarization can be used in both downlinks and uplinks for higher data rqates and there is also support for beam forming, beam steering, and beam tracking for bi-directional mobile mmWave communication.

Current leading edge chips are on 5nm process technology, with 3nm coming into production at the end of 2022. The 4nm process is an optical shrink of 5nm to reduce die size and power consumption. As a result the platform is expected to start shipping at the first half of 2022.

The platform is designed to work with other equipment using the OpenRAN specification and supports data speeds of up to 8 Gbit/s with 1 GHz bandwidth support on mmWave and support for wider 200MHz carrier bandwidth as well as spectrum aggregation of 200 MHz of Sub-6 GHz spectrum across FDD and TDD delivering data speeds of up to 4 Gbps.

The OpenRAN (O-RAN) compliance supports all key 5G functional split options allowing for the disaggregation of the RAN into standards-based and interoperable modular components which provides OEMs and operators enhanced deployment flexibility.

“As enterprises traverse this digital journey of 5G and virtualization towards intelligent industry, we see URLLC, O-RAN compatibility and low power solutions as key requirements of their next generation 5G private networks,” said Shamik Mishra, chief technology officer and head of connectivity at Capgemini Engineering, a key 5G network centric integrator and platform provider for 5G OEMs and the only public European partner. “Capgemini Engineering continues to nurture and extend its collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies in creating mature, feature rich 5G control plane and RAN platforms for Sub-6 GHz and mmWave bands accelerating development of the 5G OEM and ODM ecosystem for Industry 4.0 and Private network use cases. Introduction of newer 3GPP R16 features will further expand and enable the adoption of these technologies to benefit industries such as manufacturing and automotive for advanced use cases.”

Power over Ethernet (PoE) support allows power and backhaul data from one source which simplifies deployments and reduces cost. It also is designed to facilitate small form factor designs for indoor deployments in offices, factories, and public venues.   

“Qualcomm Technologies’ engineers have been leading in the small cells industry for over a decade with our Qualcomm RAN platform. As Open RAN and small cells infrastructure continue to gain momentum, Qualcomm Technologies is at the forefront of delivering cutting edge 5G mmWave and Sub-6 GHz technology to power 5G networks on a global scale,” said Gerardo Giaretta, senior director, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “Small cells have been at the heart of the global 5G proliferation and Qualcomm Technologies is leading the charge as the industry transitions to open and virtualized 5G RAN networks.” 

“The Qualcomm RAN Platforms play a key role in both our 4G small cell and 5G mmWave deployments,” said Tareq Amin, representative director, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Rakuten Mobile, which with Nokia and samsung is using the first generation FS<100xx platfrom. “We are very excited to see the announcement of the new FSM200xx solution and look forward to how it will support more powerful 3GPP Release 16 features such as eURLLC and flexible architecture on our virtualized RAN platform for different use cases."

Qualcomm Technologies is working with companies such as Airspan, Altiostar, Askey, Baicells, Foxconn Industrial Internet, Innowireless, Radisys, Sercomm and Shenzhen GongJin Electronics, and is one of a number of announcements from the company at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this week.

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