Back to nextFacts

Enabling the 5G Revolution with Solution SoCs

5G is the fifth-generation technology for digital wireless and cellular networks. In 2019 the first companies started to test and deploy small sub-systems, with the expectations that 5G is going to revolutionize telecommunication applications and solutions in the coming years.

5G NR (New Radio) using the new standards will exceed more than 1 billion subscribers worldwide by 2025. 5G will transform existing applications, it will alter and revolutionize cloud services, and the Internet of things (IoT).

This will lead to new developments and optimization efforts to enhance existing ecosystems for consumers and industry to support higher data rates, dedicated latency requirements and the increased number of connected devices.

5G (NR) is generally distinguished between three user cases. Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC), massive Machine Type Communication (MMTC) and enhanced Mobile Broadband (EMBB).

Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC)

URLLC provides very low latency (<1ms air, 5ms end to end) and ultra-high reliability (availability of 99.9999% of the time) that are crucial for services used in for example: wireless controlled rescue missions, remote surgery, intelligent transportation systems, factory automation and smart grid applications. URLLC does not require a very high data rate.

Enhanced Mobile Broadband (EMBB)

EMBB is the next generation and extension of the current 4G LTE services but with faster connections, supporting high mobility up to 500 km/h. It enables up to 10,000 times more traffic/capacity with higher data rates (100Mbps when required with 10 to 20 Gbps peak data rates) compared to 4G LTE. A network energy saving up to 100 times can be expected and latency requirements of around 4ms.

Massive Machine Type Communication (MMTC)

MMTC is ultra-low cost and has an extremely high connection density enabling up to 1. Mio. devices per km2, with a coverage penetration of 164 dB and a battery life of >10 years. On the other hand, it has very low latency requirements (around 10 sec) and a very low payload (20 bytes/s). Applications like smart logistics, smart cities, smart sensors, connected industrial and home appliances (sometimes also referred to as Massive IoT) are using these services.

5G and Socionext

The 5G Ecosystems are driven and supported by a variety of fast-growing applications used in the network wireless network domain, the industry (incl IoT) and from the end-user perspective. 5G ASIC suppliers and vendors are investing heavily in 5G development. The enhanced requirements demand new state-of-the- art solutions with a focus on enabling not only all required services but also cost saving, commercial risk reduction and achieving the best time-to-market.

Socionext is a world-leading supplier of System-on-Chip solutions, focused on Automotive, Industrial and Networking technologies that drive a wide variety of applications and solutions. We are, therefore, well prepared to accommodate any service requirement, solving any challenges as well as supporting and leading customers and partners to the new 5G area.

Since Socionext is an integrated device manufacturer (IDM)) with the benefit of being fabless which ensures the maximum flexibility to choose the best possible solution.

Furthermore we are working closely with global foundries and jointly optimize models and libraries (down to transistor level) that will lead to outstanding products and services. Our design & development capability uses advanced process technologies with a wide range. for example, of 40nm down to 5nm.

Choosing the right technology ensures the best combination of performance, high integration, low power with the minimum amount of investment and speed-to-market. Furthermore, utilising our packaging and assembly expertise results in superior performance capabilities and smaller footprints compared to other standard solutions available on the market.

Additional benefits are being able to choose between the best fitting process technologies, having optimized circuit design capabilities by using unique skillsets for IC implementation and including in-house software, packaging and testing. This enables Socionext to attain and comply to hard-to-achieve parameters such as low power consumption, high data rate with very low latency runtime, high resolution/dynamic range and small chip size.

From initial customer discussions to spec-in phase, design and development to final production, Socionext ensures that the results are customized and optimized ASIC solutions for customers and partners with high reliability and superior quality standards. All resulting overall in innovative state-of-the-art, highly flexible and cost-effective ASIC/LSI solutions to fully qualified products with a stable supply chain.

Socionext is ready to support the wide range of 5G, and, in the future 6G applications with cutting edge and highly specialized IPs and ASIC solutions.

For 5G – URLLC, MMTC and IoT applications, Socionext has various IPs and chip solutions to support multiple applications driven by this technology. These include dedicated high quality, low power image signal processors, fully qualified digital and mixed-signal graphic (display) controllers or Codec ICs for professional AV equipment or compact solutions. Socionext offers for dedicated IoT communications, wireless LPWA (Low power Wide Area Low cost) chip sets or wired (power line) LSIs for very stable and secure data transmissions supporting home, building, maintenance, process or factory automation as well as smart grid and smart surveillance solutions.

For5G – EMBB with sub 6GHz Bands (5G Primary Band) using higher channel bandwidth, higher data rate and having contiguous spectrum availability, Socionext has IPs and ASIC solutions that are well qualified for. Digital Front End (DFE) or Active Antenna Unit (AAU) applications.

For DFE, a novel, dedicated direct RF architecture with multiband communication could be used. This requires fast, highly efficient A/D converter IPs with a sufficiently large bandwidth to digitize the given frequency band, and a DSP.

Compared to a traditional (heterodyne) solution, the direct RF solution does not require any mixers, amplifiers or filter blocks. This simplifies the system immensely by reducing the number of required components and power consumption, as shown in Figure 1. In addition, the integrated DSP allows for intelligent compensation and optimization techniques and enables flexible bandwidths in a digitally selectable frequency band, which could revolutionize mobile network expansion. A/D converter IPs could use, for example, optimized sampling rates ≥ 32 GSa /s, a resolution of ≥12 bit, and a -3dB BW of ≥7 GHz.

For AAU, a large number of A/D converters can be integrated into an ASIC with low power consumption and size, which is a requirement for the focusing (MIMO beamforming) of signals to mobile units and devices as shown in Figure 2. Massive MIMO antenna arrays with small dual-polarized path antennas would be driven by fully digital transceiver chains.

For 5G – EMBB (e.g. Small Cells) using mmWave Bands (known as 5G Complementary Bands) at high frequencies (>28GHz) but with small wavelength/bandwidth, a highly directive point-to-point beam, with spatial multiplexing, can be used. This allows for less interference and more efficient use of the transmit/receive power which is important due to the high link loss. Socionext offers A /D converter IPs with sampling rates ≥ 2GSa/s, a resolution ≥14Bit, and a -3dB-BW from DC to above 500MHz.

Other Wireless- u. Satellite applications using μWave, or terahertz (THz) transmission links, which are seen as supporting technologies for high-speed extensions of wireless communication networks, can also benefit from such low power and small sized IP portfolios.

Meeting the latest trends and requirements with Solution SoCs

Dedicated Solution SoCs for 5G applications will play an important role in the successful deployment of future wireless networks and related business opportunities. High-end, optimized ASIC/LSI solutions will be required to comply with the future needs, accommodate for the technology shifts and unleash the huge potential of 5G, and the IoT sector. In order to stay competitive and assure the roll-out of the various technologies in a timely manner, supporting the complete infrastructure and ecosystem, experienced IDMs are mandatory.

Socionext owns patented and optimized circuit, layout and chip (IC) solutions that, with the know-how acquired over many years, enable the customer to successfully market a wide range of new applications including areas that go far beyond 5G mobile network applications.

Socionext strives to work with the customer at every step of the way - from the gathering of ideas, the preliminary specifications through to the final product to ensure that the best possible and competitive overall solution is achieved.

As data traffic and the data rates in mobile networks double every 2 years, the available technologies must follow this trend with ever faster, more efficient and increasingly competitive solutions. This forces network operators, system providers, device manufacturers and chip producers to find new ideas and implement them to enable fast time-to-market. Socionext has responded to these trends and demands by producing innovative, high-performance, energy-efficient and flexible custom ASICs that are state-of-the-art, world leading solutions.