It is exciting to see the industry conversation around 5G growing to a crescendo. This is good because it means we are all thinking about the future! Every so often, I am asked: What is 5G and how it is different than previous generations of wireless standards? There are myriad answers to these questions, but from a technical perspective, there is one very significant difference.
4G, 3G and 2G were wireless innovations focused largely on improving the speed and efficiency of a connection between point A (a cellular network antenna) and point B (your cellphone or other device). 5G is also about faster and more efficient wireless connectivity, but this time, it is also about computing capability.
The industry is looking to 5G to provide the higher data rates (1-20 Gbps), lower latency and capacity needed to enable the Internet of Things (IoT), new service models and immersive user experiences. This will require immense processing and communications power provided by sophisticated silicon solutions. Working in partnership with leading operators, we developed the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform to offer the mobile industry a flexible and high-performance development platform that allows for faster integration and testing of 5G networks and devices.
A Systems Approach
Our new 5G Mobile Trial Platform is designed to provide the flexibility and processing power to meet 5G’s critical requirements. It was created to reflect a system-level approach to 5G development based on input from our partners and our own design thinking. The platform is configurable for use in both wireless access points (infrastructure) and devices. We created the platform along several key vectors:
- System portability – It is small enough to be portable, which helps Intel and its partners better assess 5G technology and propagation challenges in actual usage scenarios.
- Device capability and user experience – It provides a window into understanding what users can do with 5G technology and its high data rate.
- Network architecture – It helps Intel and its partners better understand 5G network requirements.
Ultimately, all these considerations will be important to the creation of a 5G standard.
Flexible Platform Architecture
Designed to provide end-to-end system capability, the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform features 5G innovation in both wireless technology and advanced computing capability. It is comprised of three critical subsystems:
- Baseband signal processor powered by Altera Arria 10 FPGAs, which enables quick updating of the 5G trial platform’s processing layers and the ability to flexibly track the development of 5G air interface technology
- Advanced radio frequency unit supporting operation in sub-6 GHz, cm-wave and mm-wave spectrum bands, as well as two-stream or four-stream MIMO capability
- Communications protocol stack based on the Intel® Core™ i7 processor
These subsystems and the platform’s flexible design allow for:
- Use in a variety of configurations and geo-zones, including operation identified bands and an extensible architecture for other bands
- Massive data capacity through bandwidths ranging from 100-800 MHz
- Support for beam-forming and phase-array operation at cm-wave and mm-wave frequencies
- Support for wideband, multi-stream operation at sub-6 GHz frequencies
- Multi-gigabit symmetric upload/download speeds for next-generation mobile applications
- Data offload support via IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi and WiGig
- Network design for ultra-low latency services and ultra-dense massive MIMO technology, as well as support for single and multi-board modes
- Extension of existing LTE investments through support of LTE-5G dual connectivity
Our 5G Mobile Trial Platform is just one of many Intel efforts to advance 5G. From network and device solutions to IoT technologies, we are creating system-level solutions that reduce complexity and simplify the 5G network transformation so our partners can spend more time doing what they do best: creating exciting new services, devices and mobile experiences.
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