TowerJazz and UC San Diego Demonstrate Best in Class 5G Mobile Transmit-Receive Chips with Greater than 12 Gbps Data Rates

5G Mobile Transmit-Receive Chips
UC San Diego 32-element 5G 28-31 GHz Tx/Rx Phased Array achieving 1-1.6 Gbps link at 300 meters over all scan angles (+/-50 degrees) Photo credit: UC San Diego / Gabriel M. Rebeiz

TowerJazz, the global specialty foundry leader, and the University of California San Diego, a recognized leader for microwave, millimeter-wave, mixed-signal RFICs, and phased arrays, demonstrate for the first time a greater than 12 Gbps, 5G phased-array chip set.  This chip set demonstrates that products can be fabricated today to meet the emerging 5G telecommunications standards for the next wave of worldwide mobile communications. The chipset operates at 28 to 31 GHz, a new communications band planned for release by the FCC. The chip set uses TowerJazz’s high volume SiGe BiCMOS technology, with record performance at 28 GHz, representing a more than tenfold improvement in data rate vs. 4G LTE, and today meets many other technical specification requirements of the emerging 5G standard.

The 5G transmit and receive chipsets 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 UC San Diego 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 chip sets are already performing at 4G LTE levels.  The 64-QAM link reported today at 12 Gbps, has a less than 5 percent EVM at 30 meters.  The 16 QAM link at 3 Gbps has a less than 12 percent EVM at 300 meters 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 percent at 28 GHz. Also, it offers very low noise transistors resulting in an LNA NF (low noise amplifier noise figure) of 2.4 dB at 28 GHz, high-Q inductors and low-loss transmission-lines for on-chip power distribution,” said Gabriel Rebeiz, distinguished professor and wireless communications industry chair at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, and member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering..

By using TowerJazz’s SiGe BiCMOS technology, UC San Diego’s design team, led by graduate student Kerim Kibaroglu and postdoctoral 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. “We thank TowerJazz for this wonderful process and look forward to continued collaboration,” Rebeiz said.

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 ten times those speeds using UC San Diego’s 5G next-generation mobile designs made with its high volume H3 technology.

”We continue to release additional technology nodes, for example 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 David Howard, Executive Director and TowerJazz Fellow.   “Also, as we add new features to ourSiGe Terabit Platform, we support easy evolution of customer technology. This allows our customers to grow with our technology roadmap as their products and the 5G standards evolve.”

5G Status and Recent Announcements

  • The FCC in July 2016 released plans to provide new frequency spectra to market ahead of agreed upon 5G (fifth generation) wireless standards. This included licensed spectra around 28, 37-40 GHz bands and an unlicensed 64-71 GHz band.
  • Recent reports (Jan 2017) have stated that 5G communications could foster a $12 trillion economy in 2035 (IHS Markit), and in the next 7 years $275 billion in spending on infrastructure could result from 5G implementation 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 up to 1 Gbps.
  • 5G demos are beginning worldwide. Verizon has stated that it will begin pre-trials of 5G in the USA using the 28 GHz band, and will “achieve some level of commercialization” in 2017.
  • A new 5G marketing logo has been released by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a telecommunications standards group.