Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) laid the groundwork for the move to 5G wireless this week, rolling out a transceiver that helps reduce the size, weight and power of future radios.
The AD9375 is said to be the first-ever RF transceiver to incorporate a technology known as digital pre-distortion (DPD), which dramatically reduces power consumption. By doing so, it serves as an enabler for the use of other technologies that could enhance wireless network coverage and capacity.
The AD9375 is said to be the first-ever RF transceiver to incorporate a technology known as digital pre-distortion (DPD), which dramatically reduces power consumption. (Source: Analog Devices, Inc.)
“In order to service the 5G challenge, you need densification in terms of the number of radios,” Peadar Forbes, product marketing manager for wideband transceivers at ADI, told Design News. “With this transceiver, we’re significantly reducing the size, weight and power of the radio, which enables that densification.”
The transceiver, part of ADI’s RadioVerse development platform, was unveiled at IEEE’s IMS 2017 show in Honolulu this week. It could turn out to be significant because it enables wireless product developers to take advantage of two up-and-coming technologies in the vast 5G wireless jigsaw puzzle. Massive MIMO, which calls for a huge increase in the number of antenna elements at base stations, and “small cell” technology, which similarly helps “densify” wireless networks, are seen as keys to meeting the growing consumer demand for greater bandwidth.
The two technologies, however, also present a significant challenge for 5G developers. “Both of them put pressure on the radio’s size, weight and power,” Forbes said. “They’re trying to cram more radios into smaller areas without increasing the size of the boxes.”
That’s where the AD9375 comes in, Forbes said. Because it offers on-board DPD technology, which substantially reduces power consumption, it dissipates less heat and allows for denser packaging of the radios. Hence, massive MIMO and small cell technology emerge as more practical candidates for wireless networks.
To be sure, DPD technology is not new. It’s been used previously in FPGAs and ASICs. But by incorporating it in the transceiver, instead of the FPGA, ADI engineers say they’ve enabled the use high-efficiency power amplifiers, which in turn cut power consumption.
“In order to minimize the size and weight of the box, you need to use those high-efficiency power amplifiers,” Forbes said. “They’re the best way to get the heat out of the box.”
The new transceiver will serve as the backbone of ADI’s RadioVerse platform. That platform, rolled out a year ago, consists of a transceiver surrounded by a design environment that offers board support, software and tools. The package was created in response to developer demand for simpler methodologies, in light of the fact that there are now more than 40 cellular bands worldwide and billions of connected devices. It’s being targeted at wireless applications in aerospace, defense, public safety, test and measurement and cellular base stations.
The need for such simpler solutions is expected to become even greater over the next few years, as the industry migrates to 5G wireless. 5G calls for wireless operators to meet the need for 1,000 times more traffic, up to 100 times more devices, and 0.1 millisecond latencies. It is expected to be in place by about 2020.
With such requirements on the horizon, ADI engineers said the need for a radio of less size, weight and power was obvious. “We saw the densification of radios coming, and we knew this architecture would make sense,” Forbes said.
Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 33 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and autos.