Xilinx, Texas Instruments team on energy-efficient 5G radio chips

Nov. 20, 2020
By combining Xilinx's Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC family and adaptable RF IP with the AFE7769 quad-channel RF transceiver from TI, device developers will be better able address the opex and capex concerns of large operators and private networks.

Xilinx (NASDAQ: XLNX) on Nov. 18 announced a collaboration with Texas Instruments (TI) to develop scalable and adaptable digital front-end (DFE) chip solutions to increase the energy efficiency of lower antenna count 5G radios.

The new chipscale platforms will leverage Xilinx's adaptable IP technology to enhance the RF performance and improve the power efficiency of indoor and outdoor radio applications. By combining Xilinx's Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC family and adaptable RF IP with the AFE7769 quad-channel RF transceiver from TI, device developers will better be able address the opex and capex concerns of large operators and private networks, the companies say. 

“Critical to the success of the radio platform is the efficiency and performance of the RF power amplifier (PA),” explains Liam Madden, executive vice president and general manager, Wired and Wireless Group at Xilinx. "Even for low-power small cell applications, the PA consumes over 50% of the power of a typical next-generation radio, and is therefore key to driving the opex and capex. A scalable and adaptable DFE solution that can address current and future PA efficiency needs is key for the advancement of 5G platforms.”

As emphasized by the partners:

The next generation of LTE and 5G small cells will need to address many new and evolving requirements. This is driving the need for new functionality in the radio due to the need to support wider bandwidths and new use cases including: enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine type communication, and ultra-reliable low-latency communication. Having a radio platform that can adapt and scale to support these new use cases is critical for developers.
Xilinx's Adaptable Digital RF IP includes specialist functionality of Crest Factor Reduction (CFR) and Digital Pre-distortion (DPD). It is the only solution that can support a wide range of radio bandwidths and carrier configurations. Also, by being tightly integrated with the rest of the PHY processing implemented in the Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC device, it can handle the increasingly complex signal dynamics of multi-RAT and 5G waveforms which are challenging for standalone DPD implementations.

The companies note that their PA technology is evolving quickly to address these new radio requirements with broader adoption of GaN and new architectures. Adapting to these new technologies is key to maximizing the efficiency of the PA, they say.

“PA linearity for spectral efficiency and RF power delivery is key to achieving the performance benefits of 5G New Radio systems,” observes Karthik Vasanth, vice president and business unit manager, data converters, at TI. "Wide-bandwidth transceivers like the AFE7769 help to address higher-order PA nonlinearities and enable more efficient power delivery. With this implementation, designers can address the market needs for higher instantaneous bandwidth and antenna counts to support MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) applications while also offering scalability to meet system cost targets.”

To speed development and allow developers to evaluate these solutions Xilinx provides a range of development platforms and tools. The video below presents a demonstration of a small cell 4T4R radio solution that can cover bandwidth requirements up to 200MHz for LTE and 5G NR.

The demonstration is based on the Xilinx ZCU102 Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC evaluation platform, the AFE7769 evaluation module (AFE7769EVM) from Texas Instruments, and 28dBm SKY66318-21 PA from Skyworks.

More information about the companies' technical collaboration can be found in this blog from Xilinx.

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