Intel is pushing the envelope on 5G with the release of a modem and transceiver that the company says will be available for sampling later this year. The company announced the new 5G modem in advance of the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show this week, where 5G will likely be a hot topic of discussion.
Intel’s 5G modem, code-named Goldridge, will work in the 28 GHz millimeter (mmWave) spectrum as well as the sub-6 GHz spectrum range. Intel says it will support the 3GPP 5G new radio (NR) specification. Features include low-latency frame structure, advanced channel coding, massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) antenna structure, and beamforming.
The company says Goldridge modems will begin sampling in the second half of the year.
Rob Topol, manager of 5G business and technology at Intel, says that even though the final 5G standards are not expected until 2020, the company is working with several companies like Verizon and KT, which have released early specifications for their planned 5G networks to help vendors with pre-standard testing and fabrication. “Our modem is incorporating as much of the 3GPP NR radio requirements as possible,” Topol says. “We want convergence of 5G under the 3GPP standards. We are an active player, and we want convergence.”
Topol added that while 3GPP Release 15, which is the first release of the 5G standard, won’t be available until the second half of 2018, the company knows that some of those radio requirements such as low-latency channel coding, massive MIMO, and beamforming will be incorporated into the standard. “We are leaving room for flexibility in the design,” he added. “If there are adjustments in channel coding, we can make it in the design.”
Intel also is about to sample a 5G transceiver, codenamed Monumental Summit, that supports both the sub-6 GHz and the 28 GHz mmWave spectrum. The transceiver has up to 800 MHz in bandwidth and support massive MIMO and dual-polarization.
Topol emphasizes that Intel kept the evolving 5G standards in mind when developing the chipset and modem. “We put plenty of strategy and thought in setting up the architecture,” he says. “A device with Goldridge will support speeds above 5 GHz in a modem or small form factor.” However, he added that 5G is not necessarily expected to be a big handset play. “In a lot of ways 5G will be the post-smartphone era. It will be about the other connected devices,” he said.
Intel isn’t alone. Qualcomm last October announced that it also would have the Snapdragon X50 5G modem available in the second half of this year. The X50 is also built on the 3GPP NR 5G standard. Qualcomm also said the modem will support speeds of up to 5 Gb/s and will be available in the 28 GHz mmWave band.