24 June 2021
MaxLinear linearization and Cree GaN-on-SiC PAs combine to efficiently power new ultra-wideband 5G
Radio-frequency (RF), analog, digital and mixed-signal integrated circuit provider MaxLinear Inc of Carlsbad, CA, USA and Cree Inc of Durham, NC, USA say that combining MaxLinear’s ultra-wideband linearization solution (MaxLin) and Cree’s Wolfspeed gallium nitride (GaN) on silicon carbide (SiC) mid-band power amplifiers can increase wireless capacity of a 5G base station, supporting more simultaneous users and increasing the speed of data transmissions.
The use of GaN-on-SiC with effective linearization accelerates the rollout of 5G by enabling significant power, thermal and cost savings through more efficient wireless transmission, say the firms. The power savings from combining Cree’s highly efficient GaN-on-SiC power amplifiers with a highly effective linearization solution implemented by MaxLinear can be hundreds of watts for the massive MIMO radios that 5G demands, it is reckoned.
“Our GaN-on-SiC power amplifiers are designed to achieve high efficiency with extremely wide instantaneous bandwidth in a very small form factor at the newly released 5G spectrum,” says Gerhard Wolf, senior VP & general manager of RF at Cree | Wolfspeed. “Working with MaxLinear’s solution, this technology demonstrates a significant step forward in achieving outstanding linearity performance and will help wireless providers deliver a superior level of performance and service to mobile customers.”
The new solution tackles a substantial industry challenge: implementing radio units with 5G massive MIMO arrays such as 64x64 or 32x32, while maintaining a reasonable size, weight and power. The newer 5G spectrum is at a higher carrier frequency and has wider bandwidths, making it more challenging to achieve high power efficiency for radio units.
“We are solving a substantial challenge of 5G radios,” says Helen Kim, VP of MaxLinear’s Wireless Technologies & IP. “Customers need to find a way to deliver mid-band 5G capacity without a commensurate increase in cost and power. Our wideband, power-efficient linearization solution and our low-power 400MHz transceivers significantly reduce the heat dissipated by massive MIMO arrays, resulting in a substantially slimmer, lower-cost radio solution,” he adds.
Using GaN-on-SiC, MaxLinear’s solution delivers the linearization performance for a 280MHz channel to support US 5G spectrum (3.7-3.98GHz) and a 400MHz channel to support Asian and European 5G mid-band spectrum (3.4-3.8GHz). At 280MHz of instantaneous bandwidth, Cree’s WS1A3940 power amplifier achieves ~50% efficiency for the average output power of 39.5dBm, MaxLinear’s MxL1600 transceiver provides a sampling rate of 983MSPS, and MaxLin improves linearity by >20dB to exceed 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements with margin. Using the Wolfspeed WS1A3640 power amplifier, MaxLin also demonstrates a >20dB linearization improvement at 400MHz of instantaneous bandwidth.
Cree’s WS1A3940 and WS1A3640 GaN-on-SiC power amplifier modules, MaxLinear’s MxL15xx and MxL16xx 400MHz transceivers and MaxLinear’s MaxLin linearization technology are solutions that enable both traditional and Open RAN innovations.