28 June 2021
NXP incorporates GaN in MCMs to boost efficiency in 5G mobile infrastructure
NXP Semiconductors N.V. of Eindhoven, The Netherlands has announced what it reckons is a milestone for 5G energy efficiency with the integration of gallium nitride (GaN) technology to its multi-chip module platform. Building on its investment in its GaN fab in Arizona, which is dedicated to RF power amplifiers, NXP claims to be first to announce RF solutions for 5G massive MIMO that combine the high efficiency of GaN with the compactness of multi-chip modules.
Reducing energy consumption is a major goal for telecom infrastructure. The use of GaN in multi-chip modules increases lineup efficiency to 52% at 2.6GHz — 8 percentage points higher than the firm’s prior module generation. Also, NXP has further improved performance with a proprietary combination of silicon-based LDMOS and GaN in a single device, delivering 400MHz of instantaneous bandwidth that makes it possible to design wideband radios with a single power amplifier.
This energy efficiency and wideband performance are now available in the small footprint of NXP’s 5G multi-chip modules. NXP says that the new portfolio can enable RF developers to reduce the size and weight of radio units, helping mobile network operators to lower the cost of deploying 5G on cellular towers and rooftops. In a single package, the modules integrate a multi-stage transmit chain, 50Ω in/out matching networks and a Doherty combiner — and NXP is now adding bias control using its latest silicon germanium (SiGe) technology. This new step in integration removes the need for a separate analog control IC and provides tighter monitoring and optimization of power amplifier performance.
“NXP has developed a unique technology toolbox dedicated to 5G infrastructure that includes proprietary LDMOS, GaN and SiGe, as well as advanced packaging and RF design IP,” says Paul Hart, executive VP & general manager of NXP’s Radio Power business line. “This enables us to leverage the benefits of each element and combine them in the most optimal way for each use case.”
Like the previous module generation, the new devices are pin-to-pin compatible. RF engineers can rapidly scale a single power amplifier design across multiple frequency bands and power levels, reducing design cycle time and accelerating the roll-out of 5G around the globe, says the firm.
The new 5G multi-chip modules will sample in third-quarter 2021, with production starting later this year. The devices will be supported by NXP’s new RapidRF series of RF front-end board designs that help to accelerate the design of 5G systems.