Bringing GaN to 5G multi-chip modules for energy-efficient mobile networks

NXP Semiconductors has announced a major industry milestone for 5G energy efficiency by integrating GaN technology into its multi-chip module platform. The company claims to be the first to announce RF solutions for 5G massive MIMO that consolidate the high efficiency of GaN with the compactness of multi-chip Modules.

Decreasing energy consumption is a primary goal for telecom infrastructure, where every point of efficiency counts. The usage of GaN in multi-chip modules increases lineup efficiency to 52% at 2.6GHz — 8% higher than the company’s previous module generation. It has further developed performance with a proprietary combination of LDMOS and GaN in a single device, giving 400MHz of instantaneous bandwidth that makes it feasible to design wideband radios with a single power amplifier.

This energy efficiency and wideband performance are now offered in the small footprint of its 5G multi-chip modules. The new portfolio will allow RF developers to decrease the size and weight of radio units, assisting mobile network operators in lowering the cost of deploying 5G on cellular towers and rooftops. In a single package, the modules combine a multi-stage transmit chain, 50-Ohm in/out matching networks and a Doherty combiner — and it is now adding bias control utilising its latest SiGe technology. This new step in integration eliminates the need for a separate analog control IC and gives tighter monitoring and optimisation 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,” said Paul Hart, executive vice president and general manager of the Radio Power Business Line at NXP. “This enables us to leverage the benefits of each element and combine them in the most optimal way for each use case.”

The new 5G multi-chip modules will sample in Q3, with production starting later in 2021. The devices will be supported by its new RapidRF series of RF front-end board designs that help speed the design of 5G systems.