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Talking Sense with Moortec…5G, Hyperscaling and the Resurgence of Consumer Silicon

October 05, 2020, anysilicon

At the recent TSMC OIP Ecosystem Forum and Technology virtual events, TSMC re-affirmed their previous prediction that 5G is going to be a multi-year silicon mega-trend with the biggest drivers being the ramp up of 5G handsets, supporting infrastructure and the continued growth of high performance computing (HPC).

 

We all want the luxury of live streaming, whether it be a concert or sports event, playing the latest games or watching HD movies on our phone, but what is it that actually allows 5G ASIC designers to deliver this enhanced level of user experience? Today’s Semiconductor advanced node technology really is the beating heart of 5G network technology.  Powering network base stations, cars, smartphones, and other connected devices, but 5G also plays an integral part of a much bigger technology phenomenon…Hyperscaling.

 

5G infrastructure is extremely power hungry and generally requires ~3 times the number of base stations compared to older technologies such as LTE, due to the higher frequencies involved. Moortec is already working with customers in the 5G space to help address some of these infrastructure power issues.

 

5G Silicon Challenges

 

5G enabled devices such as handsets, tablets and wearables have certainly helped revitalize the consumer electronics space as they have moved from typically planar nodes down to FinFET process technologies like 5nm.

 

This step change does however present designers with specific challenges, one of the biggest being increased thermal activity associated with the data intensive workloads associated with the system​. Battery life can also be an issue when running 5G and associated applications like video, and gaming etc. If the thermal conditions are not carefully monitored and controlled, handsets may either switch to a lower power 4G mode or even turn off altogether. As a user why do I care? Well, apart from the handset becoming noticeably warmer to the touch, your video download will take longer or freeze and your phone will need recharging more frequently as the battery will drain faster.

 

A 5G small cell can be operational for over a decade in potentially hostile environments, without any forced air cooling and as such it is particularly important to be able monitor them remotely in the field.

 

Moore’s Law

 

In the last instalment of the Moortec ‘Talking Sense’ blog my colleague Tim Penhale-Jones talked about the impact that Moore’s law and Dennard Scaling have had on the advanced node semiconductor sector. For some time, we have been cramming ever increasing amounts of processing power into each 1mm2 of silicon and this has enabled the 5G technology that we see emerging today. However, the pressure continues to Miniaturize (device size), Maximise (power & performance) and Optimize (reliability & battery life) and in order to continue to do this successfully it is critically important to understand the dynamic conditions within the device itself.

 

Benefits of In-Chip Monitoring for 5G Devices

 

By implementing highly configurable, real time embedded sensing fabrics, chip designers can address some of the challenges associated with overheating, reduced data throughput and diminished battery life. This enhances the overall user experience in consumer products like 5G handsets and increases the performance optimization and reliability of infrastructure devices in the field.

 

To find out how Moortec’s in-chip monitoring technologies and sensing fabrics could benefit your next advanced node 5G project contact us today.

 

In case you missed any of Moortec’s previous “Talking Sense” blogs, you can catch up HERE.

 

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This is a guest blog By Ramsay Allen, Marketing Manager, Moortec

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