As the penetration of internet-based services such as video streaming, broadband connections, and the like becomes an increasingly indispensable part of modern life, the demand for advanced network technologies is growing stronger than ever. The dynamic 5G technology is one such concept anticipated to make a significant mark over the coming years. Indeed, it has resulted in the evolution and advancement of several verticals such as 5G chipsets, 5G enterprises, 5G broadcast, and more.
Equipped with faster speed, better bandwidth, and low latency issues, 5G is likely to contribute to the several technological breakthroughs in fields ranging from smartphones and IoT connected devices to smart cities and autonomous cars. Recent years have seen a rapid rise in the early adoption of 5G technology by myriad carriers. According to a report by GSMA, the number of 5G connections across the globe is expected to reach nearly 1.4 billion by 2025, accounting for almost 50% connections in the U.S alone.
An important consideration in the growth of this technology is the establishment of a robust 5G infrastructure. 5G chipsets are an integral part of this infrastructure, which is why several vendors across the technological domain are showing a strong commitment towards developing sophisticated chipset solutions. 5G chipsets refer to a set of electronic elements within integrated 5G circuits, which facilitate the transmission of 5G packets on IoT devices, smartphones, portable hotspots, and even mobile network-equipped notebook PCs.
Chipmakers and vendors have responded in earnest to the burgeoning need for these advanced components. In fact, since the introduction of the first integrated 5G system-on-chip (SoC) with the Samsung Exynos 980 in 2019, the 5G chipsets market has witnessed a slew of sophisticated technologies, designed to cater to high-end markets. In 2020, several other 5G SoCs have been introduced by prominent industry players such as Mediatek, Qualcomm, Huawei, and Samsung, among others.
5G chipset solutions are available in various forms including SoCs (system-on-chips), RFICs (radio frequency ICs), mmWave (millimeter-wave), ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits) and cellular ICs.
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Need for a more robust network infrastructure
With the rapid emergence of IoT and other connected devices in the market, there has been a massive surge in data consumption. Smart technologies such as home automation, autonomous cars, and drones, among others, depend on efficient real-time operation and therefore require very low latency and steady network infrastructure to function at optimum levels.
This, in turn, has triggered the demand for more reliable and high-performance chipset technologies in the modern era. To illustrate, studies suggest that the global data volume will increase nearly tenfold by 2025, to cross over 163 zettabytes, which will thereby lead to an accelerated demand for durable ICs (integrated chips) for data analysis, storage, and processing in the future 5G ecosystem.
Furthermore, advancements in embedded computing technologies, which need high-speed internet connectivity, alongside strategic alliances for the incorporation of this technology to further the communications landscape will present lucrative growth avenues for the 5G chipset industry.
For example, Marvell struck up a collaboration with Nokia, in an effort to develop products focused on 5G infrastructure. The specific objective of this alliance was to assimilate custom components from Marvell with the ReefShark chipsets from Nokia, in order to facilitate 5G multi-radio access technology (RAT).
Early adoption of 5G is also contributing significantly to the growth of IoT technology and associated devices. The flourishing IoT sector, bolstered by strong support from chipmakers, is anticipated to witness a tremendous expansion in market capabilities with novel 5G chipset technologies. This is indicated by several strategic partnerships being undertaken across the tech industry, such as AT&T Inc.’s partnership with Intel Corp. to commercialize IoT data plans and platforms.
Impact of advancements in 5G chipsets on location technology
Location technology is another emerging trend in the current technologically charged industrial landscape. Location technology is not a singular entity. It consists of a network of diverse technologies that are amalgamated to create solutions that can track inventories in logistics applications, deliver location-based services for wireless devices, and provide advanced positioning and geospatial capabilities across various industrial sectors.
These technologies include GPS (Global Positioning System), WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network), RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), GIS (Geographic Information Systems), and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), to name a few. Location technology can include either one of a combination of these technologies to deliver sophisticated tracking or location-based services. New use cases, such as real-time remote control and autonomous driving, have been boosting the requirements for highly accurate positioning information with excellent speed and abundant availability. This has consequently surged the demand for 5G technology that has introduced several enhancements as opposed to its predecessor, bringing in techniques such as A-GNSS, OTDOA, etc., beamforming, etc., in 4G positioning.
One of the most interesting aspects of location technology is its role in the 5G ecosystem. 5G, which is constantly pushing the technological envelope, is a major contributor to the development of advanced techniques aimed at enhancing and expected location technology solutions, which is further surging the demand for 5G chipsets.
5G has a slew of assets to add to increase location awareness. The technology encompasses higher frequencies that subsequently enable higher beamforming resolution. As it continues to be deployed into mmWave frequencies (around 28GHz and more), the airspace will be split into many beams which are fewer degrees apart, leading to an extremely fine accuracy in vertical and horizontal dimensions.
Additionally, given that 5G is a wideband technology, it supports much higher bandwidth that conveniently allows positioning information such as PRS (positioning reference signals) to be exchanged between the gNodeB base station and the device. The fact that 5G beamforming antennas are 2D arrays of antenna elements also enables the technology to identify which vertical beam is being occupied by the user and step into vertical z-axis positioning.
Several industry participants have begun to take targeted steps towards integrating 5G solutions in their location services portfolios. For instance, Verizon and HERE teamed up recently, to study the scope of 5G technology in the development of location and self-driving vehicle technologies. Under the terms of the partnership, Verizon will be able to leverage HERE’s vast range of APIs, SDKs, and data, in an effort to focus on collaborative innovation for use cases related to the solutions connected driving can provide for issues across smart cities, automotive, logistics, and transportation, among other industries.
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