Intel 5G Wireless to Reach Beyond Smartphones to Smart Things
The internet of things is growing at a rapid pace, consumer products, durable goods, cars and trucks, industrial and utility components, sensors and everyday objects like refrigerators, showers or cruise ships are being combined with Internet connectivity and tons of data analytic capabilities. This is going to change the way we work live and play. There will be a time when it will be difficult for wireless data networks to handle such large amount of data generated from the connected devices. To cope with the growing volumes of data Tech companies wish to upgrade to 5G wireless, which is a fifth-generation mobile network that can transmit data at gigabits per second. Mobile networks today transmit single digit megabits per second on our smartphones.
Recently concluded CES 2017 Rob Topol, General Manager of Intel’s 5G business and technology made the company’s intention to be a big player in the 5G wireless business. Here Intel introduces its 5G modem chip which will enable to connect tons of smart devices like cars, drones, robots, collaborative augmented reality glasses — to transmit data at fast speeds in the future.When questioned by media about his role as a General Manager of Intel’s 5G business and technology he said
I’ve been in this position just the past couple of years. I’ve spent 17 years at Intel. I started in manufacturing, moved through SOC design, up into wireless the past several years. As we’ve started to form our 5G business activities—this is a fairly new position, managing 5G wireless business and technology. My role is to work on the device side to ensure any of the prototypes, test beds, use case work we do is enabling all the verticals we have planned for 5G.
Further went on to say
This isn’t just about a handset. In fact, we frequently say that 5G is the post-smartphone era. It’ll be more about the other businesses than it’s about handsets. Handsets will just be a part of it. There will be drones, connected homes, collaborative AR, other use cases that not only need but will benefit from 5G. My job is to make sure the prototypes are there, that we have the right test beds and partnerships in place to build this.”
What is 5G?
When asked about an announcement he made a couple of days ago Topol said –
We had essentially two related to 5G. For the past year, we’ve built mobile trial platforms. We built 5G prototypes that we demonstrated a year ago at Mobile World Congress. You can start to utilize three, four, five gigabits per second in data rate and test different use cases with that.
What we announced here at CES, one thing is the Intel Go platform, an end-to-end solution for working with automotive OEMs on autonomous driving. We put a 5G FPGA-based modem in that platform that can now test any sort of—wherever there’s 5G spectrum available, you can test those use cases using upwards of seven gigabits per second. Whether it’s HD map downloads or over-the-air updates to the car or media content, whatever use cases, it’s ready next month for use in cars to develop that.
The second announcement was our first-generation global 5G modem. Taking what we’ve building in FPGA prototypes, putting it into an ASIC with a transceiver and a base band modem. What I was showing just a minute ago, this is the transceiver we announced. This supports both sub-six-Ghz and millimeter-wave frequencies. The transceiver is ready now, as well as our millimeter-wave antenna arrays.
The base band itself we’ll start to sample in the first half of this year. The reason it’s a few months behind is because cellular is based on standards. We want to make sure we incorporate as much of the next-generation new radio technologies into that solution. Think of it as being in the oven, just waiting for the last set of features to get in there for release.
You’ll see a full chip kit solution by Intel in the second half of this year. With the car, you can put something in the trunk now, but then you can put something into a more mobile form factor. If you want to test it in a smaller mobile device, in an airborne drone, in a tetherless headset for AR and VR, it opens up all of those opportunities.
When media asked question saying 5G sounds very promising. I remember so many other transitions, though. 4G was supposed to bring great things, but Verizon charged us very high rates for data, and then we had to switch to T-Mobile, which had poor voice connections. It seems like there are all these tradeoffs when a new wireless data tech is introduced. Everybody soaks up the capacity and it’s not enough again.
Topol answered saying
First of all, you hear a lot about 5G from a cellular standpoint, as cellular technology. But 5G will also see advancements in Wi-Fi and Wi-gig. If you think about those solutions, all of them will be brought to new standards. They’ll evolve. As much as you’ll see cellular business models, subscription models, you’ll see multi-gigabit unlicensed spectrum data availability as well. Those business models will evolve.
We’re building prototypes for both licensed and unlicensed technologies. You’re just seeing a lot of early advances in cellular because much of the network deployment and infrastructure—that work happens years before commercialization. The early movers are the network operators and infrastructure providers, building the foundation. Typically you see the unlicensed technologies come in and complement that along the way.
We see 5G as a balanced situation. You’ll see certain verticals that move directly to a subscription cellular-based model, but you’ll see others that rely on unlicensed technology, especially when you’re talking about multi-gigabit data rates. When you talk about an autonomous vehicle that’ll have thousands of gigabits of data generated by the machine learning onboard and transmitting over a network, it’ll force changes in those models. Not only in the way the network is monetized but think of—in 5G there will also be machine-to-machine communication. 5G won’t just be about broadband. Removing some of that congestion from the network and allowing car-to-car communication, car-to-infrastructure, drone-to-infrastructure—that should help with a lot of the efficiency and congestion in the network.