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Mitsubishi Develops Tiny GaN Module For 5G Basestations

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GaN power amplifier module combines 6mm-by-10mm size and 43 percent power efficiency

Mitsubishi Electric has developed a new technology to realise a GaN power amplifier module for 5G basestations that offers a combination of compact (6mm by 10mm) footprint and extra-high power-efficiency, the latter exceeding 43 percent.

The module, which uses a minimum number of chip components in the matching circuit to control high-quality signal output, is expected to help realise 5G base-stations that are widely deployable and highly power efficient. Technical details of the new module will be presented at the IEEE International Microwave Symposium this coming August.

High-density mounting technology eliminates the need for transmission lines

In 4G base-stations, which do not use massive Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output (mMIMO) antennas, power amplifiers use metal-foil transmission lines for the matching circuit. While this lowers power loss, resulting in high-efficiency operation, transmission lines take up space and make it difficult to realise base stations that are both extra small and extra power efficient. Mitsubishi Electric says its new technology eliminates the need for transmission lines in 5G power amplifiers.

The new amplifier module's matching circuit is integrated with surface mount devices (SMDs), such as capacitors and inductors. By introducing a highly accurate electromagnetic field analysis method and applying a unique technology for the dense arrangement of SMDs, Mitsubishi Electric was able to reduce the amplifier's size to just one-ninetieth that of conventional power amplifiers.

Power efficiency reduces 5G base-station power consumption

Using SMDs for the matching circuit can reduce the amplifier's size but also can decrease power efficiency because SMDs tend to have high power loss. Mitsubishi says its new technology, however, creates a matching circuit using a small number of SMDs. Furthermore, the SMDs offer the same electrical characteristics as those of metal-foil transmission lines. The resulting power amplifier module achieves a power efficiency rating of more than 43 percent in the 3.4-3.8GHz bands used for 5G communications.

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