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MaxLinear and Cree work together on 5G PAs


GaN-on-SiC linearisation solution enables 5G base stations to support more high-speed data for mobile users

MaxLinear, a provider of RF, analogue, digital and mixed-signal integrated circuits, and Cree, developer of SiC technology through its Wolfspeed business, have announced breakthrough performance when combining MaxLinear’s ultra-wideband linearisation solution (MaxLin) and Cree’s Wolfspeed GaN on SiC mid-band power amplifiers. The new solution increases wireless capacity of a 5G base station, supporting more simultaneous users and increasing the speed of data transmissions.

The use of GaN on SiC with effective linearisation accelerates the rollout of 5G by enabling significant power, thermal, and cost savings through more efficient wireless transmission. The power savings from combining Cree’s highly efficient GaN on SiC power amplifiers with a highly effective linearisation solution implemented by MaxLinear can be hundreds of watts for the massive MIMO radios that 5G demands.

“Our GaN on SiC power amplifiers are designed to achieve high efficiency with extremely wide instantaneous bandwidth in a very small form factor at the newly released 5G spectrum,” said Gerhard Wolf, senior vice president and general manager of RF at Cree | Wolfspeed. “Working with MaxLinear’s solution, this technology demonstrates a significant step forward in achieving outstanding linearity performance and will help wireless providers deliver a superior level of performance and service to mobile customers.”

The new solution tackles a substantial industry challenge: implementing radio units with 5G massive MIMO arrays such as 64x64 or 32x32, while maintaining a reasonable size, weight, and power. The newer 5G spectrum is at a higher carrier frequency and has wider bandwidths, making it more challenging to achieve high power efficiency for radio units.

“We are solving a substantial challenge of 5G radios,” said Helen Kim, vice president of MaxLinear’s Wireless Technologies & IP. “Customers need to find a way to deliver mid-band 5G capacity without a commensurate increase in cost and power. Our wideband, power-efficient linearisation solution and our low power 400MHz transceivers significantly reduce the heat dissipated by massive MIMO arrays, resulting in a substantially slimmer, lower cost radio solution.”

Using GaN on SiC, MaxLinear’s solution delivers breakthrough linearisation performance for a 280 MHz channel to support US 5G spectrum (3.7-3.98GHz) and a 400 MHz channel to support Asian and European 5G mid-band spectrum (3.4-3.8GHz). At 280MHz of instantaneous bandwidth, Cree’s WS1A3940 power amplifier achieves ~50 percent efficiency for the average output power of 39.5dBm, MaxLinear’s MxL1600 transceiver provides a sampling rate of 983MSPS, and MaxLin improves linearity by >20dB to exceed 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements with margin. Using the Wolfspeed WS1A3640 power amplifier, MaxLin also demonstrates a >20dB linearisation improvement at 400MHz of instantaneous bandwidth.

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