Intel unveils 5G modem suite

Intel has announced its XMM 8000-series 5G NR modem suite, with the first modem to be available commercially in mid-2019, while also saying it has enabled 5G calls over its Gold Ridge 5G modem unveiled at CES 2017.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Intel's 5G and LTE roadmap

(Image: Intel Corporation)

Intel has unveiled its 5G New Radio (5G NR) modem suite, the XMM 8000 series, with the first modem to be made commercially available in mid-2019.

The XMM 8060 will have multi-modal functionality, meaning it will support non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) configurations for 5G; millimetre-wave (mmWave) and sub-6GHz spectrum bands; and legacy mobile networks.

"Initially, when 5G networks are deployed worldwide, many of the networks will start with non-standalone configuration -- although some operators may choose to start with standalone -- and eventually migrate to standalone. It's important for a commercial device from day one to support both network configurations," Chenwei Yan, ‎VP and GM of Connected Products at Intel Client Computing Group, explained in a call with media.

"The second element to the multi-mode story is that we support in addition to 5G the various 2G, 3G, and 4G legacy air interface modes. And this is significant because for operators, from day one at least, there won't be ubiquitous 5G coverage, and in places where 5G coverage is not available, the device still has to work."

Also announced by Intel was that it is now able to make 5G calls over the 5G modem it announced at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017, codenamed Gold Ridge, using the 28GHz spectrum band.

"The Intel 5G modem that we announced earlier this year, the chipset is up and running in our labs, we've been using it for testing purposes and we've made successful calls over 5G now with this chipset over 28GHz," Alex Quach, VP of Network Platforms Group and GM of Intel's 5G Strategy and Program Office, said.

The CES modem was the first to support mmWave and sub-6GHz spectrum bands, incorporating Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), beam-forming technology, and advanced channel coding, supporting speeds of over 5Gbps and ultra low latency.


Intel's Gold Ridge 5G modem

(Image: Intel Corporation)

The modem also integrates with Intel's 28GHz 5G Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit (RFIC), as well as its 4G XMM 7360 LTE modem for 4G/5G interworking.

Intel also used the call to announce its XMM 7660 Modem for 4G/LTE, which it said supports beyond gigabit speeds using MIMO and carrier aggregation, while also revealing that its previous-generation 7560 modem is now attaining 1Gbps speeds.

"We're announcing the next-generation Intel LTE chipset, the XMM 7660 model, and it supports speeds of up to 1.6Gbps. That chipset is also available in 2019," Quach said.

"The Intel XMM 7560 modem, the one that we announced at Mobile World Congress this year ... is now achieving gigabit-plus speeds."

According to Quach, Intel's play in advanced mobility standards and 5G extends beyond its modems, however.

"5G is so much more than just a faster modem or a new air interface. Modems are important, but they're just one piece of the 5G solution. Just like 5G needs a new modem, 5G also needs a new network," he told media.

"There is already transformation happening in this network ... Intel doesn't just play in the modem space. We're not just interested in delivering leadership modems, we are also a key player in the network infrastructure space, from the radio access network into the core network, into the cloud, and we're working with major service providers around the world, whether it be in Korea, in China, and elsewhere, to transform these networks so that these networks become more flexible, much more efficient, and more intelligent to support 5G."

Last week, Intel announced that a 5G trial with NTT DoCoMo, Ericsson, Denso, and Toyota attained speeds of 1Gbps/600Mbps for 4K video streaming in a connected vehicle travelling at 30km/h using Intel's Go 5G Automotive Platform and on-board antenna head.

"This accomplishment marks the first 5G multi-vendor interoperability trial involving a device connected to a base station in an automotive environment," the companies said.

Intel last month also announced that it will be providing its 5G mobile trial platform for the 5G network being deployed by Korea Telecom (KT) for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games. Under the agreement, it will also provide its processors to power edge and core computing capabilities, as well as its 5G technologies including FlexRAN.

Intel's third-generation 5G Mobile Trial Platform was unveiled in September, following its first 5G trial platform in February 2016. The first platform had supported sub-6GHz and mmWave spectrum, with its second-generation platform integrating 4x4 MIMO launched a year ago.

The new platform allows for device development by supporting initial 5G NR specifications in live tests with partners by the end of this year, which will then be developed alongside 3GPP standards. It is powered by Intel's field-programmable gate array (FGPA) circuits and Core i7 processors.

At launch, it will support 3GPP NR early interoperability; the 600-900MHz, 3.3-4.2GHz, 4.4-4.9GHz, 5.1-5.9GHz, 28GHz, and 39GHz spectrum bands; and a mobile interoperability solution for end-to-end 5G field testing.

Intel has previously worked with KT and with SK Telecom on 5G mobile device and network developments and verification, including a modem that supports 5G, concepts for anchor-booster cell and Massive MIMO, solutions for Licensed Assisted Access (LAA), virtual network platforms, and joint standardisation.

In the US, AT&T is using Intel's 5G mobile trial platform in its Indiana, Texas, and Michigan trials, while Verizon relies on Intel for its 11 pre-commercial 5G trial networks. The Verizon trials have also been used for testing interoperability and mmWave spectrum.

Intel has additionally developed a mini Cloud-RAN concept with China Mobile; conducted 5G handset chipset trials with NTT DoCoMo; worked on 5G use cases with Telstra; developed use cases for 5G devices and architectures with Deutsche Telekom; tested 5G devices and technologies using Telefonica's NFV Reference lab and open research lab 5Tonic; and used Vodafone's innovation labs in the UK to test hardware and software and conduct 5G trials on Vodafone's global radio and core networks.

Intel has additionally been partnering with networking companies worldwide, collaborating with Ericsson on 5G, cloud, and IoT trials, as well as interoperability across 3.5GHz; Nokia on pre-standard 5G radio technologies, networking solutions, and interoperability; and Huawei on 5G NR, cloud, and network function virtualisation (NFV) solutions.

Intel has also worked with Cisco on developing and trialling a 5G router; ZTE on developing a 5G network slicing prototype for China Mobile utilising Intel Xeon processors; and LG Electronics on developing and trialling 5G telematics technology for automotive applications.

Intel said on Wednesday that it worked on more than 160 NFV deployments during 2017.

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