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Raising the Levels of 5G Millimeter-Wave Signals

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Raising the Levels of 5G Millimeter-Wave Signals F ifth-generation (5G) wireless network technology is being touted as the true "next generation" of wireless communications, capable of performance levels far beyond the limits of current Fourth Generation (4G) Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless networks. While 5G wireless networks have not yet been designed or standardized, most global system- level planners agree on the need for more bandwidth to increase data capacity, and much of that additional bandwidth is expected to come from the millimeter- wave frequency range, such as 60 GHz for high-data-rate, short-haul wireless links. The use of millimeter-wave signals has proven quite successful in 77-GHz automotive radars as part of collision-avoidance safety systems, and the large bandwidths available within the millimeter- wave frequency range (30 to 300 GHz) hold the promise of increased network capacity compared to 4G/ LTE which is quickly reaching its limits. Building 5G networks that leverage millimeter-wave bandwidths, however, requires millimeter-wave signals at sufficient signal strength, and that will depend on the availability of practical millimeter-wave power amplifiers (PAs). Designing a millimeter-wave PA is not trivial. Signals at those frequencies are so-named for the fact that their wavelengths are only 1 to 10 mm long. Given the physical connection between frequency, wavelength, and various circuit features needed to support operation at those high frequencies, such as resonators and transmission line structures, design challenges arise from the extreme miniaturization of millimeter-wave circuits and the need to conserve signal power as much as possible by minimizing forward and reflected signal losses. The Promise of 5G Expectations are great for 5G networks, even before the infrastructure has been built (Fig. 1). Earlier- generation wireless/ cellular networks were based on supporting voice communications, although that started to change with 2G and 3G systems. The nature of modern communications has changed, largely due to the influence of the Internet, and has become very data-centric, with network performance 1000× 1000× ~20× ~25× 1× ˗ 2× 3× ˗ 5× 5× ˗ 10× 40× ˗ 50× Last decade Next decade Network Devices Information Technology (IT) for Telecom Air Interface Spectrum • Coordinated Multipoint Tx/Rx • 3D/Full-Dimensional MIMO • New Modulation and/or Coding Schemes • More Licensed and Unlicensed Spectrum, Millimeter-Wave Bands • Licensed Shared Access • Unlicensed Spectrum Sharing • Cell Densification • Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) Offloading • Integrated Multiple Radio Access Technology (RAT) Operation • Device-to-Device • Joint Scheduling, Nonorthogonal Multiple Access • Information and Communication Technology Coupling • Measured in b/s/Hz/m 2 1. The need for bandwidth to transfer large amounts of data through wireless channels makes the use of millimeter-wave frequencies in 5G wireless networks inevitable. (Graphic courtesy of National Instruments) This article examines the design challenges for practical millimeter-wave power amplifiers delivering the neces- sary power, linearity and efficiency for future 5G networks. A Supplement to Microwaves & RF Sponsored by Cadence

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