NXP brings GaN to 5G multi-chip modules

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NXP Semiconductors has announced what is being described as a major industry milestone for 5G energy efficiency with the integration of Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology to its multi-chip module platform.

NXP has become the first compay to announce RF solutions for 5G massive MIMO that combine the high efficiency of GaN with compact multi-chip modules.

By using GaN in multi-chip modules it is possible to significantly reduce energy consumption and NXP has said that it has been able to increase lineup efficiency to 52% at 2.6 GHz - 8 percentage points higher than the company’s previous module generation. NXP also said that it had further improved performance with a proprietary combination of LDMOS and GaN in a single device, delivering 400 MHz of instantaneous bandwidth that makes it possible to design wideband radios with a single power amplifier.

This energy efficiency and wideband performance are now available in the small footprint of NXP’s 5G multi-chip modules. This portfolio will enable RF developers to reduce the size and weight of radio units, helping mobile network operators lower the cost of deploying 5G on cellular towers and rooftops.

In a single package, the modules integrate a multi-stage transmit chain, 50-ohm in/out matching networks and a Doherty combiner and NXP is now adding bias control using its latest SiGe technology. This removes the need for a separate analogue control IC and provides tighter monitoring and optimisation of power amplifier performance.

“NXP has developed a unique technology toolbox dedicated to 5G infrastructure that includes proprietary LDMOS, GaN and SiGe, as well as advanced packaging and RF design IP,” said Paul Hart, executive vice president and general manager of the Radio Power Business Line at NXP. “This enables us to leverage the benefits of each element and combine them in the most optimal way for each use case.”

As with the company's previous module generation, the new devices are pin-to-pin compatible. RF engineers can rapidly scale a single power amplifier design across multiple frequency bands and power levels, reducing design cycle time and accelerating the roll-out of 5G around the globe.