Picocom introduces system-on-chip for 5G small cell Open RAN radio units

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Picocom, the 5G Open RAN baseband semiconductor and software specialist, has launched the PC805, a new system-on-chip (SoC) that’s been optimised for 5G small cell Open RAN radio units (O-RUs).

Highly integrated, with a small-footprint, this low-power SoC is designed to ease the implementation of 5G NR/LTE small cell O-RUs to support a variety of deployment use cases. These include enterprise, industrial, neutral host and private networks.

The PC805 makes designing an O-RU much simpler and delivers a significantly reduced bill of materials compared to current designs. The SoC interfaces directly with O-DUs via Open Fronthaul (split 7.2) and supports seamless connections to RFICs with a standardised JESD204B high-speed serial interface. The PC805 is shipped with a fully integrated O-RAN compliant Picocom 5G NR RU and M-plane software suite.

Commenting Peter Claydon, President of Picocom, said, “Most existing O-RU products are based on FPGA technology, necessitating a hardware redesign approach to address different use cases. Unlocking these new opportunities requires a more focused approach, where new use cases can be accommodated with simple software changes. The PC805 will empower a new era of small cell deployments, answering the increasing calls from customers for more carrier aggregation and flexible spectrum utilisation.”

Oliver Davies, VP of Marketing at Picocom, added, “As 5G deployments progress, operators want to aggregate spectrum from different bands. This is especially true for neutral host operators, who often need to support the frequency allocations of several mobile operators or aggregate non-contiguous channels in shared spectrum. PC805 supports these use cases with a minimum of additional components, greatly reducing both capital and operating costs.”

The PC805 can perform aggregation of four or more 4T4R carriers in a 200 MHz instantaneous bandwidth (IBW), applicable for operation in the US CBRS and equivalent bands that are increasingly becoming available in other countries (for example, UK band n77 shared access band). A single PC805 can also support multiple bands, including both TDD and FDD for both 5G NR and LTE, with a cascade of two SoCs doubling the bandwidth supported.

Peter Jarich, Head of GSMA Intelligence, noted, “Our research shows that operators see Open RAN as a strategic priority, with 5G – and 5G-Advanced - acting as a trigger for rethinking how networks are built. Optimised and readily available silicon is critical for the success of Open RAN, with a diverse set of sources being best for the industry. It’s good to see companies delivering optimised silicon for small cells, which are particularly important for neutral host and private network deployments along with network densification exercises.”

The PC805 launches with a complete software suite and a companion RU Demonstrator Board, the PC805RDB, to ease development and accelerate time-to-market.

The PC805RDB is a flexible 5G NR/LTE Radio Unit board used to demonstrate the PC805 SoC with an onboard RF transceiver, front-end and associated support circuitry, and software. The PC805RDB integrates a Texas Instruments (TI) AFE7769D 4T4R RFIC, complete with an RF front end, based on an iCana demonstrator design.

The PC805 is available in a 17mm x 17mm FC LFBGA Flip-Chip Ball Grid form factor, and Picocom will provide samples to lead customers from November 2023.