Xilinx has introduced the Zynq RFSoC DFE, a new class of adaptive radio platforms that have been designed to meet the evolving standards of 5G NR wireless applications.

The Zynq RFSoC DFE combines hardened digital front-end (DFE) blocks and adaptable logic to build high performance, low power, and cost-effective 5G NR radio solutions for a broad array of use cases ranging across 5G low-, mid-, and high- band spectrum. It has been designed to provide a balance of technologies between the cost economies of an ASIC using hardened blocks and the flexibility, scalability, and time-to-market benefits of a programmable and adaptive SoC.

5G radio requires solutions that meet bandwidth, power, and cost challenges for widespread deployment, but which also have to adapt to the three key 5G use cases: enhanced Mobile Broadband, massive Machine Type Communication, and Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication. In addition, solutions must scale for evolving 5G standards such as OpenRAN (O-RAN) as well as disruptive 5G business models. The Zynq RFSoC DFE integrates hardened DFE application-specific blocks for 5G NR performance and power savings while also offering the flexibility to integrate programmable adaptive logic to enable a futureproof solution for evolving 5G 3GPP and O-RAN radio architectures.

"For the first time, Xilinx is providing a wireless radio platform with more hardened application-specific IP than adaptive logic to address low power and low cost 5G requirements,” said Liam Madden, executive vice president and general manager, Wired and Wireless Group at Xilinx. “With the market needs around 5G evolving, integrated RF solutions need to be adaptable to address future standards. Zynq RFSoC DFE provides the optimal balance between that adaptability and fixed function IP.”

Zynq RFSoC DFE offers 2X performance-per-watt compared to its prior generation and scales from small cell to massive MIMO macro-cells. The solution is the industry’s only direct RF platform that enables carrier aggregation/sharing, multi-mode, multi-band 400MHz instantaneous bandwidth in all FR1 bands, and emerging bands up to 7.125GHz. When used as a millimeter wave intermediate frequency transceiver, it provides up to 1,600MHz of instantaneous bandwidth.

The Zynq RFSoC DFE is architected in such a way that customers can bypass or customise the hard IP blocks. For example, customers can leverage Xilinx’s field-proven DPD that supports existing and emerging GaN power amplifiers or insert their own unique DPD IP.

Design documentation and support is available to early access customers, with shipments expected during the first half of 2021.