5G: What is the buzz all about?

Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on digg
Share on email

As 4G (LTE Advanced, LTE Advanced Pro along with LTE Classic) continues to penetrate and replace legacy networks, there seems to be an urgency to demonstrate a version of 5G at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and an enhanced version at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The mobile operators will be busy preparing for a roll-out of trial 5G networks, with a few even targeting some level of commercial deployment in 2017.

5G: an all-inclusive network

While the perception is that 5G is all about increasing speeds/data rates – and initially that may be the case – 5G’s mandate is to be a one-stop network for all the market segments, starting from very low-bandwidth and low-power IoT nodes to ultra-high definition immersive experiences. In order to meet these requirements, 5G uses a wide spectrum; from sub-GHz for IoT applications with long range requirements, between 1 and 6 GHz for broadband devices, and above 6 GHz/mmWave for extreme bandwidth over shorter ranges.

To keep it simple, the 5G standards bodies and community have categorised the use cases and applications such that they fit into one of the following three segments:

  • Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) for bandwidth-hungry applications such as high-definition telepresence, telemedicine and remote surgery
  • Massive machine type communications (mMTC) for the fast-growing, high-volume, dense IoT nodes/applications such as smart metering, smart building, smart cities and asset tracking to name a few
  • Ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC) for mission-critical services such as autonomous vehicles, healthcare, industrial automation

5G Requirements

As is expected, the requirements of these three segments vary by their function. Mobile broadband requires higher performance; IoT is all about the lowest power consumption and cost, while the KPIs for mission-critical services are low latency and security.

Let’s talk about some of the key metrics and features that make 5G a reality. These are:

  • Carrier Aggregation and MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output): These two techniques enhance the bit-rates further in LTE Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro. In LTE Advanced, carrier aggregation increases the overall bit-rate by aggregating up to five component carriers of 20 MHz (i.e. a maximum of 100 MHz), while MIMO increases the bit-rate by transmission of two or more different data streams on two or more different antennas. Now, for 5G, a single component carrier can be 100 MHz or higher and with carrier aggregation, the overall capacity increases multi-fold. This, when combined with massive MIMO, is what delivers the 5G promise of multiple gigabits per second.
  • Multi-RAT (Radio Access Technology): 5G will co-exist and interwork with the legacy technologies – 4G/LTE in licensed bands and Wi-Fi in unlicensed bands.
  • Power consumption: While this is important across the segments, it is very critical for IoT segment such as NB-IoT that has the very stringent requirements for long battery life of more than 10 years, with 5-watt hour batteries or 2xAA batteries depending on the traffic and coverage needs in power-save mode (PSM).
  • Latency: This is another feature that is mandatory across each segment. It is fundamental to mission-critical services such as autonomous vehicles, industrial automation and remote surgery where even a millisecond can make a significant difference. While the latencies in LTE were in the range of tens of millisecond ~ 50 msec., the 5G latency requirement is reduced to less than a millisecond, thus enabling these extreme use cases on a cellular network. Latency is also a key feature for other real-time applications such as voice, video calling and telepresence.
  • Reliability and security: This is a key metric, as there’s no scope for any margin of error, particularly for the mission-critical use cases discussed above. These parameters are also important for the success of 5G as cellular networks are penetrating into market segments such as autonomous vehicles, industrial automation and remote surgery.

5G: No one-size-fits-all

There is no one-size-fits-all for these diverse 5G use cases but with its range of cores and features MIPS CPUs that are already shipping in millions of 4G LTE modems are very well geared to address the all-inclusive nature of 5G’s requirements:–

  • MIPS for eMBB: With its support for simultaneous multi-threading technology a MIPS I-Class coherent multi-core is an ideal modem processor for 5G’s high speed enhanced mobile broadband. Carrier aggregation is a perfect candidate for MIPS multi-threading as each thread can be used to maintain the context of a component carrier. Go to our website to learn to find out more about MIPS multi-threading.
  • MIPS for URLCC: Deterministic, low-latency and real-time high-priority interrupt handlers combined with MIPS data and instruction scratch pad RAM meets the ultra-low latency real-time requirements of mission-critical services. MIPS OmniShield and virtualization features support the security, reliability functionality requirements within 5G modems.
  • MIPS for mMTC: MIPS M-Class cores offer all the features required for 5G’s massive-machine type communications, such as ultra-low power, small area, and integrated applications and modem processors. MIPS M-Class cores are also unique in providing full hardware virtualization in an MCU-class core, making them an ideal choice for securing mMTC nodes.


MIPS for 5G


Is the ecosystem ready to take this big leap into 5G? We think so. Multiple mobile operators in the US and Asia, particularly in Seoul and Tokyo, the venues for upcoming Olympic Games, have been taking a step towards a phased 5G launch. Other ecosystem players – modem vendors, infrastructure vendors and others have announced the availability of their respective components.

Similarly, Imagination is ready with our wide range of MIPS cores – a range ideally suited as modem CPUs for all classes of 5G products.

Do you want to get ahead in this 5G race? Drop us a note with your requirements, we have it all covered!

To stay up-to-date with the latest news and updates MIPS then make sure to follow us on Twitter @ImaginationTech@MIPSguru@MIPSdev and on LinkedInFacebook and Google+.

Saraj Mudigonda

Saraj Mudigonda

Saraj Mudigonda is a director of segment marketing at Imagination Technologies. Previously he was a business development manager for Imagination's HelloSoft V.VoIP products. He has 15 years of experience in the telecommunication industry in Wireless LAN, V.VoIP, and Wireless Communications and started his career as a DSP (Digital Signal Processing) engineer developing, implementing, and optimizing the assembly code for several DSP architectures. He also managed multiple V.VoIP customer projects and was the primary liaison between customers and engineering teams.

Please leave a comment below

Comment policy: We love comments and appreciate the time that readers spend to share ideas and give feedback. However, all comments are manually moderated and those deemed to be spam or solely promotional will be deleted. We respect your privacy and will not publish your personal details.

Blog Contact

If you have any enquiries regarding any of our blog posts, please contact:

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1923 260 511

Search by Tag

Search by Author

Related blog articles

b series hero banner 2

IMG B-Series – a multi-core revolution for a new world

B-Series uses multi-core to deliver an incredible 33 core variations for the widest range of options at all levels of performance points. From the smallest IoT cores up to the mid-range desktop equivalent B-Series an outperform mid-range next-gen consoles. Learn more in this blog post.

Read More »
self driving

The long and winding road to autonomous cars

The past has a habit of making promises that the future struggles to keep. By 2001, we were supposed to be encountering black monoliths around the orbit of Saturn, but, in reality, we’re only just getting close to returning to the moon after a 50-year absence. Where we were going, we were supposed not to need roads, but in reality, the only flying cars we have are the ones that took a wrong turn off a cliff because the driver was slavishly looking at the sat nav instead of looking out of the window.   The 1980s, of course, gave us KITT, the four-wheeled, driverless, talking Knight Rider car and with a rumoured film remake in the works, this is still something that fascinates us. Of course, while we can talk at our cars, they don’t yet talk back – but the driverless thing? Well, that is certainly on the cards.

Read More »


Sign up to receive the latest news and product updates from Imagination straight to your inbox.