Samsung Electronics, UC Santa Barbara 6G demonstration prototype
SANTA BARBARA, California“As 5G networks are deployed around the world and experience rapid adoption by consumers, Samsung Electronics and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) are already working on next-generation 6G technology. They recently demonstrated an end-to-end 140 GHz wireless link using a fully digital beamforming solution.
New 6G technologies are years away from deployment, but their technical development is important as they could have a major impact on the media and entertainment landscape by delivering lightning-fast wireless services.
The THz band includes a huge amount of available spectrum, which will allow broadband channels with a bandwidth of tens of GHz, noted Samsung and the UCSB. This could potentially provide a way to meet the 6G terabits per second data rate requirement. Maximum data throughput can be 50 times faster than 5G, and live latency could potentially be reduced to a tenth. These enhancements will enable 6G hyper-connectivity services and an ultimate multimedia experience, such as extended reality (XR) and high-fidelity mobile holograms.
At the recent Terahertz Communications Workshop at the IEEE International Communications Conference (ICC 2021), researchers from Samsung Research, Samsung Research America and UCSB showed the potential impact that THz could have on 6G technology from next generation by demonstrating an end-to-end 140 GHz wireless link using a fully digital beamforming solution.
“Samsung has been at the forefront of technological innovation and standardization of 5G and 6G,” said senior vice president Sunghyun Choi, member of the IEEE and head of the Advanced Communication Research Center at Samsung Research . “As we shared in our 6G Vision white paper last year, we believe new spectrum opportunities in the THz spectrum will become a driving force for 6G technology. This demonstration can be an important step in exploring the feasibility of using THz spectrum for 6G wireless communications. “
The end-to-end prototype system the researchers demonstrated consists of a 16-channel phased array transmitter and receiver, driven by Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) RFICs (RFICs) and a baseband unit for processing signals with 2 GHz bandwidth and fast adaptive beamforming, note Samsung and UCSB.
In live testing, the prototype system achieved real-time throughput of 6.2 Gbps over a distance of 15 meters with the capability of adaptive beam steering at the terahertz frequency.
Samsung and UCSB researchers worked closely on the development of the THz phased array module, which is key to the success of the test. The module requires sophisticated packaging technology to enable the use of research test chips in a large scale network module. The precise digital beamforming calibration algorithm, developed by Samsung, allows these modules to achieve high beamforming gain.
“By working with UCSB, we have been able to overcome many technical challenges and develop this new THz proof of concept system to explore use cases and deployment scenarios for 6G,” said the Senior Vice President Charlie Zhang, IEEE Fellow and Head of the Mobility Standards and Innovations Team at Samsung Research America. “Samsung and UCSB researchers will continue to push the boundaries of technology to bring 6G and THz communication closer to reality.”
The UCSB group, led by Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Mark Rodwell, first developed the 140 GHz RFIC transmitter and receiver in 2017, as part of a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States.
“We bring our knowledge of advanced mmWave technologies, in particular the THz spectrum above 100 GHz, focusing on devices and integrated circuits, while Samsung brings its expertise in wireless systems and cellular networks”, Rodwell said.
Samsung released a white paper in July 2020 titled “The Next Hyper-Connected Experience for Everyone” outlining the company’s 6G vision, which is to bring the next hyper-connected experience to all corners of life. To accelerate 6G research, Samsung Research, the advanced R&D center within the finished products business of Samsung Electronics, founded its Advanced Communications Research Center in May 2019.