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Xilinx and Samsung Electronics Partner to Deploy 5G Networks

April 23, 2020 by Luke James

Samsung Electronics, in partnership with programmable chip maker Xilinx, have made chips that can serve as the key processing technology behind 5G wireless data networks with plans to deploy commercial solutions worldwide.

To meet the needs of commercial operators, Samsung Electronics is using Xilinx’s chips for worldwide commercial 5G deployments. The chips—Xilinx Versal ACAPs (adaptive compute acceleration platforms)—provide a platform that is universal, flexible and scalable that can address the needs of multiple operators across multiple geographies.

Versal is the industry’s first ACAP platform, a new category of heterogeneous computing devices that feature capabilities that exceed those of conventional CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs. 


Meeting the Diverse Demands of 5G Networks

5G networks have varying speeds and these depend heavily on the engineering choices made by carriers. A single low band tower in the 600 to 700MHz range can cover hundreds of square miles with a 5G service capable of delivering download speeds that go as high as 250 megabits per second.

In contrast, higher band towers (millimeter wave or 24—39GHz) work within smaller radius’, usually one square mile or lower, to deliver download speeds of 1 to 3 gigabits per second. 

5G also requires beamforming, which allows multiple data streams to be simultaneously transferred to multiple users via the same spectrum. However, it requires a lot of power-efficient computing power and high-speed connectivity on- and off-chip to meet 5G’s low-latency requirements—Xilinx’s Versal ACAP is said to offer better compute density at lower power consumption to handle the demand from low-latency beamforming algorithms. 

An ACAP is a platform that can be changed at both hardware and software platforms to dynamically meet the need of a wide range of varying applications. Xilinx’s Versal ACAP architecture features a multi-terabit per-second network-on-chip that integrates all engines and key interfaces, meaning that it can be programmed by developers, engineers, and data scientists. 


Xilinx's versal platform.

A product image detailing the various features and internal components of the Xilinx Versal AI series portfolio


Enhancing 5G Performance by Applying Xilinx's Versal Platform

“Samsung has been working closely with Xilinx, paving the way for enhancing our 5G technical leadership and opening up a new era in 5G,” said Jaeho Jeon, executive vice president and head of R&D, Networks Business, Samsung Electronics. “Taking a step further by applying Xilinx’s new advanced platform to our solutions, we expect to increase 5G performance and accelerate our leadership position in the global market.”

Developed in TSMC’s 7nm process technology, Versal ACAP is said to be the first platform that combines software programmability with dynamically configurable domain-specific hardware acceleration.

Improvements in raw performance are delivered by a mix of next-generation scalar engines for embedded computing, adaptable engines for FPGA silicon programmability, and intelligent engines for AI inference and advanced signal processing. 

“Samsung is a trailblazer when it comes to 5G innovation and we are excited to play an essential role in its 5G commercial deployments,” said Liam Madden, executive vice president, and general manager, Wired and Wireless Group, Xilinx. “Versal ACAPs will provide Samsung with the superior signal processing performance and adaptability needed to deliver an exceptional 5G experience to its customers now and into the future.”

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