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Will the millimeter wave chip be the next 6G trend?

Recently, Huawei's first millimeter wave AI supersensitive sensor has been officially unveiled, and it is said that Apple's self-developed millimeter wave radio frequency RF chip has also been designed, code-named Turaco. MediaTek and telecom leader Chunghwa Telecom announced o

The millimeter wave chip will never be absent.

 

Recently, Huawei's first millimeter wave AI supersensitive sensor has been officially unveiled, and it is said that Apple's self-developed millimeter wave radio frequency RF chip has also been designed, code-named Turaco. MediaTek and telecom leader Chunghwa Telecom announced on the 7th that they will work together to create a test environment for 5G millimeter wave chips at MediaTek's R D headquarters in Hsinchu.

 

Because millimeter wave has three advantages of high transmission rate, large working bandwidth and wide space to be used, it can better meet the performance requirements of emerging fields such as AR, VR, intelligent things system and so on. The major manufacturers began to focus on the research of millimeter wave chips.

 

What is a millimeter wave chip?

 

Millimeter wave refers to the electromagnetic wave whose frequency is between 30GHz-300GHz, which is named because its wavelength is in millimeter level. Compared with the lower 6GHz band, the millimeter wave band has rich spectrum resources and has great advantages in carrier bandwidth. it can achieve large bandwidth transmission of 400MHz and 800MHz, and achieve ultra-high-speed data transmission through co-construction and sharing among different operators. At the same time, the millimeter wave length and the required components are small, which is convenient for the integration and miniaturization of equipment products, which meets the mainstream needs of the current terminal market.

 

Millimeter wave chip is an IC device which can transmit and receive signals in millimeter wave band. Because the millimeter wave phased array chip integrates millimeter wave technology and phased array principle, the technology is difficult, so it is mainly used in the military field in the past. Thanks to the rapid iteration of 5G and 6G communications, millimeter wave has been able to open up the civilian market and become a major development direction of the global communications industry. Yole estimates that the market value of AiP and millimeter wave front-end modules will reach $2.7 billion by 2026.

 

Traditional millimeter wave monolithic integrated circuits mainly use compound semiconductor technology, such as gallium arsenide (GaAs), indium phosphide (InP), etc., which has good performance in millimeter wave band and is the mainstream integrated circuit process in this band. On the other hand, silicon-based (CMOS, SiGe, etc.) millimeter wave submillimeter wave integrated circuits have also made great progress in the past decade.

 

GaAs and InP millimeter wave chips

 

InP material has the characteristics of high electron mobility and high drift rate, so it is the main choice to realize the stable operation of millimeter wave circuits and terahertz electronic devices. With the characteristics of high frequency, low noise, high efficiency and anti-radiation, InP-based devices have become the preferred material for W-band and higher frequency millimeter wave circuits.

 

Compound semiconductor devices represented by GaAs have obvious advantages in high frequency, high speed, high bandwidth and microwave millimeter wave integrated circuits. At present, the compound semiconductor high-frequency devices and circuit technology represented by gallium arsenide (GaAs) has entered a mature stage and has been widely used in the field of high-frequency communication, especially in the field of mobile communication and optical fiber communication.

 

The millimeter wave 5GPA made by the second generation semiconductor GaAs and InP is better than that made by silicon-based CMOS and can be integrated into RF modules for mobile devices and 5G small batteries.

 

GaN millimeter wave chip

 

Gallium nitride (GaN), as the representative of the third generation wide band gap semiconductors, has the advantages of large band gap, high electron mobility and high dielectric strength, so it can be widely used in cutting-edge military equipment and civil communication base stations in microwave and millimeter wave band.

 

By 2026, in the 5G millimeter wave RFIC market, RF transceivers and RFFE may reach $10.4 billion and $23.5 billion TAM, respectively.

 

The Japanese Eudyna company reported that the GaN power device with 0.15nm gate length reaches 13.7W/mm at 30GHz power output density. HRL in the United States has reported a number of E-band, W-band and G-band GaN-based devices. The power density of W-band exceeds that of 2W/mm, and the power density of 180GHz reaches 296mW/mm.

 

Silicon-based millimeter wave chip

 

Due to the huge advantages of silicon technology in cost and integration, the research of silicon-based millimeter wave integrated circuits has become one of the current research hotspots.

 

With the support of the National 973 Program, the 863 Program and the Natural Science Foundation, research has been carried out rapidly and progress has been made. Based on 90nm CMOS technology, the State key Laboratory of Millimeter Wave of Southeast University successfully designed Q, V and W band amplifiers, mixers, VCO and W-band receivers, Q-band multi-channel transceivers, CMOS frequency multipliers to 200GHz and SiGe oscillators to 520GHz.

 

Relationship between millimeter wave chip and 6G

 

Although the current Sub-6GHz band has been developed for a period of time, the available space is relatively saturated, but the millimeter wave band has more available space and less interference.

 

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The 5G millimeter wave chipset includes a baseband processor / modem and RFIC components (such as RF transceivers and RF front ends). Due to the increasing availability of smartphones and other consumer devices that support 5G millimeter waves, mobile devices have become a major contributor to the millimeter wave 5G chipset market, and the number of 5G millimeter wave baseband processors installed will reach 3.8 billion by 2026.

 

Samsung has completed the development of cutting-edge mmWave radio frequency circuits (RFIC) and digital / analog front-end (DAFE) ASIC, which will support 28GHz and 39GHz band applications; in 2020, Qualcomm released the third generation 5G modem-to-antenna solution, the Snapdragon X60. The Snapdragon x60 uses the 5G baseband of the 5nm process and also supports millimeter wave and Sub-6GHz aggregation solutions. Ren Zhengfei once said: "Huawei's success in 5G technology is due to betting on centimeter waves, while 6G millimeter waves are the general direction."

 

The 6G network will support higher peak rate and service capacity, as well as high precision positioning accuracy of less than 10 cm and micron sensor resolution. Millimeter wave provides a large bandwidth, which can effectively improve the resolution of space and distance. Millimeter wave will play an important role in the perception and fusion of the Internet in the future.

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