MaxLinear and Cree Achieve Breakthrough Performance to Increase 5G Base Station Capacity

MaxLinear, a leading provider of radio frequency (RF), analog, digital and mixed-signal integrated circuits, and Cree, the global leader in Silicon Carbide (SiC) technology through its Wolfspeed business, announced breakthrough performance when combining MaxLinear’s ultra-wideband linearization solution (MaxLin) and Cree’s Wolfspeed® Gallium Nitride (GaN) on SiC mid-band power amplifiers. The new solution increases wireless capacity of a 5G base station, supporting more simultaneous users and increasing the speed of data transmissions.

The use of GaN on SiC with effective linearization accelerates the rollout of 5G by enabling significant power, thermal, and cost savings through more efficient wireless transmission. The power savings from combining Cree’s highly efficient GaN on SiC power amplifiers with a highly effective linearization solution implemented by MaxLinear can be hundreds of watts for the massive MIMO radios that 5G demands.

Gerhard Wolf, Senior Vice President and General Manager of RF at Cree | Wolfspeed, stated that their GaN on silicon carbide power amplifiers are designed to achieve high efficiency with extremely wide instantaneous bandwidth in a very small form factor at the newly released 5G spectrum. Working with MaxLinear’s solution, this technology demonstrates a significant step forward in achieving outstanding linearity performance and will help wireless providers deliver a superior level of performance and service to mobile customers.

The new solution tackles a substantial industry challenge: implementing radio units with 5G massive MIMO arrays such as 64x64 or 32x32, while maintaining a reasonable size, weight, and power. The newer 5G spectrum is at a higher carrier frequency and has wider bandwidths, making it more challenging to achieve high power efficiency for radio units.

“We are solving a substantial challenge of 5G radios,” said Helen Kim, Vice President of MaxLinear’s Wireless Technologies & IP. “Customers need to find a way to deliver mid-band 5G capacity without a commensurate increase in cost and power. Our wideband, power-efficient linearization solution and our low power 400MHz transceivers significantly reduce the heat dissipated by massive MIMO arrays, resulting in a substantially slimmer, lower cost radio solution.”

Using GaN on SiC, MaxLinear’s solution delivers breakthrough linearization performance for a 280 MHz channel to support US 5G spectrum (3.7-3.98 GHz) and a 400 MHz channel to support Asian and European 5G mid-band spectrum (3.4-3.8 GHz). At 280MHz of instantaneous bandwidth, Cree’s WS1A3940 power amplifier achieves ~50% efficiency for the average output power of 39.5dBm, MaxLinear’s MxL1600 transceiver provides a sampling rate of 983MSPS, and MaxLin improves linearity by >20dB to exceed 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements with margin. Using the Wolfspeed WS1A3640 power amplifier, MaxLin also demonstrates a >20dB linearization improvement at 400MHz of instantaneous bandwidth.

Cree’s WS1A3940 and WS1A3640 GaN on SiC power amplifier modules, MaxLinear’s MxL15xx and MxL16xx 400MHz transceivers, and MaxLinear’s MaxLin linearization technology are solutions that enable both traditional and Open RAN innovations.