Samsung Makes a Surprise Entrance in the 5G mmWave Chipset Market to Compete with Qualcomm

Samsung Makes a Surprise Entrance in the 5G mmWave Chipset Market to Compete with Qualcomm

System Plus Consulting and Yole Développement tore down the Pixel 6 Pro to see which companies are supplying RF and 5G mmWave chipsets for the smartphone. This tear down brought to light some interesting facts including the commercial entrance of Samsung in a market that was previously dominated by Qualcomm. As depicted in the figure below, Samsung is providing all the key components of the system: the modem, the intermediate frequency transceiver, the mmWave RF transceiver, as well as the power management IC.

Second, Murata is taking care of the AiP (Antenna in Package) assembly leveraging its in-house state-of-the-art MetroCirc substrate. The result is an innovative, flexible antenna design enabling two radiation directions (rear and side) from a unique component, including a fully used 16-channel transceiver, an industry first as competing solutions are based on two components, each featuring a partially used 16 channel transceiver. Last but not least, innovation takes place inside the mmWave antenna package itself as shown in the figure below. The mmWave RF transceiver has been designed on Samsung’s FDSOI 28 nm platform (28FDS). Another industry first.

The 5G mmWave market is emerging and poised for high double-digit growth. Yole expects the AiP and mmWave front-end module market to be worth $2.7 billion by 2026. With the introduction of FDSOI into this market, Samsung - using FDSOI substrates from Soitec - is bringing a serious alternative to Qualcomm’s bulk CMOS solution. This will likely propel 5G mmWave adoption.

In its latest cellular RF Front-End report, Yole expected a new entrant and FDSOI to penetrate the market in as early as 2022. FDSOI is an ideal technology for 5G mmWave applications. It offers a fully integrated approach regrouping intermediate frequency - conversion to mmWave signal (and vice/versa) and mmWave RF Front End including the transmit and the receive paths.

Besides this undeniable integration advantage of mixed signal and RF circuitry, FDSOI is a good technology for RF applications providing sufficient power level at mmWave frequencies with state-of-the-art power efficiency which directly translates into low heat dissipation and better battery life. And high-power level capability will enable a better radio link budget with the base stations, thus a better quality of service.

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Publisher: everything RF