MaxLinear Inc. and Qorvo have developed a combined solution that addresses the critical challenges for 32x32 and 64x64 massive MIMO radios – the size, weight and power consumption. This solution reduces the radio's power, weight and volume by enabling high-efficiency power amplifiers (PAs), making massive MIMO radios more practical. Additionally, this solution saves hundreds of watts per multi-element radio in both power consumption and wasted dissipated power.
The combination of MaxLIN Linearization Technology and Qorvo’s GaN high-efficiency power amplifier, QPD0011J Doherty power amplifier driven by QPD0006, provides breakthrough power efficiency of 55.14% with excellent linearized performance (ACLR < -51 dBc and EVM < 3%) at 41.5dBm (14W) with 30 dB of gain and operating from 3.4 GHz to 3.6 GHz with 2xNR100 MHz carriers.
This combination increases the overall power efficiency of the radio and allows for more compact radio designs through the reduction of the size of the heat sink and relaxed thermal design. The power amplifier was tested with a full 1T/1R RF front-end reference design incorporating Qorvo’s industry-leading transmit and receive products. The companies showcased this solution at Booth 3030 at International Microwave Symposium in Denver last week.
According to Allied Market Research, the global massive MIMO market size was valued at $1.09 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $15.79 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 35.3% from 2020 to 2027.
“At Qorvo, we work to implement full RF end-to-end solutions that can be directly implemented by customers,” said Gangadhar Burra, chief architect of Qorvo’s Infrastructure and Defense business. “Demonstrating our high-efficiency amplifiers with a full radio front end provides a complete solution and 3GPP compliance. Qorvo is excited to be teamed with MaxLinear on their state-of-the-art radio and linearization solutions.”
“At MaxLinear we engineer customer value into our products,” said Brendan Walsh, MaxLinear’s Vice President, Wireless Infrastructure. “Working with Qorvo to provide a solution for smaller and energy-efficient massive MIMO radios gives our customers an attractive solution to meet site and installation challenges and energy efficiency targets.”
MaxLinear’s latest linearization system (MaxLIN), coupled with a companion optimization software MaxLIN Design Studio, delivers excellent efficiency and linearization performance with GaN power amplifiers. MaxLIN Technology includes crest factor reduction (CFR) and digital pre-distortion (DPD), providing adaptive linearization for highly nonlinear power amplifiers.
MaxLIN Design Studio CAD software provides an automated power amplifier characterization and DPD co-optimization. This reduces the traditionally tedious task of power amplifier linearization from several months to a few weeks by providing a fully automated closed-loop optimization system.
MaxLIN is integrated into MaxLinear’s single-chip solution, Sierra, for 5G open RAN radio units.
Qorvo GaN Power Amplifiers
The QPD0011J is an asymmetric dual-path discrete GaN on SiC HEMT in a DFN package that operates from 3.3 to 3.6 GHz. In each path is a single-stage amplifier transistor. QPD0011J can deliver an average power of 16 W in a Doherty configuration, with Doherty peak power greater than 100W.
The QPD0006 is a single-path discrete GaN on SiC HEMT in a plastic overmold DFN package that operates from 2.5 to 5.0 GHz. It is a single-stage, unmatched transistor capable of delivering P3dB of 13.5 W at +48 V. It provides excellent gain at P3dB compression of 16.5dB.
The QPD0011J and QPD0006 are combined on a single, compact reference design board delivering excellent driver and Doherty stage combined efficiency of 55% linearized with MaxLin to -51dBc ACPR and EVM 2.6%. The complete end-to-end RF transmit lineup efficiency is 54%.
Additionally, the PA was demonstrated with an all Qorvo 1T/1R reference design incorporating additional pre-drivers and gain control. A wide bandwidth Observation path is included to provide feedback to the Digital Predistortion in MaxLIN. A full high gain receiver path, including Qorvo’s industry-leading QPB9348 dual-channel low noise amplifier (LNA) with bypass switch is included. The Cascaded Receive chain noise figure (NF) is 1.37 dBm in the high gain state (43 dB), and 1.46 dB in the low gain state (26.6 dB). The reference design also includes control circuitry for bias sequencing and safe shutdown with loss of gate supply. Additionally, TX PA_enable allows TDD operation of the TX and RX lineup.
The combined 1T1R reference board, QPD0011J Doherty PA and driver PA board, and MaxLinear’s Matterhorn Transceiver provide a complete demonstration solution for 32 channel transit mMIMO applications.
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