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Engineering the Future of 5G: Advice to Leaders on Solving Challenges of Emerging Tech

Guest post by Ian Campbell, CEO, OnScale

From fully autonomous connected cars to the explosion of IoT devices (potentially trillions!) that are expected to enter the market over the next 10 years, 5G has the potential to bring today’s emerging technologies to the mainstream. By 2025, the emerging wireless 5G market is expected to reach a total value of $250B. 5G is projected to be 100 times faster than 4G LTE.

Imagine 5G smartphones that can live stream high-definition video selfies, 5G augmented reality gear or 5G drones that can live broadcast 4K video from anywhere on the planet.

If you talk to the Big Network providers—the AT&Ts, Verizons, and Vodaphones of the world—you might think that 5G was already here, or at the very least, right around the corner. On the other hand, if you talk to your average mobile RF Front-End (RFFE) engineer, he or she might tell you that 5G is a few years away.

Why the discrepancy? The Big Network providers are racing to replace an entire wireless infrastructure, a behemoth challenge in itself. And while they fiercely compete to build the backbone needed to support 5G, another major piece of the puzzle is engineering mobile devices that are 5G compatible and can live on the new network.  So, despite the 5G hype, it’s not quite a reality.

To make 5G mobile devices a reality, engineers will be working around the clock over the coming months and years, perfecting each component along the RFFE signal chain, which includes antenna arrays, beam-forming algorithms, filters, switches, power amps and more.

For 5G mobile devices like smartphones, a key challenge engineers face is miniaturizing and optimizing the performance of the radio frequency front end. The RF front-end module consists of filters, amplifiers, and switches to manage gigahertz RF signals. Filters for 5G bands are especially challenging to optimize and in a 5G smartphone, there will be dozens of these tiny filters. For context, the miniaturization of filters was largely responsible for the leaps from 1G to 2G, 2G to 3G, and 3G to 4G. New filter technologies like SAW and FBAR made these leaps possible, and we’ll need another step-change in filter technology to enable 5G bands up to 6 GHz, and an even larger jump to get to the fabled mmWave bands—double-digit GHz bands that will enable literally billions more devices to share 5G networks, with billions more bits per second to each device.

At OnScale we hope to make life a little easier for these engineers by giving them easy access to world-class CAE software running on unlimited HPC hardware in the Amazon-powered Cloud, so that they can rapidly optimize things like next-gen 5G RF components for 5G smartphones. The only way to truly optimize RF filters is by using computer-aided engineering simulation and optimization. The only CAE platform capable of optimizing next-generation RF filters is OnScale.

OnScale is an extremely powerful, on-demand, scalable cloud CAE platform that breaks performance barriers for engineers optimizing next-generation 5G RF filters. With OnScale Cloud CAE, engineers can analyze hundreds, thousands, even millions of design concepts rapidly in parallel on thousands of HPCs in the cloud. With this amount of computational power, engineers can explore massive design spaces and find optimal designs quickly, all while slashing R&D costs, risk and time to market.

As OnScale’s CEO, and an engineer myself, I’ve had the opportunity to lead and work at several innovative engineering companies. As engineers, it’s in our DNA to welcome the biggest, most complex engineering problems with open arms. With OnScale’s Cloud CAE, engineers are unencumbered by computational constraints and finally have the resources they need to design and optimize devices for the emerging 5G market.

I’ve learned a lot along the way. The biggest advice I can offer technology leaders for solving emerging tech challenges, especially as we navigate 5G, is to hire rockstar, “walk-on water” engineers and give them access to as much Cloud computing power as they need to solve extremely challenging engineering problems. It’s also critically important to build scalable engineering HPC systems with a leader in cloud computing. We’re proud to partner with AWS for cloud and together, to bring impactful innovation to the future of 5G.