Xilinx and NEC collaborate over new 5G radio units

base stations and mobile phone transmitters against the background of the evening sky

NEC’s next generation of radio units will feature the Xilinx 7nm Versal AI Core, which will help with things like beamforming and OpenRAN.

A few years ago we didn’t talk about these companies so much in a telecoms context but 5G, and especially OpenRAN, have brought them to the fore. One of the most tricky things 5G has to do in order to make efficient use of mid-band spectrum and the massive MIMO it facilitates is beamforming. As an automated way of focusing radio on individual devices, it requires more processing cleverness than traditional radios.

“In the highly competitive 5G base station market, the integration of Xilinx technology within NEC RUs will provide valuable advantages to our customers, who demand highly-capable and feature-rich RUs that deliver the performance needed to scale for nearly any application,” said Kenichi Ito, GM of the 1st Wireless Access Solutions Division at NEC. “The Xilinx Versal AI Core series delivers on its design promise for performance and scalability by using advanced signal-processing for massive MIMO antennas and beamforming.”

“NEC’s new massive MIMO radios using Xilinx’s commercially-proven beamforming capabilities will enable an improved wireless end-user experience as use cases continue to grow and evolve in the future,” said Liam Madden, GM of the Wired and Wireless Group at Xilinx. “The combination of NEC’s leadership in massive MIMO radio design and Xilinx technology will deliver a compelling solution to the ORAN market.”

Apart from general compatibility there doesn’t seem to be anything especially optimised for OprenRAN in this product set. Rather the companies involved seem to be keen to position it as slotting seamlessly into the broader OpenRAN product mix. Perhaps the most noteworthy thing in that context is the absence of Intel, with Xilinx in the process of being acquired by Intel rival AMD.

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