MWC 2024: Three New 5G Devices Boost Networking Performance

February 29, 2024 by Aaron Carman

From ready-made routers to AI-enhanced modems, the latest 5G hardware showcased at MWC 2024 continues to improve the state-of-the-art.

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) took place this week in Barcelona, where industry leaders showcased their latest innovations in the world of connectivity. Many companies this year turned their attention to 5G applications, presenting new hardware that enables this wireless technology.  


MWC 2024

As 5G technology reaches new applications, the latest hardware presented at MWC 2024 offers designers improved performance, efficiency, and robustness. Image (modified) used courtesy of the GSMA

This article turns the spotlight on three new pieces of wireless hardware presented at MWC 2024 to discuss how they work, what they offer RF designers, and how they could be used in the next generation of 5G deployments.


Lattice Semiconductor Announces ORAN Stack

Lattice Semiconductor recently announced the latest updates to its ORAN solution stack, which were demoed at MWC 2024. Compared with traditional radio access networks (RANs), open radio access networks (ORANs) can support higher performance and interoperability.

A unique feature of 5G is its reliance on small cells to provide coverage and capacity for networks. The increased number of cells, however, can create security and performance concerns if quality reference solutions are unavailable. Lattice claims its ORAN stack improves performance and time to market for 5G designers.


Lattice ORAN stack

The Lattice ORAN stack offers designers hardware, IP, and reference designs to simplify the development of high-performance 5G ORANs. Image used courtesy of Lattice Semiconductor

Compared to previous versions, the latest ORAN solution stack targets small cells using the CertusPro-NX FPGA. It includes a PCIe Gen 3-to-JESD204B bridge and timing and synchronization improvements to optimize the speed of the device. In addition, the solution consumes less power and assumes a smaller footprint thanks to its optimized SERDES speeds. 


Qualcomm Highlights AI-Integrated 5G Modem

Next, Qualcomm revealed its latest 5G Modem-RF system with integrated AI acceleration. Targeting the next generation of 5G, "5G Advanced," the Snapdragon X80 comes equipped with many features to improve performance and efficiency in mobile devices. 


Snapdragon X80 5G Modem

The Snapdragon X80 5G Modem includes built-in AI acceleration, allowing for AI-enabled beam steering, power management, and more. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm

Marking the seventh generation of its “modem-to-antenna” solution, the Snapdragon X80 features up to 6× carrier aggregation and 6 RX ports for smartphones. A dedicated tensor hardware accelerator provides AI acceleration, allowing the Snapdragon X80 to use AI to optimize power handling, coverage, and beam management.

Qualcomm believes its latest 5G modem will benefit several key 5G markets, including mobile devices, automotive, and fixed wireless access applications. Qualcomm demoed the Snapdragon X80 at MWC 2024, along with other new Qualcomm devices.


Semtech Unveils Robust 5G Router

Lastly, Semtech Corporation unveiled a high-performance, compact, and rugged 5G/Wi-Fi router for industrial deployments. Since 5G networks typically require densely connected routers, the small size and rugged nature of the Semtech AirLink XR60 makes the transition to 5G smoother with a ready-made router solution. 


Semtech AirLink XR60

The Semtech AirLink XR60 includes 5G and Wi-Fi 6 support in a rugged form factor, simplifying 5G deployments in a wider variety of applications. Image used courtesy of Semtech

Within the router, Semtech has incorporated 5G cellular radios, Wi-Fi 6 support with 2×2 MIMO, and Ethernet and USB interfaces. The XR60 supports a maximum of 2.8 Gbps 5G downlink and 1.2 Gbps Wi-Fi throughput. In addition, the AirLink XR60 comes with one year of access to AirLink Complete, enabling remote device management and network control.

Perhaps the biggest selling point of the router is its robust design, with sealed aluminum housing rated at IP64. This allows the router to be used in harsh environments, making it an appealing option for automotive or industrial applications.


A Healthy Hardware Ecosystem for 5G

Although some wireless technology makers are already looking forward to 6G or Wi-Fi 7, the new hardware showcased at MWC 2024 demonstrates that there is still plenty of room for improvement with today’s standards.