Address digital baseband to unlock THz communications for 6G
Drawing from pioneering research from the EPIC project, InterDigital’s Onur Sahin details in Embedded.com why the digital baseband is a critical component to unlock THz communications, and how this research lays a foundation for achieving the potential of 6G.
In his editorial, Onur explains that the digital baseband processor is the most computationally intensive part of a wireless system because it is the component where all wireless signal processing functions are computed, and within that, encoding and decoding represent the most complex and power-hungry processing blocks within the system. Despite its complexity, achieving ultra-fast encoding and decoding for the baseband chipset, also known as channel coding or forward-error-correction (FEC) technology, is crucial to unlock the ultra-high data rates and high-frequency radio communications foundational to 5G and beyond.
In THz communications, FEC technology is a key piece of the puzzle because it allows the transmitter and receiver to detect and correct transmission errors, while using advanced channel coding algorithms to achieve processing efficiency and higher throughput.
Specifically, the European Commission Horizon 2020-funded Enabling Practical Wireless Tb/s Communications with Next Generation Channel Coding (EPIC) project developed FEC channel coding technology to reach ultra-high frequencies exceeding 100Ghz and above and achieve ultra-fast speeds topping 100 Gb/s – a hundred times faster than today’s 5G speeds.
Figure 1. 5G requirements vs B5G (beyond 5G)requirements in FEC for various use-cases, including ultra-high speed communications (Tbps), ultra-low-latency communications. The EPIC project is aimed at delivering the B5G requirements.
In addition, the EPIC project also addresses the structural change in the design of cellular systems in THz communications. Unlike 5G mmWave technology that is dependent on macro and microcells, 6G’s THz bands communications will require a more frequent deployment of nanocells because higher frequencies are less favorable for long-distance signal propagation. This structural change demands increased network-level computations to manage vast networks of nanocells, alongside specific antennas, radio units and generators, and the ground-breaking solutions championed in the EPIC project that help address the computational burden placed on the baseband chipset.
Read more about this project and the potential it unlocks for 6G THz communications in the editorial in Embedded.com here.