Innovation

Nokia targets 5G future with new chipsets that boast 3x capacity

Nokia's new chips incorporate AI to reduce the size and power use of MIMO antennas and will be available in Q3 2018.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Nokia's new ReefShark 5G chipset will be available in Q3 2018. A single chipset will triple the throughput of an existing baseband station from 28 Gbps to 84 Gbps, reduce power consumption by 64%, and greatly reduce antenna size requirements.
  • ReefShark chipsets use machine learning to virtually slice networks for separate protocols, ensuring faster, more reliable connections.

Nokia has announced its new ReefShark 5G chipset, signaling that it is ready for the global transition to 5G technologies.

The new ReefShark chips are so powerful, a Nokia spokesperson said, that a single tower could handle 100 times the Wi-Fi and cell data used at last year's Super Bowl, which was a record-setting 40 terabits.

Nokia said its ReefShark chipset is powered not only by the company's "extensive capabilities" for developing antennas for mobile devices and base stations, but also by state-of-the-art AI from Nokia Bell Labs.

The AI technology being used in ReefShark chips leverages machine learning to "enable real-time radio monitoring and optimization and the ability to apply techniques such as network slicing" to enhance performance.

Network slicing is a key part of 5G technology that allows a single physical network to be sliced into multiple virtual networks dedicated to specific applications, services, and radio access networks.

The growth in IoT and connected technology will congest networks with a variety of hardware and software, making on-the-fly virtualization a necessity for maintaining speeds and signal reliability.

ReefShark's capabilities

The ReefShark chipsets that will begin shipping in Q3 2018 are plug-and-play modules designed for installation in existing Nokia AirScale baseband modules, which can already be upgraded to 5G via a software patch.

Current AirScale throughput tops out at 28 Gbps. A ReefShark chipset will increase the max throughput of an existing AirScale module to 84 Gbps per module. Chaining multiple ReefShark-enabled AirScale modules will allow max throughputs of up to six terabytes per second, Nokia said.

SEE: New equipment budget policy (Tech Pro Research)

Along with improving throughput, ReefShark chipsets will shrink size requirements for multi-input multi-output (MIMO) antennas. Currently, MIMOs need to be between 3.3 feet and 8.5 feet. Our sister site ZDNet reports that ReefShark chips will reduce size requirements to around 1.5 feet.

Nokia also said ReefShark chips will reduce baseband power consumption by 64%.

Nokia's Q3 2018 release target is in line with other proposals to begin wide-scale rollout of 5G technology. AT&T plans to have 5G service in 12 markets by the end of 2018, and Verizon has announced 5G plans of its own for 2018.

The Trump administration also reportedly has plans for secure nationwide 5G technology, lending further legitimacy to the idea that widespread 5G is just around the corner.

5G is predicted to be a worldwide revolution in low-latency networking, cloud viability, IoT penetration, and the increased spread in automated technology. Government, data service providers, and hardware manufacturers appear to be full steam ahead—reaching 20% of the world by 2023 may not be so far-fetched.

Timur Arbaev

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About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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