Samsung and Marvell Developing Combined 4G and 5G SoCs

07-04-2021 |   |  By Robin Mitchell

Recently, Samsung and Marvell announced their partnership in the development of combined 4G and 5G SoCs. Who is Marvell, what do we know about the announcement, and what is the significance of combined 4G/5G systems?

Who is Marvell?

Marvell Technology Group is an American company that specialises in semiconductor technologies such as processors for infrastructure, Wi-Fi ICs, and cellular systems. Founded in 1995, Marvell now has over 5200 employees with a revenue of $2.8 billion and has its headquarters in Santa Clara. 

Marvell has purchased many other businesses throughout its operation and has acquired over 10,000 patents worldwide. While the business operates globally, it is domiciled in Bermuda, and currently operates a fabless business model.

Samsung and Marvell Announce Partnership in New SoC

Recently, Samsung and Marvell announced a new partnership to develop a range of SoCs for use in the cellular industry. The new series of devices will be aimed at enhancing the 5G network, and these devices will be targets to Tier One operators in the second quarter of 2021.

According to Samsung, the new SoC has been designed to implement new technologies which will go on to help cellular service providers by increasing the overall number of simultaneous connections as well as increasing the coverage. Furthermore, the new devices will lower power consumption as well as size which allows for an increased network system for the same power and size.

However, details surrounding the new devices is almost non-existent, but some clues give insights as to what the new devices will allow and their ultimate goal. The only number that Samsung has published is that the new devices will save up to 70% on power consumption compared to previous devices. 

Secondly, the Marvell announcement mentions cellular providers and control-plane processors. This indicates that the new range of devices is SoCs specifically designed for handling 4G and 5G on the service provider side. The reports also mention the use of MIMO antenna which massively help with handling thousands of connections simultaneously. 

The reports from each company also speak of the SoCs handling both 4G and 5G. Therefore, we can deduce that the new devices are designed to replace current hardware while providing support for older networks. This allows operators to replace large amounts of their pre-existing equipment with the new SoCs. Thus, in one move a cellular operator can improve their hardware, introduce 5G, and improve 4G connections.

Mentions of The Edge

Another few words of interest in the announcement from Marvel is “from the edge to the core”. Edge computing is an emerging concept whereby data is processed on devices before being sent to the cloud for finalising. 

For example, instead of sending raw microphone data to a remote server for decoding, an IoT device can first do some pre-processing (such as identifying key commands) and processing this before sending the data to the cloud. Another example would be a smart security camera that can recognise faces, and only sends the cloud specifics such as the name of the person and how long they were on the premises.

The introduction of 5G networks will see a whole new opportunity rise for the IoT sector as 5G offers a large number of simultaneously connected devices, low latency, and better coverage. Furthermore, 5G also offers the possibility of the worlds first unified network, and future generations of cellular networks could see Wi-Fi and even broadband entirely replaced. 

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By Robin Mitchell

Robin Mitchell is an electronic engineer who has been involved in electronics since the age of 13. After completing a BEng at the University of Warwick, Robin moved into the field of online content creation developing articles, news pieces, and projects aimed at professionals and makers alike. Currently, Robin runs a small electronics business, MitchElectronics, which produces educational kits and resources.

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