MaxLinear Sierra accelerates the development of Open RAN radios units

MaxLinear announced Sierra, a fully integrated System on Chip (SoC) for 4G/5G Open RAN (Radio Access Network) radio units (RU).

MaxLinear Sierra

This complete silicon and software solution provides RU designers with a flexible system building block to deliver Macro, Massive MIMO, and Small Cell radios for Open RAN applications with high performance, low power consumption, and short time-to-market. MaxLinear began work last year in a collaboration with Meta Connectivity to design the single-chip solution.

Sierra integrates the following sub-systems into a single chip to provide a compact and complete software-programmable radio signal processing engine for Open RAN RUs:

  • RF Transceiver supporting up to 8 transmitters, 8 receivers, and 2 feedback receivers
  • Digital Front End (DFE), powered by MaxLIN™ the industry’s leading digital pre-distortion (DPD) and crest factor reduction (CFR) solution, and supporting digital up-conversion (DUC) and digital down-conversion (DDC) of component carriers
  • Low PHY Baseband Processor supporting 5G, 4G, and NB-IoT air interfaces
  • Fronthaul Interface compliant with O-RAN Alliance Split 7.2x

“Sierra is an ultimate integration of MaxLinear’s highest performance RF and system technologies. It empowers radio vendors to rapidly and cost effectively develop new platforms with best-in-class size, weight, and power consumption for Open RAN applications,” said Brendan Walsh, Vice President of MaxLinear’s Wireless Infrastructure Group. “In this way Sierra represents a game-changing innovation that will level the playing field for wireless infrastructure vendors and can dramatically accelerate the global rollout of Open RAN without compromise on network performance or cost.”

“We are excited that MaxLinear is delivering this new radio silicon platform to the Open RAN ecosystem,” said Jaydeep Ranade, Director of Wireless Engineering for Meta Connectivity. “Through Evenstar and our contributions to the TIP OpenRAN Project Group, we are an industry champion of Open RAN reference designs for 4G and 5G networks. Sierra is fully aligned with these goals to make high performance, innovative Open RAN solutions globally available.”

“The availability of high-performance RF silicon platforms is a critical catalyst for the development of a truly competitive Open RAN radio ecosystem,” said Andy Dunkin, Open RAN RF and Digital Platform Development Manager at Vodafone Group. “Vodafone welcomes devices such as Sierra which promote and accelerate the Open RAN community’s goals of open interfaces and software-defined functions”.

“The Open RAN movement has come a long way and remains on track to drive 15% of the RAN market by 2026,” said Stefan Pongratz, Vice President at Dell’Oro. “New technologies that reduce barriers-to-entry without compromising performance, such as optimized RU silicon solutions, play an essential role to realize the broader Open RAN vision of not just open interfaces but also improved supplier diversity.”

More about Sierra

At the heart of Sierra is MaxLIN, a DPD solution for wideband power amplifier linearization.

  • Its linearization performance exceeds the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unwanted emissions requirements with margin while delivering high PA efficiencies of >50%.
  • The MaxLIN platform is software configurable to optimally support different PA architectures, technologies, and power levels for all potential RU applications from macro to pico cells.
  • Its advanced machine learning algorithms feature variable delay memory banks, flexible logic and MaxLinear enhancements to correct for both long term and short-term nonlinear dynamics including GaN charge trapping and thermal transients.

Sierra samples will be supported by a full range of evaluation platforms, software, and tools to facilitate early system development.

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