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Picocom unveils industry-first SoC for 5G small cell Open RAN units
Wed, 8th Nov 2023

Specialist in 5G Open RAN baseband semiconductors, Picocom, has announced the launch of the industry's first system-on-chip (SoC) specifically created for 5G small cell Open RAN radio units.

The newly introduced SoC, labeled PC805, comes optimised for encouraging the effective implementation of 5G NR/LTE small cell O-RUs in a variety of deployment use cases. These include enterprise networks, industrial, neutral host, and private networks.

The design of O-RUs with PC805 is significantly simplified compared to existing designs, leading to a reduced bill of materials. The SoC can connect directly with O-DUs via Open Fronthaul and supports uninterrupted connections to RFICs with a standardised JESD204B high-speed serial interface. Picocom's fully integrated O-RAN compliant 5G NR RU and M-plane software suite are included in the shipment of the PC805.

The President of Picocom, Peter Claydon, highlighted the shift from the current hardware redesign approach necessitated by most existing O-RU products that are based on FPGA technology.

He said, “Unlocking these new opportunities requires a more focused approach, where new use cases can be accommodated with simple software changes. That’s why I'm thrilled to introduce Picocom’s optimised yet flexible SoC for small cell radio units. PC805 will empower a new era of small cell deployments, answering the increasing calls from customers for more carrier aggregation and flexible spectrum utilisation.”

Head of GSMA Intelligence, Peter Jarich commented on the strategic importance of Open RAN and the role optimised silicon like the PC805 SoC can play in its success.

He remarked, "Our research shows that operators see Open RAN as a strategic priority, with 5G — and 5G-Advanced - acting as a trigger for rethinking how networks are built. Optimised and readily available silicon is critical for the success of Open RAN, with a diverse set of sources being best for the industry."

"It's good to see companies delivering optimised silicon for small cells, which are particularly important for neutral host and private network deployments along with network densification exercises."

Additionally, Vice President of Marketing at Picocom, Oliver Davies spoke about the demand from operators. He noted, "As 5G deployments progress, operators want to aggregate spectrum from different bands."

"This is especially true for neutral host operators, who often need to support the frequency allocations of several mobile operators or aggregate non-contiguous channels in shared spectrum. PC805 supports these use cases with a minimum of additional components, greatly reducing both capital and operating costs. Simply put, take PC805, add RF and a power supply, and you will have an O-RU!”

PC805 can support four or more 4T4R carriers in a 200 MHz instantaneous bandwidth (IBW), making it suitable for operation in the US CBRS and equivalent frequencies available in other countries. It also supports multiple bands, including both TDD and FDD for both 5G NR and LTE. PC805 launches with a total software suite and a companion RU Demonstrator Board, to facilitate development and expedite time-to-market.

The PC805 will be available in a 17mmx17mm FC LFBGA Flip-Chip Ball Grid format, and samples will be supplied to lead customers from November 2023.