Samsung is collaborating with Xilinx — a programmable chipmaker — to deliver superior 5G connectivity that will become the driving force for all technological developments in the coming years. In the world where data is ubiquitous, excellent connectivity is still a massive challenge for businesses to harness the potential of data. The absence of a network that can connect the entire world and transfer a colossal amount of data within seconds is causing hindrance in the development of some of the most awaited technologies like IoT, self-driving cars, and more. However, a robust 5G network can cater to the rising need for speed and low latency connectivity for another wave of innovation.
But, there are numerous challenges in the adoption of 5G technology since it is hardware intensive, has weak coverage area, and requires more capital. Therefore, before 5G can assist in other technological innovations, researchers need to come up with advanced solutions to make 5G easily adaptable as well as affordable. Xilinx is one such company that is innovating in the space to democratise 5G technology with state-of-the-art programmable chips that can take flexible hardware to a new level.
Xilinx has been working on developing field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for years and has spent more than $1 billion to invent an adaptive computer acceleration platform (ACAP). The company believes that the ACAP chip is as significant as the invention of FPGAs in the 1980s. This can help Samsung to effectively commercialise the 5G technology as ACAP provides a universal, flexible, and scalable platform that can address multiple operator requirements across different geographies. Jaeho Jeon, Vice President and Head of R&D, Samsung Electronics, said that Xilinx’s advanced platform would allow Samsung to increase 5G performance and accelerate its position in capturing the global market. ACAP can be used across a broad set of applications for the era of big data and artificial intelligence.
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Xilinx’s Versal ACAP Platform
Versal ACAP — a highly-integrated, multicore, heterogeneous compute platform — operates at the heart of 5G to perform complex, real-time signal processing, including the sophisticated beamforming techniques used to increase network capacity. Beamforming is a crucial technique to offer 5G connectivity as it focuses wireless signals on a specific receiving device, instead of having the signal spread in all directions from a broadcast antenna, thereby enabling direct connection for faster and reliable communication.
To accomplish such operations, ACAP offers exceptional compute density at low power consumption to perform the real-time, low latency signal processing demanded by beamforming algorithms. The AI Engines, which are part of the Versal AI Core series, is comprised of a tiled array of vector processors, making them ideal for implementing the required mathematical functions offering high compute density, advanced connectivity, as well as the ability to be reprogrammed and reconfigured even after deployment.
Xilinx’s Expertise In Chips
Xilinx has been blazing its trail and making ACAP-based chips for a wide range of use cases, which can significantly increase the performance of machine learning workloads. According to Victor Peng, CEO of Xilinx, ACAP can adapt dynamically during operations, and that can make it more efficient in performance-per-watt than CPUs and GPUs. The adoption of ACAP in data centres will play an essential role in video transcoding, data compression, AI inference, genomics, and more. The company claims that its ACAP chips can deliver 20 times better performance on deep neural networks than the traditional FPGA chip.
Intel has been developing similar chips and, in February, released a chip — Atom P5900 — for base stations for radio access network (RAN). The company is providing chips for 5G connectivity workload for Ericsson, Nokia, and ZTE. However, the facet of Xilinx is its innovative ACAP technology, which the company believes, provides an edge over other FPGA chips. This has allowed the company to be in association with the leading 5G service providers like Huawei and Ericsson for 5G connectivity. It would be interesting to see how effectively Samsung will leverage ACAP as per its need and emerge as a leader in 5G technology.