5G research spans the gamut from algorithm development to carrier-acceptance test, as explained in a special report in our December issue.1 In that article, industry experts including Ken Karnofsky, senior strategist, MathWorks, commented on trends in 5G technology and the challenges 5G presents. In a follow-up phone conversation, Karnofsky elaborated on topics including automatic code generation, helping engineering teams obtain the necessary skills and tools to meet 5G challenges, math-based visualization of propagation characteristics, scatterers in multipath environments, and issues related to spectrum congestion and coexistence.
Rick Nelson: In our December special report on 5G, you commented, “Currently, the entire signal chain, from RF to baseband, can be implemented in a single programmable device or module. However, most engineering teams do not have incumbent engineers with the expertise to design and integrate these devices into a complete system.” Are these devices FPGAs?
Ken Karnofsky: It depends on whether the design is for a base station or mobile phone. Ultimately in many cases, once devices get into full production, they will become ASICs. In the early stage of base-station design there is a significant FPGA component. For handsets and mobile devices FPGAs can be used in emulators or prototyping systems, but of course the ultimate final product is going to be an ASIC in that case.