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[System LSI Tech Day 2023] Hyper-Connected: Samsung System LSI to Realize Ubiquitous Coverage through Enhanced Connectivity

Samsung lays out extensive plans to ensure better connections using non-terrestrial networks and advanced wireless connectivity solutions

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Everyone who owns a smartphone is acutely aware that human society is more connected than ever. But those billions of smartphone users around the world also know what it feels like to lose that connection when their device can’t get a signal or internet access. Samsung’s vision for a hyper-connected future is to bring every corner of the globe together, creating maximum benefits and opportunities for every individual once and for all. Merging Existing Solutions for Better Connections With this guiding objective of providing better connections, Dr. Kee-Bong Song, Vice President and Head of the SoC Cellular & Multimedia Lab at Samsung System LSI US R&D, delivered an inspiring session titled “Non-Terrestrial Network Satellite-Based Communications for Ubiquitous Coverage.” His presentation outlined Samsung’s plans for implementing terrestrial networks (TNs) and non-terrestrial networks (NTNs), while also covering the differences between NB-IoT NTN and NR NTN and how those differences play into Samsung’s plans for implementing NTN. Hyper-connected can be described as ubiquitous, constant, extremely reliable, and low-latency connections within human-device networks. Samsung System LSI is developing key components for humanoids, and Hyper-connected technology is one of the main ingredients of a humanoid world where cellular networks play a crucial role. A Superior Network Alternative for Global Reach Traditionally, cellular networks have relied on TNs. TNs are typically deployed in urban areas, but they have limitations. These networks are reliant on cellular towers and therefore not feasible in areas without much communication infrastructure. NTNs are not susceptible to the same issues as TNs. For this reason, they can be used for public safety messages, emergency text messages, and disaster relief. The latest technology advancements are integrating NTN technology into mobile devices to ensure a better quality of service to people throughout the world. Because of their more reliable connectivity, NTNs can be used to support diverse multimedia services like data services and uninterrupted video streaming. By combining NTNs and TNs, communication will be accessible to all, even those who live in areas lacking communication infrastructure. Regarding the advancement of this technology, Dr. Song said, “Ultimately, it will transform lives and foster global connectivity.” A Singular NTN Solution There are a few types of network infrastructures that support NTN technology, but satellites are the primary choice for NTN deployment. Samsung System LSI has already developed mobile modems that can support NB-IoT and NR satellite communications. NB-IoT satellites are based on LTE standards and typically use Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites, which are high above the atmosphere and generally focus on wide coverage services with limited data rates. NB-IoT satellites are appropriate for public safety purposes. With this technology, signals get passed from one satellite to another in what are referred to as “handovers.” Handovers result in less reliable connectivity, and since GEO satellites come with less frequent handovers, their connections are more stable. As opposed to NB-IoT NTNs, NR NTNs refers to 5G NR-based satellite data services. NR NTNs use Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, which are positioned at much lower altitudes than GEO satellites. As a result, they rely on handovers and therefore provide a less stable connection. The benefits to NR NTNs, however, are that they can provide high data rate services with low latency. This makes them ideal for internet surfing and real time streaming. Both NB-IoT NTNs and NR NTNs have their use cases and advantages. At this year’s Tech Day, Dr. Song revealed that Samsung System LSI has developed a single-chip solution that supports both NB-IoT NTNs and NR NTNs at the same time. The advantage of this solution is that both GEO and LEO satellite coverage is combined on a single device. Thanks to this development, Samsung System LSI NTN solution can provide reliable service and consistent coverage with various user applications that are well-connected online. This will give Samsung System LSI NTN solution a competitive advantage in a number of areas, including device cost, form factors, and power efficiency. Better 6G Connectivity Dr. Song also shared the industry view on the convergence of TNs and NTNs in future wireless communications. By utilizing TN and NTN resources at the same time, the convergence will provide wider coverage and better connectivity in 6G. Samsung System LSI has already shipped a number of Exynos modems for cellular network services around the world. Now, the company is working to provide solutions for NTNs beyond TNs by enabling NTN capability on the Exynos platform. During his presentation, Dr. Song detailed Samsung System LSI’s NTN solution roadmap for the near future. While discussing the direction of connectivity, Song said, “As the future unfolds into 6G and ubiquitous connectivity, we will continue to be pioneers in the industry.” He added, “It is this pioneering spirit that will bring the world into a true state of connectivity, allowing us to reach every corner of the globe.” A New Generation of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GNSS To further elaborate on the future of connectivity, Ravi Gidvani, Senior Director and Head of Wi-Fi Advanced R&D, and Brad Stewart, Vice President and Head of Location R&D, held a joint session titled, “Future Technologies and Trends in Connectivity.” In it, they specifically addressed the solutions that Samsung System LSI is currently working on to enable a more connected world. New Wi-Fi Capabilities for Optimized Power and Cost In his portion of the session, Gidvani discussed generations of Wi-Fi, Samsung System LSI’s Wi-Fi capabilities, and where they are headed. The company launched its first Wi-Fi Bluetooth products in 2016 and has been continuously advancing its solutions since that time. As part of the seventh generation of Wi-Fi chipsets, the S6165, a discrete Wi-Fi Bluetooth combo chipset, is a 3-chip solution that supports Wi-Fi 6E and BT 5.3. The chipset covers all three Wi-Fi frequency bands (2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz) and is available now. An even more advanced solution that Gidvani covered is the S6175, which is the latest integrated Wi-Fi BT that supports Wi-Fi 7 and BT6.x. The S6175 supports advanced features like multi-link, where simultaneous connections between two Wi-Fi peers can be made in all three frequency bands, and achieves a data rate of 6.8Gbps. It manages to use lower power at a cheaper operating cost than other components, which is achieved through different process technologies. Accurate, Available, and Efficient GNSS Stewart, on the other hand, covered the state of Samsung System LSI’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology. The company first launched a single-die quad-constellation discrete receiver in 2016 and has since expanded its capabilities, performance, and product line to serve customers in a variety of markets. Extreme accuracy is now the focus, and this will be done by taking full advantage of the latest modernized GNSS signals and supporting sub-meter accuracy with Real-Time Kinematic (RTK)/ Precise Point Positioning (PPP) techniques and carrier phase measurements. Multipath mitigation is also continuing to improve to create more accurate GNSS positioning, even in challenging urban canyon environments. Increased availability and decreased power consumption are two key areas of focus in the latest GNSS technology. To address availability, Samsung System LSI is supporting dead reckoning and sensor fusion for driving, pedestrian, and fitness applications while making use of additional signals of opportunity, when available. Power consumption, on the other hand, is being decreased through an advanced low-power architecture, which enables adaptive duty cycling and intelligent band selection. The result is a GNSS receiver that requires a minimal amount of power. Furthermore, Samsung’s advanced process nodes and the high level of integration of Exynos SoCs are allowing the silicon size to get smaller and smaller. Concerning these developments, Stewart said, “System LSI offers a total solution for connectivity, with advanced capabilities in all key technologies.”