The imminent large-scale rollout of 5G technology imposes new and tough challenges for designers of PCB, network equipment and electronic devices in general. 5G will not only represent an increase in data rates, but it will be a real revolution, with latency times reduced up to 1ms and the use of millimeter waves (mmWave) to support greater bandwidth. PCBs for 5G mobile and network devices must be able to simultaneously manage higher digital data rates and higher frequencies, pushing mixed signal design to its limit. 5G applications will also pose a variety of new challenges for the engineers developing automated test equipment (ATE). Compared to the current 4G mobile network, the rollout of 5G will force designers to rethink the layout of PCBs used in mobile devices, data transmission networks and IoT infrastructure. Ensuring signal integrity at every point on the board represents one of the most difficult challenges imposed by 5G testing. Due to the presence of mixed signals, it will be necessary to prevent EMI between the analog and digital sections of the board, verifying that the FCC EMC requirements are met. Do you know you can get develop your projects with assembly using online services at PCBA.
Impact of 5G features on testing
Transition from 4G to 5G network will not only result in a substantial improvement in data transmission rates and greater bandwidth availability but will also introduce new features that are destined to radically change many aspects of our lives. 5G network aims to provide 10-20x faster data rates (up to 1 Gbps), an increase in traffic of up to 1000x and an increase of up to 10x in the number of connections per square kilometer. Latency will be very low, of the order of 1ms, about ten times lower than that obtainable with a 4G network. Low latency is essential for the implementation of applications with real-time behavior, such as virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR), machine-to-machine (M2M) communication systems and autonomous vehicle infrastructure sensors.
5G networks will operate on a much wider frequency range than was available with previous mobile technologies. Printed circuits intended for mobile devices and network equipment will have to simultaneously manage high speed digital signals and high frequency RF signals, pushing mixed signal design to its limits. While 4G network uses frequencies between 600 MHz and 5.925 GHz, 5G network will significantly expand its upper frequency limit, pushing itself into the millimeter wave (mmWave) band. Bandwidth per channel is also an important factor affecting the design and testing of 5G PCBs and devices. While in 4G network the bandwidth per channel was equal to 20 MHz (limited to 200 kHz in IoT devices), in the fifth generation mobile network we will have a bandwidth per channel equal to 100 MHz for frequencies below 6 GHz and 400 MHz for frequencies above 6 GHz.
PCBs designed for 5G applications will require analog and digital components capable of operating at very high frequencies and data rates, whose reliability and efficiency can only be guaranteed through effective thermal management. Temperature monitoring is therefore another relevant factor for assessing a correct behavior of the PCB or device.
Read more: CHALLENGES INVOLVED IN 5G TESTING