Lawrence Livermore EUV 230At least a dozen 5G phones will be announced in the next two weeks for MWC Barcelona. Some of them may start shipping as soon as April, earlier than expected. That's not guaranteed. The primary chips should be available but the front end of the phones - RF or Radio Frequency - also has been struggling.

End of March, Taiwan Semi promises volume production of 7 nm chips produced using an Extreme Ultraviolet system (EUV.) TSMC is taking delivery on 18 of the US$100 million-plus machines this year. Some will be tested on 5nm, with production expected in 2020.  Samsung and TSMC have begun construction on 3 nm facilities that will cost US$20 billion. 

EUV should deliver chips that are perhaps 10% more efficient. Even a small improvement is desperately needed.  Huawei HiSilicon is set to be one of the primary customers, although Apple's A13 chip will have priority. 

If the designs are working as well as hoped, both HiSilicon and Qualcomm should have good quantities of 5G chips by the summer, slightly ahead of schedule. 

The most advanced chipmaking process - 7 nm at Taiwan Semi without EUV - is barely able to deliver 5G chips today. There have been fewer than a dozen public sighting of 5G phones. none of which have tested at even half of the expected gigabit. 

For EUV information, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extreme_ultraviolet_lithography is well done.

 

dave askOn Oct 1, Verizon turned on the first $20B 5G mmWave network with extraordinary hopes. The actual results the first four months have been dismal. Good engineers tell me that will change. Meanwhile, the hype is unreal. Time for reporting closer to the truth.

The estimates you hear about 5G costs are wildly exaggerated. Verizon is building the most advanced wireless network while reducing capex. Deutsche Telekom and Orange/France Telecom also confirm they won't raise capex.

Massive MIMO in either 4G or "5G" can increase capacity 4X to 7X, including putting 2.3 GHz to 4.2 GHz to use. Carrier Aggregation, 256 QAM, and other tools double and triple that. Verizon sees cost/bit dropping 40% per year.

Cisco & others see traffic growth slowing to 30%/year or less.  I infer overcapacity almost everywhere.  

Believe it or not, 80% of 5G (mid-band) for several years will be slower than good 4G, which is more developed.

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5G Why Verizon thinks differently and what to do about it is a new report I wrote for STL Partners and their clients.

STL Partners, a British consulting outfit I respect, commissioned me to ask why. That report is now out. If you're a client, download it here. If not, and corporate priced research is interesting to you, ask me to introduce you to one of the principals.

It was fascinating work because the answers aren't obvious. Lowell McAdam's company is spending $20B to cover 30M+ homes in the first stage. The progress in low & mid-band, both "4G" and "5G," has been remarkable. In most territories, millimetre wave will not be necessary to meet expected demand.