On March 10, four engineers will look at 5G energy consumption from components to networks.
Why 5G is power hungry? What can engineers do about it?
For several years, we’ve been hearing about the wonderful things 5G can bring — faster download speeds, reduced latency, and many more connected devices. With those promises comes the dark side: the energy needed to power it all.
We often hear claims that 5G is more energy efficient than LTE in terms of energy per bit. If you get, say, ten times the data rates for nine times the energy consumption, you can still claim lower energy per bit. So what? I’m not saying that 5G uses nine times the energy as LTE, but you get the point of the hype.
Much of the large increase in data rates of 5G comes from using mmWave frequencies. Unfortunately, signals at those frequencies have short range and barely penetrate buildings, if at all. Thus, we need many small cells and the energy to power them. To get mmWave signals indoors, we’ll need repeaters or more cells in and on buildings. The result: even more energy consumption. “5G as a system is designed to be more power efficient — but that doesn’t mean it will use less power on an absolute basis,” said Ericsson’s Mike Murphy in. Sustainable 5G: Network modernization, energy-smart operations and renewable energy.
If you attend engineering conferences surrounding 5G, you’ll hear about techniques to improve efficiency in power amplifiers, data converters, and other components. We covered this issue in 5G needs better amplifier efficiency where we spoke with Naveen Yanduru of Renesas following his presentation at the IEEE International Microwave Symposium. In the video, Yanduru discusses techniques such as envelope tracking and Doherty Amplifiers to minimize energy consumption, but we can still do better.
5G technology includes the ability to connect many more devices that just smartphones. You’ve probably heard much about massive machine-to-machine (mM2M) communications for applications such as factories. You’ve also heard about billions of IoT devices for sensing the world around us. As these applications for 5G begin to emerge, the hype has moved to claiming that overall, 5G will result in so much reduced energy use and net energy consumption will be less than with previous wireless technologies. We may reach a point where we use less energy with 5G than with LTE, but it will take a concerted effort that goes beyond networks to include energy transmission, generation, and still better efficiency.
That’s where EEs come in. It’s our job to reduce energy consumption. In the March 10 webinar “Why is 5G so power hungry? What can engineers do about it?”, four engineers share their thoughts on the problem and how to solve it.
Brian Zahnstecher, principal at PowerRox, will explain the problem. It’s big.
Tumay Kanar, manager of the mmWave IC design team at Renesas, will look at components such as power amplifiers and their efficiency.
Chris Mayer, ADI Fellow and director of the Wireless Systems Group at Analog Devices, will look at other components in the 5G radio.
Saad Ahmad, who leads the 5G Core Network Standardization Project at InterDigital, will look at how network configuration and architectures affect energy consumption.