Nokia on Monday announced ReefShark, its new lineup of chips meant to enable 5G connectivity in radio frequency and baseband units. The Finnish telecom giant outlined the compact form factor as one of the main selling points of the silicon, claiming it's capable of cutting the size of massive MIMO antennas in half and can significantly lower the power consumption of baseband units. Compared to contemporary solutions, ReefShark chipsets use approximately 64 percent less power and promise to triple the throughput of Nokia's RAN technologies. The company's platforms also boast native support for machine learning and other artificial intelligence services meant to allow for real-time optimization of radio resources that's entirely automated and can hence account for constantly evolving infrastructural requirements that are likely to be a defining characteristic of 5G systems.
Nokia's ReefShark chips were also built with network slicing in mind as the virtualization technique is expected to be an integral component of 5G management, dedicating certain virtualized portions of future wireless networks to individual device groups. With the Internet of Things likely being one of the first product categories that will see massive global adoption rates simultaneously with 5G deployment, network slicing solutions should play an important role in managing hundreds of millions of connected devices in the near future. Nokia will start shipping the chips en masse in the third quarter of the year and is planning to offer them in the form of plug-in units for its existing AirScale baseband modules. The software itself will be entirely upgradeable to support future 5G connectivity, with ReefShark promising to increase the maximum throughput of Nokia's technologies to up to 84Gbps per module. The units presently have a 28Gbps peak which Nokia claims is already the highest in the industry. The modules will have native support for chaining which can theoretically deliver a 6Tbps throughput, according to the company.
The ReefShark series is a result of a long-term collaboration between a number of Nokia's units in Finland and California. The chips were announced separately from Nokia's Future X network architecture but are meant to work toward the same goal, i.e. providing a basis for the next wireless revolution that promises to reshape the global economy and lead to the creation of new products, services, and businesses. Nokia is presently collaborating with 30 wireless carriers that will start receiving large volumes of ReefShark chips later this year and more of them are expected to adopt the technology going forward. Nokia's Future X and ReefShark solutions will be showcased late next month at MWC 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.