Huawei has developed custom chips that replace the FPGAs previously bought from US companies Xilinx and Intel/Altera. Those were the only major components of 5G cell site radios that were hard to source in Asia. Huawei has shipped 200,000 5G radios in 2019 and is ready to produce 1,500,000 or more in 2020.
“We carried out the testing in August and September, and from October on we will start scale production,” according to Ren. Reuters also reports Huawei’s Will Zhang believes,” the performance of the U.S.-free base stations was ‘no worse’ and the company ‘has had positive surprises'”.
FPGAs are semi-custom ships that replace multiple chips on a circuit board. They are slower and use more power than a custom-designed chip, so mostly are used for first trials and short runs.
It takes several months and costs millions to produce a dedicated chip. The industry practice is to switch from FPGA’s when the design is set and tens of thousands of units need to be produced. ZTE also has a dedicated chip; Nokia and Ericsson are rumored to be working on same.(more…)