Memory // Storage

Five ways to the 5G future with Micron

By Dan Bingham - 2020-04-16

The 5G mobile broadband rollout has begun! 5G mobile phones are projected to achieve blazing fast bandwidth of 20 Gb/s, but the impact of 5G will be felt far beyond this. It’s not just about holding a faster smartphone in your hand. Look up and see the wave of innovation for 5G-enabled systems already visible on the horizon.

Vast and fast is 5G’s major theme, and Micron memory and storage help enable this revolution. Technology is already in place from Micron and our ecosystem partners to begin delivering the scalability, capability, security and efficiency that 5G promises. The move from 4G broadband to 5G exponentially increases the amount of data that systems need to consume, filter and store. Trapped within that data are critical business insights, smarter artificial intelligence (AI) training models, and answers to questions we have not yet dreamed to ask. Latency, bandwidth and security needs ― and the sheer volume of connected devices ― require that embedded systems and intelligent edge computing take on more of the load.

5G brings ambitious goals in throughput, latency and connectivity


5G: A Wellspring of Innovation

The scale of the numbers makes clear the potential for transformation. 5G adds a 20x boost in throughput (up to 20 Gb/s), drops system latency by 10x (to below 1 ms), and accommodates a 10x jump in number of connections at the same time. It pairs these capabilities with a significant reduction in power consumption over existing networks, all with nearly unlimited availability and area coverage.

The bigger picture on 5G is that this improved connectivity, bandwidth and responsiveness are paving the way for a whole new range of use cases never possible before. For the new devices in homes, enterprises, smart cities, smart factories and beyond to effectively deliver on this promise, foundational infrastructure must also deliver.

Micron is uniquely positioned to accelerate 5G across all points of the 5G spectrum — from the cloud and data center to the enterprise, to networking, and to the smart devices at the network edge. Because Micron memory and storage are workload-optimized and employed end to end, we can help ensure that data moves seamlessly and quickly across the 5G network. We believe that faster access to data will accelerate information into real intelligence.

To be clear, 5G proves how the future is bound to data. Micron has been working with 5G ecosystem partners and customers to build the infrastructure and ensure all data is securely connected. Now we are helping organizations to capitalize on this new connected environment with data-intensive applications and workloads. Here are five ways Micron products are ushering in the 5G future.

Mobile: Next-Gen Memory

For mobile broadband, 5G’s faster speed, lower latency and greater capacity will transform ultra-high-definition video, virtual reality and other advanced applications into on-the-go apps on smartphones or tablets. Micron mobile memory products balance performance and power efficiency, offering capacity and fast data access in smaller footprints.

Micron’s position in mobile is strong and getting stronger. For example, as Xiaomi’s memory technology partner, we were the first to get LPDDR5 DRAM into mass production for smartphone manufacturing. Leading-edge smartphones, like the Xiaomi Mi 10, demand superior power efficiency and faster data access speeds to meet growing consumer demand for AI and 5G functionality. Micron LPDDR5 memory allows 5G smartphones to process data at peak speeds of up to 6.4 Gb/s, which is critical for preventing 5G data bottlenecks.

For fast, immersive graphics at the edge, our GDDR6 (graphics memory) provides 16 Gb/s bandwidth in a small size. We offer the lowest power-consumption DRAM in the industry for mobile applications, based on surveys and direct feedback from our customers.

We’re also sampling the industry’s first universal flash storage (UFS) multichip package (uMCP) with LPDDR5 DRAM to provide high-density and low-power storage that fits on slim and compact midrange smartphone designs.

Automotive: Smart Connected Cars

5G-based cellular V2X (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, collectively called C-V2X communication) is an essential technology that will allow vehicles to “speak” with each other, with the city infrastructure, and (in time) with pedestrians. 5G technology has inherent low latency and, once it becomes pervasive, will be perfect for a C-V2X communications network backbone. This will provide another set of essential “eyes and ears” incorporated into designs of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), which promise us autonomous cars soon. C-V2X is starting to be deployed worldwide. By 2024, it will be required by the NHTSA in the U.S. and Euro NCAPs (new car assessment programs) to achieve 5-star safety ratings.

Today, Micron’s automotive-qualified storage and memory are being embedded in many C-V2X solutions and feeding embedded AI processors used in autonomous driving and infotainment. Automotive-qualified memory technology helps guarantee critical and nonnegotiable specifications such as quality, thermal operating range and robustness.

Because C-V2X is based on wireless technologies, it allows cars to see around corners, look through walls, and anticipate pedestrian behavior, unlike traditional camera, LiDAR and radar sensors. These capabilities can greatly reduce the number of traffic accidents. Cooperative communication among all vehicles using 5G in a given area can also reduce traffic jams and increase fuel efficiency.

Micron is also working with ecosystem partners to develop a smart car application-specific version of Micron’s deep learning accelerator (DLA) technology designed to be flexible and scalable while delivering the low power and high performance needed for an agile edge-inference solution that uses machine learning.

The Internet of Things (IoT): Almost 42 Billion Devices

While mobile broadband provides a highly distributed computing environment to deploy applications and services as well as to store and process content close to mobile users, intelligent edge computing will also gain huge benefits from 5G — especially when combined with innovations in AI and machine learning (ML). Expanding beyond connected phones and tablets, 5G will also connect the billions of smart devices and systems that are part of the internet of things (IoT). Human-, system- and machine-generated data from the IoT is a huge contributor to the current data deluge. We can expect 79.4ZB of IoT data to be generated in 2025, says the International Data Corporation (IDC).

IoT devices at the network edge will eventually, though not immediately, be connected via 5G networks at the planned 1 millisecond latency rate. And the pipeline is huge, with up to 1 million devices per square kilometer connected at once. These fast connections are needed to enable the near-real-time analytics and insights that IoT has been promising for years.

Data streamed from 41.6 billion devices and systems will be a lot to store, process and analyze. Micron memory and storage scalability and speed can keep data flowing fast, from the edge to the integrated fog cloud and to the cloud.

Networking: More Peak Throughput

5G will push data centers to grow storage fourfold to handle the mobile broadband connections. Micron’s networking team has been preparing for 5G for the past few years by engaging with OEMs to develop, deliver and advise on the correct products to fulfill the requirements for 5G networking. Our high-bandwidth, low-latency solutions can be counted on to seamlessly speed data transfer from point A to point B.

Now that the broadband rollout has started, Micron’s innovative SSDs and NAND are delivering the storage industry’s highest bandwidth to make data growth and networking seamless.

Including the lowest-latency RLDRAM3, the next-generation mainstream memory with DDR5, the highest-bandwidth solutions with GDDR6 and even nonvolatile mass storage solutions, Micron’s portfolio covers your 5G equipment needs, whether that’s active antenna elements, radio heads, base stations or backbone equipment. Micron networking-grade solutions are built to meet the requirements of our customers’ latest, high-performance designs for 5G NR mobile broadband.

Cloud: Public, Private and Hybrid

The pressure is on: Many of the benefits of 5G move beyond the network and into the cloud and data center. Data centers will have to grow memory and storage four- to tenfold to handle the mobile connections. Latency reduction is also important, as the 5G network requires more than 100 times higher transmission rates and bandwidth than what’s needed on the 4G network. Data will have to be stored, hosted and streamed at volumes and speeds not universally seen yet for 5G to become a reality.

Cloud data centers are the core hub of the 5G digital ecosystem and pivotal in this evolution. Enterprise and cloud storage must complete the transition from hard disk drives (HDDs) to solid-state drives (SSDs) to be ready for 5G.

Micron storage and memory work well with major hypervisors so that, whatever path to virtualized computing you choose, we can accelerate the time to results and help you store your data for the best total cost of ownership (TCO). Our 3D NAND technology, such as our value-priced QLC (quad level cell) SSDs, deliver capacity, density, low latency and high performance. Innovations in DRAM include NVDIMM, a nonvolatile persistent memory solution that combines NAND flash and DRAM.

Want to Learn More?

Micron has the silicon-to-system perspective you need for planning infrastructure. Our collaborative industry relationships are your key to having the best seat in the house as 5G steps onto the stage. Stay up to date by following @MicronTech on Twitter!

Dan Bingham

Dan Bingham

Dan Bingham leads the mobile and client segment in Micron’s technology and business marketing group, with a focus on bringing Micron’s story to life through external messaging, branding, campaigns, and thought leadership programs. Prior to Micron, Dan spent 17 years at Intel Corporation in various marketing roles with an emphasis on desktop and channel initiatives.