InterDigital completes EPIC project

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InterDigital, a mobile and video technology research and development company, has announced the successful completion of the Horizon 2020 Enabling Practical Wireless Tb/s Communications with Next Generation Channel Coding (EPIC) project. A consortium of eight partners, including research and development companies, telecoms vendors and academia, EPIC has developed implementation-ready Forward Error Correction (FEC) technology in all three major code families—Turbo, LDPC and Polar—to meet the future cost and performance requirements of wireless terabytes per second (Tbps) technologies for 6G.

To support 6G’s higher data rates, a shift from GHz bands (mmWave bands) to Terahertz (THz) bands, including 100GHz spectrum and above, is required. As part of the EPIC project, InterDigital and the consortium partners successfully demonstrated high-throughput 100Gbps wireless baseband encoder and decoder technology, showcasing the substantial progress being made to deliver THz communications.

The EPIC project focused on the development of FEC algorithms, which detect and correct errors in transmitted data to improve throughput rates when encoding and decoding data. While FEC algorithms are critical to the future commercialization of THz and wireless Tbps technologies, FEC is also one of the most complex and computationally intense blocks in the digital baseband chain.

“We’re very pleased with the progress that the EPIC consortium made in the development of critical encoder and decoder technology which is helping to solve the FEC throughput challenge of 6G,” said Dr. Erdal Arikan, inventor of Polar codes and founder of Polaran Inc. “The successful project outcomes and demo with InterDigital and our EPIC peers is proof of our successful research and development efforts to enable the future of wireless technologies, beyond the current limitations we are facing with 5G.”

“The 5G we see today is only just scratching the surface in terms of delivering low latency and ultra-reliable communications. 5G was never going to happen all at once; in order to achieve true, ultra-high throughput capabilities for 6G, THz and wireless Tbps communications are key,” said Dr. Onur Sahin, Member of Technical Staff at InterDigital Europe. “FEC technology will be critical to the future commercialization of THz and wireless Tbps technologies, and our latest work on the EPIC project is playing an instrumental role in realizing the future of wireless technology. The outcome of this project is an important contribution to commercially practical THz and Tbps technologies and will add significant momentum to the development of this field.”

Technical Overview

The EPIC project developed three vital components—encoder/decoder algorithms, technology IP blocks, and virtual chipset products. Using a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) testbed from Polaran, the EPIC 100Gbps wireless demo exhibited practical ultra-high throughput FEC solutions for encoder and decoder technology. The demo showcased the feasibility of wireless Tbps data rate in a real-time demonstration reaching 206 Gbps, and the corresponding ASIC solutions topping 1000Gbps.

EPIC developed FEC algorithms in all three major code families—Turbo, LDPC and Polar codes. These code families have all been prominent technologies in 3G, 4G and 5G, and will continue to be critical to the development of 6G. As part of its role within EPIC, InterDigital participated in the development of Polar code advancements. InterDigital developed new Polar code designs, helping to deliver the ultra-high throughput Tbps data rates.

Alongside the 100Gbps demo, the EPIC project also delivered world leading novel channel coding solutions and ASIC virtual silicon architectures. These architectures are required in 6G devices and end-user terminals, and the FPGA testbed was a verification that the ASIC virtual silicon architectures work.

The project, which ran from September 2017 to November 2020, aimed to develop the backbone for future communication systems and highlight the future commercial viability of 6G systems. Potential applications vary from ultra-small form factors that enable wireless chip-to-chip communications to ultra-high throughputs enabling better VR technology capabilities that deliver a true virtual presence.

Background

Over the past 40 years InterDigital has been at the forefront of research and development in wireless and video technologies. The company has played a leading role in the development of 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G and now 6G, and has made 4,000 contributions to major wireless standards. InterDigital is a major player in many 5G projects and testbeds, participating in projects such as 5G-FLAME. 5G-FUDGE, 5G-CORAL, 5G-DIVE, 5Growth, 5G Smart Tourism, and many more. InterDigital’s work with EPIC and contribution to the 100Gbps demo is another example of the important role it is playing in the development of future technologies.

The EPIC consortium is comprised of eight partners from seven countries, including InterDigital Europe, Interuniversitair Micro-Electronica Centrum (IMEC), Polaran, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, Ericsson, Institut Mines-Télécom, Creonic, and Technikon.

EPIC is just one of six projects linked to the development of THz communications funded by the European Commission and that ran from 2017 to 2020. Dr. Onur Sahin from InterDigital discussed EPIC’s role in the development of 6G-era channel coding at the Third Towards THz Comms Workshop (3TTCW), which took place on Friday March 12th 2021.

On Wednesday April 28th EPIC project leaders will detail the FEC algorithms developed and the groundbreaking impact it will have on future 6G devices, architectures, and roadmaps in a webinar hosted by 6GWorld.


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