Our expert: Gary Xiong and his Intel teammates across the world from the Next Generation and Standards Group are figuring out how advanced 5G and 6G will carry even more throughput and responsiveness compared with today’s wireless standards. In recognition of Xiong’s work to invent the technologies that will underpin future wireless networks, the wireless standards engineer was named Intel’s 2020 Inventor of the Year.
‘A crazy idea that bumps against the ceiling of material physics’: Today, Xiong and his team are focused on overcoming some of the limitations of 5G bands and getting ready for 6G. “We’re always pushing the boundary of what is physically possible by going back to basics and coming up with new ideas to overcome current obstacles,” he says. One idea Xiong and team are working on is changing the waveforms of future wireless signals, which could significantly affect how base station silicon is designed. “We’re imagining super wideband spectrums at perhaps 10 GHz or more that will mean at least 10x more throughput and 10x less latency than today’s 5G,” Xiong explains. “It’s a crazy idea that bumps against the ceiling of material physics, but we’ve already started early research and we’re confident we can pull this off.” If successful, this project – known in the industry as “terahertz communications” – will cement the groundwork for 6G and beyond.
Persistence pays off: Every telecommunications carrier adopts the same wireless blueprint, which is why Xiong spends a lot of time extending Intel’s leadership and amplifying Intel’s voice in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) – a worldwide consortium established in 1998 that sets unified protocols for mobile telecommunications. At these 3GPP meetings, “Intel, alongside our fellow travelers in the industry, will make our case for why our solutions are better,” he explains. In one memorable 3GPP meeting that ran five days with minimal breaks, Gary was able to win over a tough crowd. “We finally got Intel’s proposals adopted in advanced 5G specifications, which was immensely gratifying and very cool to see,” Xiong says.
‘We’ve only scratched the surface’: Despite working with invisible elements – wireless connectivity, waveforms and standards – Xiong remains passionate about his work. “We’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible,” he says, “and Intel has a ton more to contribute in this space.”