Inside Huawei’s R&D: A look at the core technologies powering Huawei's 5G networks and equipment
By Omar Khan
With the forthcoming arrival of 5G technology, Chinese tech-giant Huawei has poured in substantial investment and efforts into its research and development division.
According to company figures, some 45 percent of the company’s workforce belongs to the R&D department, and is comprised of more than 80,000 staff. In 2018, R&D spending reached 101.5 billion RMB, an equivalent of nearly 15 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 14 percent of all revenue. In Huawei’s recently released 2019 H1 report, the company said they expect this year’s R&D investment figures to reach around 120 billion RMB.
Some of the company’s fundamental research labs are situated in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan, where the advancement and development of Huawei’s 5G base stations are being carried out. These base stations are essentially the units that will emit 5G signals.
One of the core technologies for the base stations is developed at Huawei’s Thermal Laboratory. The lab was established back in 2000, and is now comprised of more than 130 engineers and experts. They’re dedicated to exploring innovative heat dissipation technologies with higher performance, greater efficiency and stronger cooling capabilities. Scientists say this is because 5G chipsets run at a much higher temperature than previous generation chips, such as 3 and 4G.
Engineers also use special coating technology on the units. The 5G base stations will eventually be placed in various types of environments, and will have to withstand the forces of nature.
The thermal lab also collaborates with international research institutions, providing support for Huawei’s diverse technological leadership in the 5G field.
Another integral unit is the Structure Material Lab. Developed here are metal, non-metallic, ultra precision designs and other types of structures. This lab is responsible for the innovation of materials that will protect and ensure the reliability of 5G base stations.
As consumers await the 5G rollout, Huawei is already testing its 5G base stations. The company has partnered with transport authorities, hospitals and parks, providing these locations with 5G network coverage.