OpenRF in 2021: The Year in Review

By Open RF Association President Kevin Schoenrock

As we approach 2022, I wanted to reflect on the past year, which has been a busy but successful one for the Open RF Association. Since our launch in October of 2020, we have made progress on our goal to create a 5G ecosystem of interoperable hardware and software across multi-mode radio frequency (RF) front-end and chipset platforms to improve time-to-market, improve supply chain, and reduce overall costs across the breadth of OEM consumer mobile products. I am proud to announce that we ended the year on a strong note with the release of our inaugural OpenRF specification! Read on for some highlights from 2021.

    1. In December, we announced the release of the OpenRF Version 1.0.0 Specification. This specification provides the industry with a path to compliant RF front-end devices that are capable of seamless integration with 5G chipsets. It introduces the first OpenRF standardized register maps, OpenRF hardware abstraction layer (HAL) and an established hardware port naming convention. The release of our initial specification is the culmination of the efforts of our working groups since OpenRF’s launch in October 2020. Read the press release for details
    2. In January, we signed a liaison agreement with the MIPI Alliance. The MIPI Alliance is an international organization serving industries that develop mobile and mobile-influenced devices focused on the design and promotion of hardware and software interfaces that simplify the integration of components built into a device, from the antenna and modem to peripherals and the application processor. The agreement allows the two organizations to engage in joint collaborative projects relating to RF front-end architecture, design, and technology. As there is some crossover between OpenRF and the MIPI Alliance regarding register map templates, the agreement outlines a framework for discussion and collaboration that will benefit the industry. Read the press release to learn more.
    3. It was a big year for membership growth, as we welcomed six new member companies to the Open RF Association. NI (formerly National Instruments) is a leading developer of automated test and measurement systems that help engineers solve some of the world’s toughest challenges. NI chairs the OpenRF Compliance Working Group and will work with OpenRF to address the interoperability challenges facing the 5G ecosystem. Read the press release for details.
      MixComm is the leading mmWave Antennas to Algorithms™ company developing transformative solutions for emerging wireless applications and markets. Read MixComm’s press release regarding their membership.
      UNISOC is a leading global supplier of core chipsets for mobile communications and IoT, and brings its RF Integrated Circuit (RFIC) expertise to the association. Learn more in the press release. Other new Associate Members include Rohde & Schwarz, TMYTEK, and SmartDV Technologies.
    4. We hosted a Microwave Journal webinar: “An Introduction to OpenRF: A New Approach to 5G Multi-Mode RF Front-End Device Challenges” in September. The talk was presented by OpenRF Association President Kevin Schoenrock and Working Group 1: Register Map co-chair David Southcombe. Working Group 2: Software API co-chair Surya Pappu and Working Group 3: Hardware RF front end/RFIC co-chair Peter Bacon joined for Q&A. The webinar covered a variety of topics, including the OpenRF Phase 1.0.0 Specification, Working Group overviews, OpenRF’s unique approach to meeting 5G multi-mode RF front-end challenges, and the benefits of an open 5G ecosystem. We had a great turnout, and the webinar was an excellent opportunity for the industry to learn more about what we’re doing. If you weren’t able to attend, the talk is available to view on-demand on the Microwave Journal website.

Overall, 2021 was a great year for the Open RF Association, despite the challenges of the global pandemic and travel restrictions. We look forward to continuing our progress on the next phase of the OpenRF specification. If your company is interested in contributing to the OpenRF ecosystem or accessing the final specification, consider joining OpenRF as a general or associate member. You can learn more about the membership benefits on our website.