Arm has a wide interest in 5G, as it will be a transformative technology for a range of applications and markets. Focusing specifically on markets where Arm has a foothold, 5G will enable a whole new range of technological innovation in the automotive industry, the internet of things (IoT), infrastructure and mobile computing. Just think about the possibilities of autonomous driving, smart cities and smart homes, and advanced mobile networks that will be enabled by 5G. While 5G is not just about changing how consumers interact and use their devices, the impact will still be profound.
Back at the start of 2019, we talked about getting devices ‘5G-ready’, with over 1.5 billion 5G-capable smartphone devices likely to be in circulation by 2024. Alongside the actual device technology, the user experience on a variety of devices, such as smartphones, smart TVs, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, PCs and wearables, will be fundamentally transformed by the 5G rollout, which is beginning in 2019. 5G will mean far faster speeds, far lower latency and far faster and more ubiquitous connectivity for devices – especially for high bandwidth applications. As a result, due to 5G, current use cases on devices will substantially improve and, at the same time, completely new use cases will be created.
Before looking at these use cases, it is important to consider how consumer trends fit into all of this. Results from a survey of over 5,000 consumers by Ovum, an independent analyst and consultancy firm specializing in telecommunications, media and technology industries, show that between 20 and 30 percent of consumers plan to increase the usage of many services on their devices in the future. Therefore, these services – and the actual devices too – will need to be faster and better. This is where 5G comes into play, enabling more responsive and reliable connections on devices, particularly for compute-intensive tasks, such as video streaming and viewing, AR and VR and mobile gaming.
AR and VR are two transformative technologies set to revolutionize the consumption of content for both consumers and businesses, from gaming and videos to education and training. However, both are very compute-intensive tasks, with abundant amounts of data needing to be shifted from devices to the cloud. The transfer of large sets of data presents latency and speed problems when using AR and VR on devices. AR and VR applications can be very sensitive to network performance and connectivity issues, with any minor disruption inhibiting the overall user experience. Both technologies require an efficient, and sizeable, increase in network capacity.
Fortunately, 5G will provide the speed, bandwidth and latency requirements to improve the AR and VR user experience. The high-speed 5G connection between the cloud and the device will enable fast and immersive AR and VR with uncompromised quality of experience. For full AR and VR immersion, the 5G-enabled ultra-low latency – down to 1 ms – is critical. Meanwhile, 5G-enabled improvements in video – through new 8K and 360° viewing experiences – and mobile gaming – through immersive 4K gaming – will support the development of AR and VR.
Mobile gaming ‘on-the-go’ is set to become more dynamic following the 5G rollout. This is timely, as the popularity of mobile gaming has never been higher. According to the market intelligence agency Newzoo, 2018 was the year when revenues from mobile gaming overtook revenues on console and PC-based gaming for the very first time, contributing to more than half of gaming revenues worldwide ($70.3 billion). This high growth is being enabled by mobile gaming moving towards very popular high-fidelity, multi-user games, such as Fortnite and PUBG.
The faster connectivity of 5G will offer more responsive and immersive 4K mobile gaming experience at 90 fps, representing a significant step-up from what is currently possible on mobile devices. This will allow users to remain connected to their compute-intensive, high-fidelity games ‘on-the-go’. It will also enable real-time multiplayer games that use immersive technologies like AR and VR.
In addition, technological advancements have led the gaming industry towards cloud gaming, which involves ubiquitous and convenient real time streaming of games. However, in order to fully experience cloud gaming, internet access with a guaranteed throughput of not less than 25 Mbps and latency not exceeding 20-30 ms to the cloud are mandatory requirements. You can start to see why the 5G rollout becomes so important to gaming’s future.
Users are spending an increasing amount of time both streaming and sharing videos. The Ericsson Mobility Report from November 2018 states that video traffic on mobile networks is forecast to grow by around 35 percent annually through to 2024. The main drivers for the increase in video traffic are more video sharing and streaming services, changing user behaviour (e.g. consumers wanting to consume video anytime, anywhere on their mobile devices), evolving mobile devices with larger screens and resolutions and emerging immersive media formats, such as HD/UHD, 360-degree video, AR and VR. According to an Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab Insight Report from May 2019, smartphone users estimate that in the next five years they will consume three hours’ more video weekly on their mobile devices away from home, with one hour of this predicted to be on AR/VR smart glasses.
Live video is a type of content that is becoming increasingly popular on social networks, particularly for people watching live sports or using cloud gaming. Social networks can also be used by people to live stream their own video content, which gets viewed almost instantly by others on the relevant social network. Currently, around half of all mobile data traffic is sourced from live video uploads.
The challenge for devices and systems is the sheer amount of data being produced as a result of these increasing video demands. 5G will bring higher-quality streaming to devices, as well as the ability to live-stream to bigger audiences. Additionally, the faster speed of the 5G network can facilitate quicker and more interactive communication with other social network users during the live streaming.
Consumers worldwide are already enthusiastically purchasing devices that are providing 4K viewing experiences, with 8K TVs set to be available soon. However, 8K video using data rates of over 100 Mbps will lead to a six-fold increase in demand for bandwidth, with 5G services helping to manage these high bandwidth demands. Without 5G, 8K video will either not be possible or too slow. Content streaming services will also benefit from 5G due to the far higher speeds and improved latency. In fact, an Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab Insight Report flags a potential trend of the 5G rollout leading to consumers transitioning from cable TV to 5G streaming services.
The greater connectivity enabled by 5G promises to be a ‘game-changer’ for users. According to an Arm-commissioned report from Creative Strategies, 23 percent of consumers note connectivity as a top three feature for their next laptop, yet only six percent claim to own a laptop with a 4G modem. A key feature of the Window on Arm PC devices is the ability to stay ‘always connected’ through its LTE modem, which would be replicated and then expanded to 5G.
The super-fast 5G network will enable users to remain securely connected to their laptops while they are ‘on-the-go’. This means constant connectivity for email, Skype and other productivity apps that are used most by consumers and, most importantly, often require an internet connection. At COMPUTEX 2019, Qualcomm and Lenovo announced the world’s first 5G-enabled laptop, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx platform, which is based on Arm Cortex technology. This laptop is the start of a new generation of Always On, Always Connected PCs.
Connecting to public WiFi networks – which can be inconsistent, costly and pose a number of security risks – could no longer be a necessary for users. Even home WiFi could be a thing of the past following the 5G rollout. Today’s consumers are demanding a perfect network performance, with the home WiFi connection proving to be inconsistent for many households. With more screens and more users, home broadband is coming under strain. According to an Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab Insight Report, when presented with the idea of 5G home wireless broadband, 8 out of 10 of those already looking to switch broadband providers would consider either replacing or supplementing their existing broadband with it.
The value of the smart home healthcare market is expected to hit $30 billion by 2025, with 5G providing the ubiquitous, affordable, high capacity and secure connectivity to drive this increased investment. 5G will improve how consumers interact with the wearable devices and how healthcare professionals interpret their data. This will provide more detailed real-time health management information for consumers, with opportunities for the healthcare industry to develop a fully personalized medical advisory service connected by 5G. Greater information will be at the fingertips of healthcare professionals, meaning health diagnoses can be made quicker without needing to visit the patient.
Arm’s high-performing and power efficient Cortex-A processors promise to be at the heart of the new 5G-ready devices, enabling a higher performance that can handle the increased speed and throughput from 5G. In May 2019, we launched our latest Arm Cortex-A77 CPU, which enables advanced use cases on devices that will be further supported by the 5G rollout, such as AR and machine learning. The new CPU aims to get devices 5G-ready through a range of performance improvements that deliver premium experiences for consumers on their devices, from the faster deployment of applications and technologies to constant performance for sustained workloads. Already MedaTek has announced a SoC with an integrated 5G modem that will employ the brand-new Arm Cortex-A77 CPU and Arm Mali-G77 GPU (which was launched alongside Cortex-A77 in May this year). Both sets of IP aim to deliver next-generation premium mobile experiences for the 5G world.
5G will allow consumers to do far more with their devices. From more immersive experiences with video, AR and VR and mobile gaming to greater connectivity and productivity through laptops and wearables, the 5G rollout will fundamentally improve user experiences. In addition, 5G will support the future development of devices, such as foldable screens, holographic projections, 360-degree cameras and AR/VR smart glasses, allowing consumers to make the most of this new exciting innovation.
With all these positive changes at the fingertips of users, having more performant devices to meet the power, performance and compute challenges that are likely to emerge from 5G will be vital. Already Arm has products and solutions that will support our partners as the world and the trillions of devices worldwide start to become 5G-ready.
Learn about Arm's 5G solutions