An examination of the 5G radio in Google Pixel 6 Pro

An examination of the 5G radio in Google Pixel 6 Pro

Contributing author: Radu Trandafir


At the beginning of September we were pondering the rumors about a Samsung 5G modem that was predicted to show up on the US shores in the form of the 5G implementation solution for the yet to be released Google Pixel 6.

Now that we have had the chance to inspect several of the Pixel 6 Pro phones we can positively state that it is real: Google has introduced a Pixel phone to rule them all (Pixel phones, that is). The Google Pixel 6 includes:

  • A brand new and innovative Google Tensor SoC (designed and architected by Google with various contributions from Samsung, truth be told: the device tree file system analysis of the Linux kernel for Google Pixel 6 that TechInsights has carried out is showing that some blocks of the Google GS101 Tensor processor are shared with Exynos)
  • A full 5G radio solution developed by Samsung (from modem to antenna); this would be a first for the US market, where a major 5G phone without a Qualcomm modem was not available until now!
  • Lots of cameras and more
The story of a 5G Pixel from the Pixel 6 Pro

Google Pixel 6 Pro Teardown Analysis

Download the teardown analysis brief below with an exclusive high resolution bpoly die photo of the Google Tensor application processor.

Now that Oppo is looking into developing their own SoC solutions for higher-end phones – expected sometime in 2023/2024 according to Nikkei – Qualcomm’s dominance in the smartphone market appears to be diminishing.

The inner workings of the 5G radio inside the Google Pixel 6 Pro, non-US version

Shannon A5123

Figure 1. The Samsung 5G modem, labelled here as Shannon A5123 (#3).

FR1 (sub-6 GHz) transceiver package

Figure 2. The FR1 (sub-6 GHz) transceiver package (#4) can be seen to the right of the modem, labelled as Samsung Shannon 5511.

Footprint for the FR2 (mm-wave) transceiver

Figure 3. The footprint for the FR2 (mm-wave) transceiver package missing in the non-US version of the Pixel 6 Pro phone.

The FR2/mmWave specific components from a Google Pixel 6 Pro, US model

Shannon 5710

Figure 4. The Samsung 5G FR2 (mm-wave) IF transceiver, labelled here as Shannon 5710.

Dual mm-wave antenna module made by Murata

Figure 5. The Pixel 6 Pro (US model) - dual mm-wave antenna module made by Murata. Except for its dual module nature, it's very similar on the outside with the Murata/LSI AiP modules we've seen in iPhone 12 & iPhone 13 (using QC dies though!)

Antenna modules relative to the housing of the Google Pixel 6 Pro

Figure 6. Shows the location of the antenna modules relative to the housing of the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

Antenna modules as positioned inside the Google Pixel 6 Pro

Figure 7. Shows the antenna modules as positioned inside the Google Pixel 6 Pro. The three interconnect sections are easy to see.

Comments and observations:

High level functional blocks appear to be similar to the Qualcomm solution: a single modem package feeding two branches (FR1 and FR2) with their corresponding transceiver solutions (see Diagram 1).

The antenna in package (AiP) consists of a dual antenna package with the FR2 transceiver located on one PCB and being connected to the FR2 IF transceiver (Shannon 5710) over a FFC (Flat Flex Cable) connection.

Expect all silicon to be Samsung, possibly with similar functionality to what we have seen in the Qualcomm designs. When we analyzed the Qualcomm AiP QTM525 and QTM535 we noted that there were more FR2 FE transceivers than needed for the antenna arrays in the AiP. This means it’s possible to have cascaded antenna arrays like in the Pixel 6 Pro implementation, where the active components and one antenna array are located on one module connected to a second one, a passive antenna array module.

High-level block diagram of the 5G radio in the Google Pixel 6 Pro

Diagram 1: High-level block diagram of the 5G radio in the Google Pixel 6 Pro (US model)

(*) Expect this module to include mm-wave transceivers with PA and LNA as well as control circuits for beam steering and PMIC, capable of driving two dual-polarized antenna arrays like the QC SMR525.



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