Free Trials

Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs

How to Buy

Contact your local sales office to get started on improving your design environment


Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software

  • Altium Designer

    Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout

  • CircuitStudio

    Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool

  • CircuitMaker

    Community Based PCB Design Tool


    Agile PCB Design For Teams

  • Altium 365

    Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor

  • Altium Concord Pro

    Complete Solution for Library Management

  • Octopart

    Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database

  • PDN Analyzer

    Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis

  • See All Extensions

    World-Renowned Technology for Embedded Systems Development

  • Live Courses

    Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide

  • On-Demand Courses

    Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office

  • Altium 365 Viewer

    View & Share electronic designs in your browser

  • Altium Designer 20

    The most powerful, modern and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use


    Annual PCB Design Summit

    • Forum

      Where Altium users and enthusiasts can interact with each other

    • Blog

      Our blog about things that interest us and hopefully you too

    • Ideas

      Submit ideas and vote for new features you want in Altium tools

    • Bug Crunch

      Help make the software better by submitting bugs and voting on what's important

    • Wall

      A stream of events on AltiumLive you follow by participating in or subscribing to

    • Beta Program

      Information about participating in our Beta program and getting early access to Altium tools

    All Resources

    Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience


    Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs

    How to Buy

    Contact your local sales office to get started improving your design environment

    • Documentation

      The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.

    • Training & Events

      View the schedule and register for training events all around the world and online

    • Design Content

      Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs

    • Webinars

      Attend a live webinar online or get instant access to our on demand series of webinars

    • Support

      Get your questions answered with our variety of direct support and self-service options

    • Technical Papers

      Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers.

    • Video Library

      Quick and to-the-point video tutorials to get you started with Altium Designer

    Advantages of Massive MIMO for 5G Cellular Infrastructure

    August 24, 2017

    Big Tex
    Editorial credit: PureRadiancePhoto /

    Even though I ended up here in southern California, I was originally born in Texas. We have a saying that you probably have heard, “everything’s bigger in Texas.” That turned out to be true for me, as I’m the tallest member of my extended family. I’d like to think that the minds behind massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) antenna arrays were also born in Texas. MIMO has been around for years, but massive MIMO is just starting to gain traction, especially in the 5G arena. 5G promises to bring us blazing speeds and low latency, but in order to do that, it needs to leverage massive advantages of MIMO. These benefits include things like excellent spectral efficiency and great user tracking. With this technology, 5G will become a reality.

    What is Massive MIMO Technology?

    A lot of people are intimidated when they meet “Texas” head on. For example, when you walk into the Texas state fair and see Big Tex welcoming you in. In the same way, massive MIMO can be a bit much at first. So let’s start with normal advantages of MIMO and work our way up to the “massive” scale.

    MIMO stands for multiple input multiple output. This means that a receiver antenna array can receive data from and send data to multiple devices at the same time via the transmitter. In order to achieve this, each array uses multiple antennas. With a massive MIMO antenna and complex signal processing, cell towers can take advantage of various propagation modes to send more data with better reliability.

    A Massive MIMO system is the same concept, just with multiple antennas. MIMO systems may use around 4 transmitters, where massive MIMO will use more like 100 antennas. The more description that massive MIMO will use an excessive number of antennas so that transmitters outnumber users. MIMO antenna allow massive MIMO systems to gain even more advantages than current MIMO.

     Antenna Array
    These antennas will become a thing of the past.

    Benefits of Massive MIMO

    5G Massive MIMO systems are extremely complex, and implementing them will be harder than riding a bronco in the rodeo. However, the assets that massive MIMO have to offer are worth getting thrown off the horse a few times.

    • Spectral Efficiency - This is becoming a very important topic as more and more of the electromagnetic spectrum is being used for various communication protocols. Governments have set aside a wide band of frequencies for 5G, but those spectrums aren’t endless. 5G Massive MIMO is able to leverage its antenna array to focus beams down to individual users. This allows it to achieve spectral efficiencies 10 times better than that of massive MIMO systems used for 4Gat.

    • Energy Efficiency - Texas won’t be producing oil forever, so it’s time to start thinking about energy efficiency for electronic systems as well. In massive MIMO antennas can be used in conjunction to increase the gain of transmitted signals. This means they radiate less power when transmitting data, making for a more energy efficient system.

    • User Tracking - The same thing that makes massive MIMO energy efficient allows it to accurately track individual users. As the antenna beams are focused to produce high gain, their beam widths decrease. Thus, the tower has to track each user with a narrow signal beam. This tracking will give users a better and more reliable connection than the wide area signals that have been used up to now.

    City with wireless network
    5G will need massive MIMO to efficiently connect billions of devices.

    Application to 5G

    Massive MIMO sounds kind of cool, like a ten gallon hat. However, I haven’t bought a ten gallon hat, so why would I buy into massive MIMO? The cellular world is really starting to dig into massive MIMO because 5G needs it. There is a limited amount of spectrum available for 5G, so spectral efficiency is very important. 5G networks will also need to connect to billions of devices. For that to happen they’ll need massive MIMO’s pinpoint accuracy and energy efficiency.

    The US government recently opened up a new part of the high frequency spectrum for 5G technology. That will be very helpful in the future, but for the short term transition period, frequencies below 6 GHz will provide a smoother transition from 4G LTE. It just so happens that massive MIMO operates best at frequencies below 6 GHz. This band is already crowded, so the extra spectral efficiency makes massive MIMO a prime candidate.

    As technology advances our world is becoming more connected. The Internet of Things is taking off, self driving cars are on the horizon, and there are already networks in place for smart cities. 5G is poised to move into all of these arenas, and will need to connect billions of devices. In order to do that it will need massive MIMO to be able to beam data to and from individual devices. Massive MIMO’s energy efficiency will also mean that these networks won’t require another oil boom to power them.

    Massive MIMO is a technology that’s almost as exciting as a rodeo. Almost. Using huge numbers of antennas will allow cell networks to connect large numbers of users efficiently and reliably. Those attributes also happen to be what’s needed in order to implement 5G. With billions of devices coming online and a limited frequency spectrum, 5G will need massive MIMO to help us transition into the future.

    5G is coming, and if you’re not already designing PCBs for it, you might want to start. CircuitStudio® can help you with that. It has a wide range of excellent features that will help you design the next generation of communication PCBs.

    Have more questions about PCB design for 5G? Call an expert at Altium Designer.

    If you happened to be reading this but don't use Altium Designer yet, be sure to check out your own free trial to find out for yourself why Altium Designer is the best professional PCB Design software.

    Share your thoughts and feedback below. We'd love to hear from you.

    most recent articles

    Back to Home