6G-Research and Innovation Cluster (6G-RIC)
Open and secure 6G-technologies: Global market opportunity for Germany
The "6G Research and Innovation Cluster" (6G-RIC) pursues the goal of developing mobile radio systems with open interfaces across all technological boundaries. The focus is on technology development and the construction of a powerful test infrastructure. The test infrastructure will enable the testing of new technology components under realistic and open conditions. This will accelerate direct recycling and ensure the development of a new ecosystem in the medium term.
The 6G-Research and Innovation Cluster aims to develop the essential key technologies of future 6G- communication systems. These key technologies should be tested at an early stage in the form of so-called technology demonstrators. The new technologies from the areas of sub-THz communication, co-design of software and hardware along with virtualized and programmatically controllable campus networks will enable new applications in a 6G-infrastructure. At the same time, they will rapidly advance the development of a 6G-infrastructure. As part of the 6G-RIC, the newly developed technology components from the laboratory and test environment will be brought together in overarching end-to-end demonstrators and presented in the context of selected 6G use cases.
(08/2021 - 07/2025)
70 million euros
(50 million approved)
(Universities and research institutes)
The figure illustrates the expansion of the design dimensions during the transition from 5G to 6G: When designing 5G, the focus was on using the scarce frequency resource as efficiently as possible by using spatial signal processing. With the availability of large bandwidths at higher frequencies into the sub-THz range, the spectrum scarcity will be alleviated, while the importance of optimal utilization of the energy resource will continue to increase. The additional 6G-resources "Computing" and "Data" will be tapped by the (artificial) intelligence (AI) integrated into the network. In addition to this "network intelligence", "security by design" is a central element of the 6G-system concept in 6G-RIC.
Technological Innovation Areas
The mass marketable development of highest signal bandwidths in the sub-THz range for mobile applications requires novel energy- and cost-efficient transceiver technologies. Within the 6G-RIC, the emerging bandwidth limitations of existing communication infrastructures are addressed in such a way that in the future not only at least 100 Gbit/s can be robustly transmitted in aggregate, but also at the same time the energy and cost efficiency for sub-THz transmission will be increased by at least a factor of 2 compared to the current state of the art. These ambitious goals are ensured in the 6G-RIC by, among other things, trough optimal fusion (hybrid integration of semiconductor technologies - RF CMOS, SiGe and III-V compound semiconductors).
Due to the continued need for higher data rates coupled with the trend towards using higher frequencies, MIMO will remain an essential part of 6G-networks and is therefore an important research topic in 6G-RIC. The goal of 6G-RIC is to implement a user-centric co-design of hardware and software for cell-less operation and distributed MIMO systems while taking into account practical aspects such as uncertain and missing channel information, near-field/far-field behavior, power amplifier nonlinearities, antenna coupling effects, non-stationarities, and hybrid digital-to-analog hardware architectures with low-resolution A/D converters.
6G-networks will not only enable new applications with extreme bandwidths and high reliability combined with low latency at the same time, but also offer integrated radio sensing services such as localization and detection (keyword: network as sensor). This is of particular importance for applications such as extended reality as well as networked robotics and autonomous systems. Furthermore, radio sensing will enable 3D mapping of the radio environment across different frequencies.
The vision of extreme IoT (Internet of Things) connectivity required for diverse MTC applications has yet to be realized. In particular, the current approach of modifying existing wireless systems designed primarily for "person-to-person" communication to meet IoT connectivity requirements has often proven inefficient and not scalable. There is also a lack of consideration of E2E-aspects as part of the design, i.e., the entire protocol stack from the physical layer to the application layer. Therefore, there is a focus here on further development of coding schemes for uncoordinated multiple access (random access), including new techniques of "unsourced" random access in combination with massive MIMO - receivers, polar code - constructions (including polar-coded modulation and waveform), and code design for very short blocks with incomplete (or missing) channel state information.
From both an economic and societal point of view, it is essential to consider aspects of communication security as well as data protection (privacy) as integral components of the design from the very beginning. In this TIA, a security architecture for 6G-networks is designed that ensures security-by-design. In addition, the threat of quantum hardware attacks, which is becoming real, is systematically considered and defense mechanisms based on post-quantum cryptography and physical layer security are developed (the latter provides information-theoretic security). Another focus is on the detection of attacks (such as distributed denial-of-service attacks or the targeted injection of messages causing instabilities) at the level of the analog radio channel. For this purpose, machine learning methods are applied for detection. In addition, appropriate countermeasures are designed and prototypically implemented.
The autonomous, scalable and flexible management of a virtualized, disaggregated 6G network requires a new self-organizing multi-governance network management and appropriate abstractions of the hardware and software infrastructure components. A new multi-governance network management (as described) must also comprehensively address aspects such as automation, adaptation, privacy, and security, and provide end-to-end orchestration functionality to coherently and continuously adapt the system to requirements and available resources, enable mobility configuration and QoS management, and provide flexibility in the data and control plane through new abstractions and programmability.