Intel expands 5G network infrastructure offerings in a $25B market
As the telecommunications industry transitions to 5G, the next wave of network transformation represents a $25 billion silicon opportunity by 2023. To benefit from a perfect storm of 5G, edge buildout and pervasive artificial intelligence (AI), Intel today announced an expanded lineup of hardware, software and solutions for network infrastructure, including: enhancements to Intel’s software reference architecture, FlexRAN; Intel® virtualized radio access network (vRAN) dedicated accelerator; network-optimized next-generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable and D processors (code-named “Ice Lake”); and upgraded Intel® Select Solutions for Network Function Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI).
“When you consider the collective impact of the proliferation of fully virtualized cloud architectures combined with the commercialization of 5G, the rise of AI and the growth of the edge, it truly has a multiplier effect that makes each more impactful than it would be on its own. It’s an enormous opportunity for us and our customers to not only deliver new experiences but transform entire industries.”
–Dan Rodriguez, Intel corporate vice president and general manager of the Network Platforms Group
Why It Matters: For the past decade, Intel has been on a journey with the communications industry to transform the network with a software-defined, agile and scalable infrastructure. The next wave of network transformation is further fueled by 5G, driven by the need to deliver both network services and new AI-based edge services across multiple network locations. This wave is driving a rapid transition to cloud native technologies and virtualization with an expected 50% of core network deployments transforming to virtualized networks this year1, and virtualization extending to the radio access network (RAN). Implementing a cloud architecture brings the same server economics that transformed the data center and enhances security by allowing networks to be more rapidly repaired, updated and protected. Intel’s full suite of feature-rich silicon, software and tools– and experience in supporting customers transform networks enable quicker deployment across core, access and edge.
Expanded portfolio offerings include:
- FlexRAN: Intel’s software reference architecture grew to nearly 100 licensees and added enhancements including optimizations to its massive multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) mid-band pipeline for increased bandwidth and support for ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC.) Amdocs, a licensee, today announced FlexRAN integration with its SmartRAN analytics solution.
- Intel® vRAN Dedicated Accelerator ACC100: The low-power and low-cost acceleration solution for vRAN deployments is based on Intel® eASIC technology and is sampling to customers. It offloads and accelerates the computing-intensive process of forward error correction. This frees up more processing power within Intel Xeon processors for channel capacity and edge-based services and applications. To bring the product to market, Intel works with leading service providers including Telefonica and various partners, including Altiostar, ASTRI, Baicells, Comba, H3C, HPE, Mavenir, Nokia, QCT, Radisys, Ruijie, Silicom, Supermicro, and ZT Systems.
- Next Generation Intel Xeon processors for network infrastructure: With these processors, customers can use a common architecture across the network for various workloads and performance requirements.
- Network-optimized 3rd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors (code-named “Ice Lake-SP”) are designed for infrastructure use cases that require higher performance per watt, including wireless core, wireless access and network edge workloads and security appliances. 3rd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors will ship to customers at the end of the year.
- Next-generation Intel Xeon D processors (code-named “Ice Lake-D”) are designed for form factor-constrained environments at the edge and will offer greater levels of integration like built-in networking IP. Intel expects to start shipping these processors to customers in mid-2021.
- Enhanced Intel® Select Solutions for network: To improve application efficiency and network performance for high-performance network workloads, Intel Select Solutions for NFVI Red Hat, NFVI Ubuntu and NFVI Forwarding Platform have been upgraded to support the new Intel® Ethernet 800 Series Network Adapter (code-named “Columbiaville”), which delivers increased performance and Dynamic Device Personalization (DDP) to maximize platform performance. These upgraded solutions are coming soon.
What Customers Are Deploying:
- Rakuten Mobile: Rakuten Mobile’s 5G mobile network, launched Sept. 30, is architected with a breadth of Intel technology. “By building a virtualized, cloud native network we realize significant economies of scale that kept the capital and operating costs of the network efficient,” said Tareq Amin, CTO, Rakuten Mobile Inc., and group executive vice president and CAO at Rakuten. “Harnessing proven cloud technologies and underpinning our network with Intel technologies like FlexRAN, Intel processors, field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and OpenNESS toolkit, gives us a powerful foundation to deliver immersive experiences and support a variety of edge computing applications.”
- SK Telecom: SK Telecom announced a formal collaboration with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Intel and Samsung Electronics that will result in more rapid introduction of new hardware and software technologies, like the upcoming 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors (code-named “Ice Lake”), into SK Telecom’s network. “As a leading chip company, Intel has been securing countless strengths including an extensive product portfolio and a broad ecosystem including hardware, software and application developers,” said Kang Jong-ryeol, vice president and head of ICT Infrastructure Center of SK Telecom. “To drive leadership, we need to be more agile in adopting and deploying innovative technologies and Intel is a critical and strategic partner to work with.”
- Verizon: In collaboration with Intel, Samsung and Wind River, Verizon successfully completed the world’s first fully virtualized end-to-end 5G data session to enable faster response to customers’ latency and computing needs.
What’s Next: Intel is the world’s leading network silicon provider. Its diverse network infrastructure and edge-ready product offerings, robust developer tools and global partner ecosystem deliver breakthrough business value across the telecommunications industry. These transformations across the network are critical to achieve the full potential of 5G, edge and AI outcomes across a range of industries, including retail, education, healthcare and more. With more than 15,000 edge deployments, Intel is helping customers deliver better business outcomes today and into the future.
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