5G/6G

Successful demonstrate Open vRAN and 5G Core UPF using Arm-based CPUs

21st February 2024
Sheryl Miles
0

NEC Corporation together with Arm, Qualcomm Technologies, Red Hat, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) have successfully demonstrated end-to-end operation of NEC's Open virtual Radio Access Network (vRAN) and 5G Core virtual User Plane Function (vUPF) products using the HPE ProLiant servers running Arm Neoverse-based CPUs and the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card, with Red Hat OpenShift in conditions equivalent to a commercial environment.

The collaboration led to a successfully integrated and demonstrable solution that is optimised for total cost of ownership (TCO) and power efficiency for both edge and data centres.

NEC's Open vRAN and the 5G Core vUPF deployed on the same server as the vCU are carrier-grade quality cloud-native applications, compliant to O-RAN Alliance and 3GPP standards. They support multiple servers and virtualisation platforms and are highly flexible and scalable for a variety of network scenarios and configurations.

The new solution includes the HPE ProLiant RL300 Gen11 powered by Ampere Altra Arm Neoverse-based processors with the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card. The harnessing of an in-line accelerator is an example of Open RAN enabling a multi-vendor landscape using modern network equipment, and workload-optimised compute independent of CPU architecture, as opposed to all workload processing being done on legacy, single-vendor equipment.

By successfully demonstrating call processing and packet communication in conditions that are equivalent to a commercial environment and using Arm-based servers and X100 with enhanced power and space savings, the range of applications of Arm-based servers is now further expanded, confirming the potential to significantly reduce the TCO for mobile networks.

With this demonstration, NEC’s mobile virtualisation software suites (Open vRAN and vUPF) have also proven a high degree of flexibility and portability over various servers and virtualisation platforms.

Network sustainability continues to be a critical priority for service providers given the exponentially increasing traffic demands and associated processing power requirements. Therefore, innovation across leading technologies is important to help accelerate sustainability gains into the commercial network, which has been represented by this important milestone.

Andy Dunkin, Open RAN RF & Digital Platform Development Manager, Vodafone, said: “Vodafone is keen to see the diversification of the eco-system for silicon architecture with the demonstration of an ARM-based Open RAN platform, widening the choice of power efficient compute solutions. The maturity of Arm-based architecture, combined with high-quality NEC vRAN and acceleration from Qualcomm, shows the continuing progress made on the interoperability of Open RAN software and hardware."

NEC’s solution and further insights will be exhibited at MWC (Mobile World Congress) Barcelona 2024 within the Arm booth (Hall 2, Stand I60), Red Hat booth (Hall2, stand 2F30), Qualcomm booth (Hall3, stand 3E10), and NEC booth (Hall 2, Stand 2H40), 26–29 February 2024.

Eddie Ramirez, Vice President of go-to-market, Infrastructure Line of Business, Arm, said: "Realising the full potential of 5G requires new thinking and new system architectures. Open RAN and virtualisation are making this possible by enabling new architectures and compute options for telcos. This demonstration is an incredible example of the power of the Arm ecosystem in enabling real-world deployments of Open RAN, proving TCO benefits for mobile networks by leveraging the performance-per-watt benefits of the Arm Neoverse platform."

Gerardo Giaretta, Vice President, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies, said: "This is an exciting demonstration that reinforces the Open RAN opportunity and validates the performance and power efficiency capabilities of the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN accelerator card, increasing sustainability while reducing network cost. We are honoured to be part of this ecosystem collaboration to make 5G RAN more capable and accessible."

Honoré LaBourdette, Acting Senior Vice President, Global Telco, and Vice President, Telco Partner Ecosystem, Red Hat, said: "Red Hat is dedicated to helping service providers extend the scope of their 5G network capabilities to deliver new customer experiences. The burgeoning technological innovation of 5G brings with it a crucial responsibility to combine our expertise with our partners to deliver more sustainable network operations for our customers. With this collaboration, NEC is able to utilise Red Hat OpenShift and energy efficient hardware from Arm and Qualcomm to optimise its RAN and 5G Core network solutions with reduced power consumption."

Phil Cutrone, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Service Providers, OEM and Telco, HPE, said: "We’re excited to work with NEC in demonstrating new and innovative 5G solutions that we believe will shape the future of the industry. HPE ProLiant RL300 Gen11 servers offer an open and power-efficient platform for telco environments, broadening operator choice of infrastructure foundations for vRAN networks."

Katsumi Tanoue, General Manager, Global Mobile Solution Department at NEC, said: "This demonstration is a proof-point where the latest HW technologies, combined with carrier-grade Open RAN SW result in energy efficient, innovative and competitive RAN solutions. We at NEC are looking forward to accelerating collaboration within the Open RAN eco-system and promoting diversity and competition for the benefit of Network Operators."

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