Virtualization is key to this transformation and it’s not just about 5G. Network modernization through infrastructure and application virtualization holds the potential to reduce operator capex-to-revenue ratio from about 15 percent to under 10 percent within five years according the a Bain report. You have probably read about AT&T’s goal to virtualize 75 percent of its network functions by 2020. After virtualizing more than 55 percent of its network functions in 2017, the company reached its goal of 65 percent in 2018. Approximately 60 percent of fixed-network or cable providers have started to virtualize their network access infrastructure by end of 2018 according to S&P Global. These successes motivate us as our journey continues.
Intel is accelerating network modernization from the core to the edge through new advancements in Intel architecture and partnership with our ecosystem. I would like to share some of our plans for Mobile World Congress 2019 that underscore our progress in the extension and execution of our data-centric network transformation strategy.
Continued Network Transformation, Performance are Fundamental to 5G Future
5G is an accelerant of network transformation, and the network must be virtualized to deliver advanced 5G services beyond mobile broadband.
We have tremendous opportunity in front of us, which is why I am really excited about the next generation of Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors. Codenamed Cascade Lake, this new family of solutions promises to play a significant role in accelerating the modernization of mobile core networks and beyond.
Cascade Lake delivers innovation and capabilities to enable organizations to propel insights and growth in this data-centric era. This new foundation for workload-optimized performance begins with support for Intel’s breakthrough Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory, which can enable huge increases in system memory capacities. New Intel® Deep Learning Boost with VNNI brings built-in AI acceleration, helping to deliver AI readiness across evolving data center workloads. Hardware-enhanced security and Intel® Infrastructure Management Technologies can help data security and enable increased utilization and operational agility across data center resources.
Each of these significant capabilities, and many more, combine to deliver unprecedented leadership advancements to propel growth from the heart of the multi-cloud data center, to the network edge, and back. With new technologies and ecosystem optimizations for network workloads and NFVi applications, such as vBNG or vCCAP, we are seeing significant improvement over our prior generation of Intel Xeon Scalable processors and a massive leap in capabilities over the typical installed base. This product family is coming to market very soon, and our customers are eager to refresh and modernize their networks with it.
Last year, Nokia* launched AirFrame Open Edge Server, which is an industry leading Edge Cloud data center solution to meet the stringent and diverse low-latency data processing demands of time-critical applications such as industry automation, augmented reality and Cloud RAN. Its orchestration and feature compatibility with existing Nokia products will provide for a seamless transition to a distributed environment. Nokia's new AirFrame open edge solution is built on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, which offer the needed balance of compute, I/O and memory capacity for the edge cloud to work seamlessly across the wide range of workloads deployed on the edge.
At MWC we will demonstrate a significant performance milestone based on current Intel Xeon processors. The industry widely acknowledges 200Gbps as the data transport throughput performance required to support more advanced 5G use cases, such as autonomous driving, industrial IoT and others. Our high-performance 5G Packet Core platform with virtualization technology will be operating at 200Gbps for network traffic, showing that current Intel architecture is more than capable of supporting future performance requirements of the 5G core network. When we introduce Cascade Lake, our industry will benefit even more.
Read this blog post from Alex Quach, General Manager of Wireline and Core Network Division within Intel’s Network Platforms Group, for more details on the importance of this milestone.
Enhancing 5G RAN and Network Edge
Delivering on 5G experiences requires us to extend our rich, industry-leading compute from the data center, thru transformed networks and the network edge. Success for 5G will require collaboration on solutions based on proven technologies and realized with commitment by the ecosystem. In addition to a high-capacity, high-performance core network, the industry needs to place more computing power at the network edge, which will include the radio access network and central office. It’s critical to virtualize edge locations, such as central offices, to truly deliver 5G experiences.
The RAN has evolved and includes many different types of solution deployments. Intel is partnering with the industry to deliver solutions for a wide variety of wireless RAN solutions. At CES, Intel shared details about our first 10nm SoC, code-named Snow Ridge, which was designed specifically for 5G radio access networks to support data-intensive workloads. The power-efficient performance, faster memory support and large I/O capacity of Snow Ridge make it a great fit for base stations and other network locations. In her recent article, Sandra Rivera shared the exciting news that Ericsson plans to use Snow Ridge, along with their custom silicon, to deliver leading RAN compute solutions.
At MWC this year, we are sharing details on a forthcoming Intel® Xeon® D processor, codenamed Hewitt Lake. This high-density, highly-integrated SoC offers a great upgrade path for many of the existing design wins we currently have on Intel Xeon D-1500 processors, standard and network series. Hewitt Lake will be particularly beneficial to lower core count solutions for network edge, control plane, security and mid-range storage which typically face both power and space constraints. This new processor will offer a significant increase in base frequency over the prior generation to deliver enhanced per core performance, while helping to advance our customers down the path to 5G and extend Intel’s solutions to the intelligent edge. Hewitt Lake samples are available now with general availability coming mid-2019.
Central Office Transformation to Fiber-Rich Edge Data Center
The central office is a great example of an edge node that is ripe for tremendous transformation and we are collaborating with the industry to transform these central offices and cable head-ends. A Next Generation Central Office (NGCO) is a fiber-rich mini or edge datacenter that can support both fixed and mobile traffic and serve enterprise and mobile customers. Central offices are becoming more centralized on the network edge to create a more efficient network footprint. These Edge/Metro Central offices vary a lot in size and capability, depending on the operator and the Geo. In these locations where high density of subscribers are being terminated, we expect to see a half- to full-rack of equipment doing the NFV workloads, the switching, and the transport toward the core network.
Several major CommSPs, including AT&T, China Telecom, Telefonica and Verizon, have already publicly announced their plan to re-architect data centers throughout the network. We recently partnered with Quanta to launch its NGCO solution with its partners, including Red Hat, KGP, Radisys and others. The solution delivers a commercial NGCO rack to enable the modernization of the central office. You will be able to see the demonstration of QCT NGCO rack with commercial NFVi and VNFs for fixed-mobile convergence, edge security and telemetry deployment at our MWC booth this year.
In addition to supporting network functions at the CO, communication service providers view the network edge as a strategic location to provide innovative services for 5G, IoT, immersive media, entertainment and more. Visual cloud use cases are great examples of workloads that require rich user experiences, low latency and high bandwidth. Visual experiences have evolved to encompass more complex workloads than video and media processing including media analytics, immersive media, cloud gaming and content delivery networks. And all these workloads require hardware that is high-performance and flexible. Read a new blog by Lynn Comp, general manager of Intel’s Visual Cloud Division, that describes the incredible visual cloud demonstration at MWC.
The evolution of media use cases and other latency/performance sensitive applications in the 5G era will unlock opportunities on the network edge for CSPs, CoSPs and Enterprises alike, supported by the industry ecosystem and developers. I encourage you to read a new blog from Renu Navale, senior director, Edge Services and Industry Enabling, Intel Network Platforms Group, that outlines these edge opportunities and how Intel is supporting the industry to accelerate edge service innovation within the developer community.
I’m thrilled with the momentum that Intel technology is building with the industry’s leading companies, extending from the multi-cloud through the core network to the intelligent edge. It’s all on display this year at MWC. Please pop by our booth, see the innovation and experience the data-centric future.
For more information, visit intel.com/network and follow me on Twitter at @DanRod2000 during Mobile World Congress for live updates from the event.