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Ciena leverages Intel technology for flexibility and programmability to accelerate the adoption of O-RAN in 5G New Radio (NR) and Next-Generation LTE.

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Ciena recently announced three new xHaul (fronthaul, midhaul, and backhaul) routers – the multivendor interoperable Ciena 5164, 5166, and 5168 Routers – as described in a new Ciena blog written by Brian Lavallée, Senior Director of Portfolio Marketing at Ciena. Mobile networks use the xHaul transport networks discussed in Lavallée’s blog to interconnect cell sites to each other, to the core network, and ultimately to data centers, where much of the content being accessed resides. A lot of this content is video, which means the fixed wireline networks that interconnect Radio Access Networks (RANs) and data centers need upgrading to achieve the end-to-end performance promise that the industry expects from 5G Network Slicing. Ciena’s three new routers support the open 5G fronthaul and midhaul network interface specifications being developed by organizations such as the operator-led O-RAN Alliance.

Because the company wanted to conform to the O-RAN Alliance’s core principles – intelligence and openness – Ciena decide to work with Intel and to leverage Intel’s expertise in developing accelerated, programmable virtual RANs. According to Lavallée’s blog, this collaboration with Intel has enabled “the deployment of converged 4G/LTE and 5G mobile networks in the most efficient and cost-effective way.”

Lavallée’s blog also states that Ciena is also leveraging Intel expertise in the fronthaul domain to deliver packetized CPRI transport via Radio-over-Ethernet (RoE) and a CPRI-to-eCPRI Interworking Function (IWF).

In his blog, Lavallée writes that Intel FPGA technology “provides the required performance, flexibility, and programmability we need to implement multiple fronthaul specifications today. In addition, Intel FPGA technology permits field upgrades should future deployment requirements change for any reason.” Specifically, the Ciena 5168 router uses Intel FPGA technology.


Intel’s silicon and software portfolio empowers our customers’ intelligent services from the cloud to the edge. Intel’s 5G network reference architecture, called FlexRAN, runs on general-purpose servers located at the network edge (i.e. radio sites, enterprises or data centers) and enables O-RAN implementations through optimized libraries for LTE and for 5G NR Layer 1 workload acceleration. A full FlexRAN implementation using Intel® Xeon® processors can perform the entire 4G and/or 5G Layer 1, 2, and 3 processing per the latest O-RAN specifications. Intel® FPGAs can be used to accelerate certain Layer 1 functions and fronthaul connectivity.

For more information about Intel FlexRAN, see “5G Advances along with Virtualized Radio Access Network Investments,” by Cristina Rodriguez, Vice President, Data Center Group, General Manager of Wireless Access Network Division at Intel Corporation.


For more information about the use of Intel® FPGA technology and the Intel® FPGA Programmable Acceleration Card (PACs) N3000 to accelerate functions in 5G and 4G networks, see:




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