As 5G networks proliferate, open and flexible network architectures including Open Radio Area Networks (O-RANs) are clearly becoming the way forward, as evidenced by the fact that O-RAN network architectures have taken center stage at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona 2022. According to an article published by the O-RAN Alliance, Wistron NeWeb Corporation (WNC) is demonstrating a 5G End-to-End (E2E) O-RAN system at the event. WNC’s E2E O-RAN solution consists of CPE (Customer Premise Equipment), O-RU (Open Radio Unit), O-DU (Open distributed Unit), and O-CU (Open Centralized Unit) systems, all developed by WNC. These components achieve optimal performance and power efficiency for 5G private network applications, and can be readily deployed in commercial applications.
The WNC E2E O-RAN demo at MWC streams 4K video via a 5G, sub-6 GHz, over-the-air, RF network to a client laptop and achieves a downlink speed of 945 Mbps while complying with the full spectrum of O-RAN and 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) specifications. WNC says that this 5G O-RAN E2E system achieves optimal performance and power efficiency for private network applications. This system has already been deployed in a private 5G network belonging to a large telecom operator in Taiwan and, according to WNC, is ready to deploy in commercial applications.
WNC’s 5G End-to-End Demo streams 4K video over several pieces of O-RAN equipment developed by WNC including an O-RU (Open Radio Unit) and an O-DU (Open distributed Unit), and O-CU (Open Centralized Unit) plugged into a COTS server based on an Intel® Xeon®-D (Ice Lake-D) CPU.
The O-CU and O-DU in WNC’s 5G E2E system support NG backhaul, F1 midhaul, and 10GbE eCPRI fronthaul. They are plugged into a COTS server based on an Intel® Xeon®-D (Ice Lake-D) CPU in this demo for MWC. The O-CU and O-DU also support the O1 interface for configuration, performance, and fault management services as defined by the 5G O-RAN’s Service Management and Orchestration (SMO) architecture, which provides the automated control and orchestration that is essential for automating 5G operator networks.
WNC’s O-CU supports Radio Resource Control (RRC) and Packet Data Convergence Protocol (PDCP) functions while the company’s O-DU provides radio link control (RLC), media access control (MAC), and high PHY Layer 1 offload features. WNC’s O-DU incorporates a company-developed SmartNIC Acceleration Card, which is based on the Intel® FPGA SmartNIC N6000-PL Platform This SmartNIC incorporates an Intel® Agilex™ and an Intel® E810 Ethernet Controller (Intel announced the Intel® FPGA SmartNIC N6000-PL Platform, formerly code-named Arrow Creek, at last year’s Intel Architecture Day).
Intel Agilex FPGAs enable:
- ~2X better fabric performance per watt compared to competing 7 nm FPGAs*
- 15% to 20% faster on average than competing 7 nm FPGAs for 5G O-RU functions
WNC delivers a significant performance boost with enhanced timing synchronization using the IEEE 1588v2 Precision Timing Protocol, when compared with its predecessor, the Intel® FPGA Programmable Acceleration Card (Intel® FPGA PAC N3000).
WNC designed its O-DU using the recently announced Intel® FPGA SmartNIC N6000-PL Platform which is based on an Intel® Agilex™ FPGA and Intel® E810 Ethernet Controller.
The O-RU in WNC’s demo system is a sub-6 GHz indoor picocell with 4T4R MIMO antennas and 24dBm output power per channel. WNC’s O-RU supports open fronthaul interfaces (Split Option 7-2x); O-RAN C/U/S/M-Plane; and the n77, n78, and n79 RF frequency bands. WNC incorporated the Intel® Arria® 10 FPGA into its O-RU design because of the FPGA’s performance and programmable features, which give the O-RU’s substantial flexibility when dealing with various the radio configurations demanded by the 5G network specifications.
WNC’s extensive use of Intel® FPGAs in its 5G E2E system demonstrates how the high performance and hardware flexibility of Intel® programmable logic devices help 5G developers create extremely complex and sophisticated systems that comply with a maze of evolving new industry standards, including the O-RAN and 3GPP 5G standards.
- You can see a short, 4-minute video of WNC’s demo. Click here.
- Find out more about the Intel® FPGA SmartNIC N6000-PL Platform.
*See configuration information at intel.com/performanceindex
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