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Defining the Future Today: Building Next-Generation Communications Infrastructure to Support the New Demands of the Network

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Enhancements and improvements to our communications infrastructure are vital, as technology is playing an increasingly important role in society.  For the most part, networks have performed admirably, however increases in demand will continue to pose new challenges to the existing infrastructure. For example, ABI Research in April of this year stated that it saw an 80% increase in upload traffic, which is just one example of this new wave of demand.  Service providers are evolving and optimizing their networks to meet the exploding volume of data and diverse network traffic streams. They need solutions that help them meet this challenge in an agile and cost-effective way.

These dynamics have propelled us to team up with NTT, one of the world’s largest and most innovative service providers, with expertise in both wired and wireless networks, data centers and photonics. Through this focused effort, we aim to define and create future communications infrastructure technologies that meet network demands needed in the near future. These technologies will go beyond the limits of conventional communications infrastructure creating the ability for smarter insights at the edge, which will be necessary to create the connected world where applications such as smart cities, enhanced healthcare, and intelligent manufacturing become more of a reality.

The Intel-NTT effort will direct research and development efforts across both companies. This is in addition to the work that Intel and NTT are engaged in through the IOWN Global Forum.  The forum was founded in 2019 by NTT, Sony and Intel to create an industry-wide forum for accelerating development of use case scenarios and technical specifications initially focused on photonics network and distributed computing. Though the Intel-NTT effort is independent from the forum, the technologies that Intel and NTT create may very well find themselves leveraged by the IOWN Global Forum over its 10-year horizon.

With a deepened alliance, Intel and NTT can focus on near-term development of advanced solutions across three primary areas to create immediate benefit for business and society alike.

Photonics-electronics convergence

Photonics technology integrated with electronics represents an opportunity to transcend the existing physical limitations of electronics in interconnect applications. Future optical compute devices and optical chip-to-chip interconnect are a new breed of solution that address issues with performance, power consumption, and cost-effectiveness.

The advancement of global distributed computing architecture

The nature of data is rapidly changing, increasing in volume, diversity, and geographical source. It’s clear that intelligence and computing power need to be more distributed throughout next-generation architectures. A critical milestone in our work with NTT is the development of an initial proof of concept focused on video analytics and AI.  Ultimately, this early work will contribute to the development of a new distributed compute architecture that spans from end devices to the edge to the cloud. 5G, with its promise of high-performance, scale, reliability and low-latency, is a first step in helping to make this new distributed architecture a reality.

The development of an open and distributed framework

The open source model is an important engine for technological innovation. Together with NTT, we will innovate on open AI software frameworks to enable service providers to leverage AI-managed, distributed computing architectures that can increase network efficiency and address demands for capacity. This work further extends and leverages Intel’s extensive software optimizations and product investments that create a foundation for AI, including the Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor with built-in AI acceleration, Intel® Movidius™ Vision Processing Units, Intel® FPGAs and contributions to open source frameworks such as Intel® Optimization for TensorFlow and the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ toolkit. The first proof-of-concept effort with NTT will employ a distributed computing architecture, and utilize 2nd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors and the Intel Movidius Vision Processing Unit, to provide insights for smart agriculture and traffic congestion.

And I do mean quickly! Be on the lookout for exciting Proof-of-Concepts for a number of technologies in the very near future. Our planned research and development will leverage NTT’s industry-leading photonics, digital signal processing, computing and network infrastructure management technologies as well as Intel’s deep technology portfolio, support structure, and hardware and software expertise.

In the past, I’ve stated that at Intel we’re planning for the long-term on how we can positively enrich the lives of every person on earth through our technology. Our work with NTT is another important step in that direction. The potential of the solutions we hope to generate via our research have wide-ranging ramifications for a diverse set of industries beyond telecommunications. Transportation, logistics, precision healthcare, environmental planning, and manufacturing all stand to benefit from a more intelligent world based on this new distributed communications infrastructure. Watch this space as we continue to report on the results from this important journey.
About the Author
Asha Keddy has 25+ years of experience at Intel as a patent-holding engineer and technology futurist building enterprise systems and defining policies that transform working and living environments. Ms. Keddy continues to serve as a pivotal force at Intel in the creation of the multi-trillion dollar 5G market opportunity. In this role, she has executed incubation efforts, product development, industry forums, standards creation, ecosystem enablement, and policy governance. Building on her experience as Intel’s 5G exec sponsor, she currently serves as Corporate Vice President and General Manager for Intel’s Next Generation Systems & Standards business unit. Keddy leads global efforts to build the next generation of distributed intelligence and advanced connectivity including 6G, the latest class of Wi-Fi technology, and more, thus empowering the creation of transformative and sustainable opportunities beyond Intel’s current playbook. Keddy is a highly networked industry thought leader, and a global spokesperson providing insights to government agencies, the media, analysts, academia, and investors. She has served as a representative before Congress and international government agencies including testimonies to the senate on 5G. Keddy helped establish Intel as a leader within key wireless, industrial and edge standards bodies, and multiple industry fora, such as the 3GPP, IEEE, Wi-Fi Alliance, ETSI and Open-RAN. Keddy is a founder and advisor to Innovative Optical Wireless Network (IOWN GF) and has served or serves as long time director on the board of directors of Wi-Fi Alliance, 5G Americas, and CTIA. In April 2022, she joined Smith Micro Software (SMSI)’s as an independent Board Director. Keddy holds a Master of Science in Computer Science from Clemson University and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Mumbai. She is an alumna of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business as part of the Intel Executive Accelerator Program. She is an avid advocate for women and minorities in technology. Residing in Portland, Oregon, Asha is an avid enthusiast for sustainability and the great outdoors. She enjoys kayaking, hiking, and spending time in nature with her family.