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Intel and Ericsson Pioneer Cloud RAN Acceleration

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5G and growing data volumes are putting communications service providers (CoSPs) under pressure to keep up with capacity demands and to launch differentiated services to their end users. CoSPs are exploring virtualized and cloud-native network solutions to deliver on the performance and flexibility needed to unleash the full promise of 5G.

That’s why my colleagues and I are proud to share the latest achievement in our long-standing partnership with Ericsson to accelerate virtualized radio access network (vRAN) deployments—the launch of Ericsson’s Cloud RAN for mid-band spectrum. Together, we are delivering new technologies that highlight the best of each of our company’s portfolio strengths.

Central to our collaboration is our joint commitment to driving the ecosystem and telecommunications industry toward delivering on 5G. Since 2016, Ericsson has been working with us to establish a solid foundation for Intel-based RAN by virtualizing RAN workloads on Intel® Xeon® servers. Our combined efforts are built on technological advancements in IoT, cloud, and 5G—from the core to the RAN to edge networks.

Today, we are involved in joint efforts such as incubation activities for 5G use case-driven solutions at Ericsson's Open Lab, including mid-band. As we continue to work to make the promise of 5G a reality, combining our compute and processing capabilities with Ericsson’s RAN algorithms and software intellectual property (IP) helps to unleash a roadmap of multi-generational cloud-native RAN solutions.

Versatile applications for a powerful Cloud RAN solution

The concept of virtualized RAN transfers network technology from purpose-built hardware to a generic compute platform. Virtualized RAN is built in a cloud-native architecture where cloud-native network functions are designed to run inside containers incorporating key elements such as lifecycle management, resilience, and observability. The result is a platform that is flexible, scalable, and agile.

With their introduction of Cloud RAN in October 2020, Ericsson launched the capability to deliver a vRAN solution that can be introduced into purpose-built networks. This concept, called bluefield deployments, offers CoSPs the ability to implement Cloud RAN into their pre-existing networks and capitalize on the full interworking between the two network approaches. Cloud RAN additionally supports new site builds or greenfield deployments. Ultimately, Ericsson’s Cloud RAN solution offers an adaptable architecture and deployment options for any situation.

Ericsson’s Cloud RAN solution in mid-band is bolstered by Intel technology and a promising roadmap of future generations of the Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor families codenamed Sapphire Rapids and Granite Rapids. I’m proud to say our processors are designed to deliver the performance, efficiency, versatility, and trust to meet the needs of modern network workloads.

Transforming virtualized RAN to enable high-performance 5G

The interest in virtualizing and cloudifying the RAN is driven by similar benefits that we’ve seen in the core network nearly a decade ago. By pursuing a virtualized RAN architecture, CoSPs can gain even more agility and flexibility to support the introduction of new 5G use cases and edge services.

Drawing on more than 10 years of experience in network virtualization, Intel is spearheading vRAN roll outs around the world. The industry is seeing the benefits with nearly, if not all, early commercial vRAN deployments happening on Intel technology. We are delivering Intel® Xeon® processors, accelerators, FPGAs, and Ethernet Adapters to support network deployments globally. Service providers see the potential to accelerate innovation with Intel and our partners—modernizing their networks to deliver enhanced services, bring artificial intelligence to the RAN, and provide new offerings to consumers and enterprises.

A commitment to unleashing cloud-native RAN innovation

Intel and Ericsson are truly breaking new ground in the vRAN space, bringing forth innovative technologies that are the product of our combined strengths. By continuing to collaborate with Ericsson to optimize Intel accelerator technology combined with Ericsson’s RAN processing and algorithms, both of our companies can deliver the type of performance required in the most demanding RAN environments in the world. As we move forward, Intel is committed to strengthening our partnership with Ericsson and the entire ecosystem, so that they can produce powerful, comprehensive RAN solutions for today and tomorrow.

Discover more about our partnership by reading Ericsson’s press release or by visiting Ericsson’s Cloud RAN solution page.

You can also learn about Intel’s virtual MWC presence at intel.com/MWC.

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About the Author
Vice President Network & Edge Group General Manager Wireless Access Network Division. Cristina Rodriguez is vice president in the Network & Edge Group, general manager of the group's Wireless Access Network Division (WAND), and general manager of the Austin Design Center at Intel Corporation. She leads Intel’s efforts to provide innovative wireless access solutions in both traditional and cloud native networks, enabling the RAN of the future by bringing together 5G, the build out of the Edge and Artificial Intelligence. Rodriguez has full PnL ownership, responsible for strategy and business plans, technical product marketing, roadmaps, product definition, forecasting, customer relationships, investment decisions and GTM. Rodriguez joined Intel in 2014 with the acquisition of LSI Corp.'s Axxia Networking Business from Avago Technologies Ltd., where she led and carried out software strategy. In her first Intel role, Rodriguez managed the division's worldwide software engineering and product development efforts. She also led the successful integration of the Axxia team into Intel and aligned the team's focus with Intel's networking business. Her team has been recognized multiple times with Intel’s highest honor, the Intel Achievement Award, for their contribution to the company’s 5G leadership efforts. Before her tenure at LSI and Avago, Rodriguez spent seven years holding leadership roles in software development at Agere Systems Inc. and its parent company, Lucent Technologies Inc. Earlier in her career, she worked at Zilog Inc. and at two startup ventures. Rodriguez earned her bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Instituto Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverría in Havana, Cuba; her master's degree in computer science from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in Madrid, Spain; and completed the Stanford Executive Program at Stanford University. Rodriguez is also a member of the Intel Latinx Leadership Council and was recognized as one of HiTEC’s “100 Most Influential Hispanic Leaders in Technology” in 2021 and 2022.