Supercharging 5G: how RAN Compute will power 5G networks everywhere
Mobile network users have high demands when it comes to network performance… After all, life is hectic, and we need to use our time in the most efficient way. And so, now that smartphones have become the new TV, we expect to watch what we like, whenever we like – and we want instant satisfaction. What’s more, as time goes by, we’re likely to become ever more demanding. Here’s a look at how mobile networks are being boosted by Ericsson’s RAN Compute portfolio – including the latest addition, Baseband 6648 – to bring users just the services they need.
There’s nothing more tiresome than a lagging data connection… The frustration of watching that little wheel spin round is often too much to bear. OK, we might wait five seconds for that app to deliver, but seven is pushing it. That’s why ads are five seconds long! Any longer than that, and we’re most likely to move on swiftly.
When it comes to watching videos, personally I’d rather run a marathon than wait an hour for my content to download. Despite the lack of patience – which I suspect I share with quite a few other smartphone users – there’s nothing I like more than watching the video of my choice exactly when I’m in the mood for it.
In recent years, there’s been a steady rise in the consumption of streamed video among users all over the world, with people watching an ever-increasing amount of video content on their mobile devices. In fact, Ericsson Mobility Report estimates that over 60 percent of traffic is now video-related, and expects that over three-quarters will be by the end of 2025.
The question many of us have been asking ourselves is, “When will I be able to download a heavy bulk of content instantly, or stream video seamlessly without interruption?” The answer: that all depends on how many users are trying to download or stream content at the same time.
More compute power required
The RAN Compute hardware needs to process multiple tasks simultaneously. At the end of the day, it’s about maintaining top network performance to secure the optimal user experience.
The RAN processing challenge is to execute advanced RAN algorithms for:
- many users and devices
- many quality-of-service levels for different apps
- many network slices
- many cells
- many MIMO layers
- many antenna branches (transceivers)
And each process needs to be completed within a tenth of a millisecond, pushing the RAN Compute hardware to its limit.
Transceivers, bandwidth and latency
Today we offer more advanced radios, going from two to four to eight transceivers and with 5G Massive MIMO (64 transceivers and massive beamforming). From a radio perspective, instead of just broadcasting, we have made the radio beam so narrow, we can focus it – like a laser – on one specific user.
We have also seen a massive increase in radio bandwidth, going from 20MHz in 4G, to 100MHz on the mid-band spectrum for 5G, and up to 800MHz on the high band millimeter wave spectrum.
While the 4G transmission time interval (TTI) requirement is one millisecond, whereas with 5G we now need it to be up to eight times faster. The TTI requirement has been reduced from 1ms for 4G, to 0.5ms on the mid-band for 5G, and to 0.125ms on the high band for 5G.
These are some of the challenges that we at Ericsson have been considering when developing our latest RAN Compute hardware technology.
Designing a future-proof network
When we develop technology, we are not just thinking about the needs of tomorrow; we’re thinking long term... Our ambition is to introduce hardware that remains competitive for years. And with smart design and the right inbuilt functionalities, we can unlock our hardware’s full potential with our software solutions.
Why EMCA is the answer
Our RAN Compute with Ericsson Many Core Architecture (EMCA) – which is the “brain” of our technology – is the key to network evolution, facilitating innovation within radio and transport, and securing the service provider’s future-proof investments. We came up with RAN Compute so that you’d be ready for 5G – and we’ve been all set with that since 2015.
EMCA is the solution that will help us to meet today’s requirements. It’s the foundation we can build our portfolio on, serving as a unified architecture that we use across Ericsson’s whole RAN portfolio.
EMCA consists of purpose-built hardware, based on Ericsson’s own custom silicon, that contains hundreds of digital signal processors (DSPs) with accelerators. It gives our products unparalleled performance with virtually limitless scalability across multiple generations of hardware.
And at the same time, because it is purpose built, it is very energy efficient.
Welcoming Baseband 6648 to the RAN Compute family
We need a good connection to watch video content on demand. That means around 10Mbps. Ericsson’s new Baseband 6648 can actually provide downlink capacity of up to 10-15Gbps. So just how fast is that? Well, it means you could download a 4K video (that’s 90-120 minutes of entertainment) in less than 30 seconds. Not only that: around 1,700 of these kinds of videos could be streamed simultaneously.
As next-generation hardware for LTE and 5G NR that brings up to three times more capacity, our newly born Baseband 6648 is the strongest member of the RAN Compute family!
Boosting capacity and efficiency, Baseband 6648 has already been endorsed by Telstra in Australia and Telia in Sweden, and both service providers have already deployed it in their networks. Others will doubtless follow suit. And at the end of the day, that means they’ll be able to deploy 5G in a smooth, sustainable way.