Background

In 2020, voice and internet data services are a mainstay of our economy and have become commodities.  As a result of this commoditization, revenues from these services are plateauing and no longer a viable area of growth for many operators. In response to this trend, operators are now turning their attention towards new high-growth segments, such IoT, eMBB, UrLLC, and Immersive reality to name a few, to fuel their expansion. For these mainstays of the new 5G economy, wireless networks will play a critical role in realizing the full potential of these next-generation disciplines. Wireless networks will be required to connect to ever-larger numbers of devices, process ever-larger volumes of data, and provide the versatility needed for fostering innovation. OpenRAN architecture is the perfect solution for the needs of operators in the 5G era. OpenRAN solutions offer flexibility and scalability through the disaggregation of hardware and software and the utilization of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) hardware. OpenRAN platforms constitute a significant step towards the realization of the 5G era.

Requirements

Lanner recently collaborated with an end-to-end, cloud-native network software and system integration provider for 4G and 5G to develop a COTS-based hardware platform. The solution is geared toward accelerating network transformations for 5G OpenRAN, vRAN, and MEC. The open hardware platform had the following requirements:

Short-Depth Design

The depth limitations of telecommunication racks are usually 300mm, therefore network appliance had to support a short-depth design

Front Access I/O Ports

Front access I/O ports are an indispensable feature. The rack-mount servers will be housed in data centers or rack mount cabinets, where access to the backside of the servers is limited or completely inaccessible.

High Availability and Redundancy

The client required a redundant power supply and fan design that could fulfill 24/7 high-availability operation for a high level of reliability and durability

With Dual BIOS

With the main BIOS and backup BIOS, system administrators can have more peace of mind knowing that their system can restart automatically without human oversight should problems arise during remote booting 

IEEE 1588

While there are many COTS hardware offerings that support IEEE 1588v2 Precise Time Protocol (PTP), 5G requires support for a time synchronization accuracy of a minimum for 65ns for carrier aggregation and similar use cases. To ensure this level of precision, both PTP and precise frequency synchronization technologies like Synchronous Ethernet are recommended to ensure synchronization in both the physical and protocol layer. This will be even more essential as we move to higher frequency radio spectrums like millimeter wave (mmWave) with large MIMO antenna configurations.

QAT

Native support for QAT is important to off-load the crypto packet in 5G networks. The latest Intel Xeon CPU embedded QAT (Quick Assist Technology); the network appliance with QAT can optimize network performance in IPSec or VPN networks.

Optical Fiber Interconnectivity

Optical fiber is the preferred medium for existing wireless backhaul networks, and even in networks where this is not the case. A wireless backhaul eventually needs to connect to a fiber backhaul. Fiber will also be preferred for what is known as "fronthaul," connecting the dense mesh of 5G small cells.

Solutions

For Distribution Units (DU) in 5G open network, the 1U rack-mountable Lanner NCA-4020 is an Open RAN appliance with a short-depth design. Featuring 8/12/16-core Intel® Xeon® D-2100 processors, 10x GbE RJ45 (8 Port PoE+), 4x 10G SFP, and Intel® QAT for improved network performance, the NCA-4020 delivers significant performance enhancement in running multiple virtual network functions VNFs, reduces testing and validation efforts, and accelerates time-to-market deployment.

For Centralized Units (CU), the Lanner HTCA-6200 is the carrier-grade MEC appliance. Equipped with the Lanner HLM-1100 switch blade that supports carrier-grade IEEE 1588 PTPv2, HTCA-6200 can achieve a high degree of time synchronization for mission-critical applications deployed in Radio Access Networks, 5G Edge Clouds, and Core Network Data Centers.

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