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How to build high performance 5G networks with vRAN and O-RAN

5G networks are poised to deliver an unprecedented amount of data from a richer set of use cases than we have ever seen. This makes efficient networking in terms of scalability, cost, and power critical for the sustainable growth of 5G. Cloud technologies such as virtualization, containerization and orchestration are now powering a surge of innovation in virtualized radio access network (vRAN) infrastructure with modular hardware and software components, and standardized interfaces. While commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware platforms provide the compute capacity for running vRAN software, hardware accelerators will also play a major role in offloading real-time and complex signal processing functions. Together, COTS platforms and hardware accelerators provide the foundation for building the intelligent 5G network and facilitate innovative new use cases with the intelligent wireless edge.

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How to build high performance 5G networks with vRAN and O-RAN

  1. 1. 1 How to build high-performance 5G networks with vRAN and O-RAN? 17 February 2021 @QCOMResearch O-RAN
  2. 2. For better coordination, scalable capacity, faster deployments, lower latency, and new use cases BBU: Baseband unit; DU: Distributed unit; vBBU: Virtual baseband unit; vCore: Virtual core network; vCU: Virtual central unit; MEC: Multi-access Edge Computing Virtual RAN (vRAN) + MEC Virtualized baseband processing unit with disaggregation RU RU RU RU Internet Core hub Edge cloud Cell site Cell site Backhaul Midhaul Centralized RAN (C-RAN) Centralized baseband processing unit RU Radio Cell site Cell site Fronthaul RU Radio Internet Core hub C-RAN hubs Backhaul Traditional RAN Combined baseband processing unit + Radio unit Internet Core hub Cell site Cell site Backhaul RU BBU Radio RU BBU Radio RU BBU vCU vCore MEC Fronthaul DU Open RAN Interfaces
  3. 3. 3 COTS compute with HW accelerated baseband COTS compute BBU: Baseband unit; COTS: Commercial off-the-shelf; CP: Control plane; CU: Central unit; DU: Distributed unit; UP: User plane; vCore: Virtual core network; vCU: Virtual central unit Disaggregation can create a more open and interoperable virtual RAN Core BBU Radio Backhaul Fronthaul Disaggregate RAN hardware and software with COTS HW
  4. 4. 4 Disaggregate layers of the protocol stack BBU: Baseband unit; COTS: Commercial off-the-shelf; CP: Control plane; CU: Central unit; DU: Distributed unit; UP: User plane; vCore: Virtual core network; vCU: Virtual central unit Disaggregate RAN hardware and software with COTS HW Disaggregation can create a more open and interoperable virtual RAN Open backhaul Open fronthaul Virtual Core Virtual BBU (CU + DU) RF COTS compute with HW accelerated baseband COTS compute Radio
  5. 5. 5 Disaggregate control plane and user plane functions Open backhaul Virtual Core UP Virtual CU UP BBU: Baseband unit; COTS: Commercial off-the-shelf; CP: Control plane; CU: Central unit; DU: Distributed unit; UP: User plane; vCore: Virtual core network; vCU: Virtual central unit Disaggregate layers of the protocol stack Disaggregation can create a more open and interoperable virtual RAN Open fronthaul Open backhaul Open midhaul Virtual Core Virtual CU DU COTS compute COTS compute COTS compute with HW accelerated baseband RF Radio
  6. 6. 6 COTS compute BBU: Baseband unit; COTS: Commercial off-the-shelf; CP: Control plane; CU: Central unit; DU: Distributed unit; UP: User plane; vCore: Virtual core network; vCU: Virtual central unit Disaggregate control plane and user plane functions Disaggregation can create a more open and interoperable virtual RAN Open fronthaul Open midhaul DU RF Radio Open backhaul Virtual Core CP Virtual CU CP COTS compute COTS compute with HW accelerated baseband Open backhaul Virtual Core UP Virtual CU UP
  7. 7. 7 Virtual Central Unit Control and user plane separation control plane user plane E1 Distributed Unit Remote radio head w/ centralized baseband Remote radio head + PHY with centralized baseband Allows for interoperability between the CU and DU PDCP High RLC Low RLC High MAC Low MAC High PHY Low PHY RF SDAP RRC Radio Active antenna systems Core Network option 2 option 6 option 7 option 8 CU: Central unit; DU: Distributed unit; MAC: Medium access control; PDCP: Packet data convergence protocol; PHY: Physical layer; RF: Radio frequency; RLC: Radio link control; RRC: Radio resource control; SDAP: Service data adaptation protocol Designed for unprecedented flexibility and cost-effective network deployments 3GPP TR 38.801
  8. 8. 8 vCU PDCP SDAP RRC Designed for unprecedented flexibility and cost-effective network deployments Option 2 Option 6 / 7 Core Network Distributed Unit (including radio) vDU Radio Unit RLC MAC High PHY Low PHY RF Allows for interoperability between the CU and DU Remote radio head + PHY with centralized baseband Remote radio head w/ centralized baseband Low PHY RF option 2 Relaxed backhaul requirements Superior coordinated multi-point vCU PDCP SDAP RRC Core Network option 7 RLC MAC SON: Self-optimizing networks; nFAPI: Network functional application platform interface option 6 High PHY
  9. 9. 9 vCU PDCP SDAP RRC Distributed Unit (including radio) vDU Radio Unit MAC High PHY Low PHY RF RLC Low PHY RF Relaxed backhaul requirements Superior coordinated multi-point RLC MAC High PHY Core Network Near-Real Time RAN Intelligent Controller O-RAN E2 Broaden the interoperable ecosystem with standardized open interfaces CUS: Control, User and Synchronization plane nFAPI: Network functional application platform interface option 2 F1 3GPP NG 3GPP option 2 F1 3GPP SCF option 6 nFAPI O-RAN option 7.2x CUS O-RAN Alliance Small Cell Forum Third Generation Partnership Project 3GPP SCF O-RAN
  10. 10. 10 Disaggregate RAN hardware and software with COTS HW Disaggregate layers of the protocol stack Disaggregate control plane and user plane functions Efficiently deploy new services Support different deployment scenarios Build denser networks Ride the innovation wave Improve resource scalability and utilization Disaggregate to maximize the benefits of virtual RAN vRAN 10
  11. 11. 11 Efficiently deploy new services Support different deployment scenarios Build denser networks Ride the innovation wave Improve resource scalability and utilization Deploy networks faster with vRAN and disaggregation Improve cost and energy effectiveness with trunking gains from resource pooling Rapidly scale virtual resources for additional capacity Support lower end-to-end latency Evolve and upgrade components separately Tailor dimensioning and features to suit the use case with 5G private networks Reduce cell-site footprint by relocating disaggregated functions to data centers Build a denser network by accessing more locations with compact installations Place processing and analytics where it is needed Simplify orchestration Broaden the ecosystem for competition Spur innovation with vendor diversity Select best-of-breed network components vRAN 11
  12. 12. 12 O-CU-UP O-CU-CP Multi-RAT CU Protocol Stack O-RU: PHY-low/RF O-DU: RLC/MAC/PHY-high + Hardware accelerators RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) non-Real Time Orchestration and Automation RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) near-Real Time DevOps Accelerate 5G innovation with modular components and standardized open interfaces O-RAN architecture CU: Central unit; DU: Digital unit; eMBB: Enhanced mobile broadband; NF: Network function; mMTC: Massive machine type communications; O-: ORAN-; RIC: RAN intelligent controller; RU: Radio unit Set the foundation for interoperability by design with standardized open interfaces Drive distributed development and operations (DevOps) with modular network components Build a common platform for public networks and the growing private network market Leverage a broader ecosystem for high-performance 5G with best-in-class functionality Accelerate feature development, problem resolution and product differentiation
  13. 13. 13 CU: Central unit; DU: Digital unit; eMBB: Enhanced mobile broadband; NF: Network function; mMTC: Massive machine type communications; O-: ORAN-; RIC: RAN intelligent controller; RU: Radio unit Optimize architecture for application with O-RAN O-RAN offers a comprehensive set of network architectures for different application constraints Application-specific constraints influence network topology Regional cloud Regional cloud Regional cloud Regional cloud Regional cloud Edge cloud Edge cloud Edge cloud O-RAN Physical NF Edge Location E2 Edge cloud Cell site compute Cell site compute O-RAN Physical NF Cell Site O-RAN Physical NF Cell Site O-RAN Physical NF Cell Site O-RAN Physical NF Cell Site F1, E2 Open fronthaul O-RU F1 E2 E2 Near-RT RIC O-CU O-DU O-CU to O-DU O-DU to O-RU Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) 625 μs (125 km) 100 μs (20 km) Massive IoT (mMTC) 625 μs (125 km) 100 μs (20 km) URLLC control plane 625 μs (125 km) 100 μs (20 km) URLLC user plane 100 μs (20 km) 13 One-way distance and delay constraints Physical topologies Enhanced mobile broadband and Massive IoT URLLC
  14. 14. 14 COTS: Commercial off-the-shelf; O-CU: O-RAN central unit; O-DU: O-RAN distributed unit; O-RU: O-RAN radio unit; QoS: Quality of service; RAT: Radio access technology; RT: Real-time RAN Intelligent Controllers (RIC) unlock new capabilities for the intelligent RAN O-RAN architecture • Robust RAN analytics for wide area networks • Train machine learning models at scale • Enforce intelligent policy control Non-Real Time RIC • Deep learning with fine-resolution data • Drive AI/ML-based performance optimization for complex, interdependent RAN algorithms Near-Real Time RIC • Add RAN Intelligent Controllers to the vRAN COTS platform • Dimension network intelligence with network capacity • Ensure secure access to training data Scale intelligence securely with the network Regional cloud A1 Design Inventory Policy Configuration RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) non-RT Orchestration and Automation RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) non-Real Time Edge cloud RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) near-Real Time Radio connection mgmt. Mobility mgmt. QoS mgmt. Interference mgmt. Trained models Open fronthaul O-RU: PHY-low/RF vO-DU vO-CU F1 E2 O1
  15. 15. 15 AAL: Acceleration abstraction layer; NF: Network function; O-Cloud: O-RAN cloud; OFH: Open fronthaul Drive vRAN performance and efficiency with hardware accelerators O-RAN architecture 15 • Abstracted accelerator model fully decouples HW and SW for maximum flexibility with virtualized or containerized network functions • Pass-through accelerator model reduces latency between latency-sensitive or real- time network functions and hardware accelerators Two accelerator deployment models O-Cloud NF AAL Driver NF AAL Driver Backend Accelerator Accelerator Abstracted accelerator model Pass through accelerator model VirtIO SR-IOV Two CPU offload architectures CPU Look-aside HW accelerator for offloading functions selectively F(n-1) F2 Accelerator Abstraction Layer (AAL) Downlink Uplink Inline HW accelerator for offloading functional chains Downlink Uplink F3 F4 Fn F1 CPU AAL F1 F2 F3 F(n-1) Fn
  16. 16. 16 F1 FAPI / nFAPI CUS Digital Unit (DU) Digital Unit (DU) COTS: Commercial off-the-shelf; CUS: Control, User and Synchronization plane; L1: Layer 1 - PHY; L2: Layer 2 – MAC and RLC; MAC: Medium access control; nFAPI: Network functional application platform interface; RLC: Radio link control; SWaP: Size, weight and power Reduce DU SWaP with HW-accelerated real-time functions Modularize with nFAPI for L2 on COTS HW and a fully-accelerated inline PHY Optimize physical parameters for PHY layer efficiency with HW accelerators 16 Efficiently handle multiple functions with inline accelerators vCU L2/L1 interface RLC MAC CPU High PHY on CPU F 3 F 4 F n F 1 F (n-1) F 2 Low PHY RF Radio Unit Look-aside hardware PHY acceleration Accelerator Abstraction Layer (AAL) L3/L2 interface Fronthaul interface RLC MAC CPU AAL F (n-1) F 1 Low PHY RF Radio Unit Inline HW PHY acceleration F (n) F 2 vCU L3/L2 interface Fronthaul interface L2/L1 interface Size Weight Power DU without HW acceleration DU with HW acceleration SWaP
  17. 17. 17 Source: https://www.idc.com/events/futurescape Digital intelligence in the cloud will drive the enterprise of the future IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Future of Digital Infrastructure 2021 automated digital infrastructure for business resiliency and security 60% cloud-native architectures for core business applications 75% embedded AI functions in their business- critical workloads 55% Intelligent networks Modular network components Hyperscale technologies Edge cloud Hardware accelerators vRAN Enterprises in 2024
  18. 18. 18 Reduce end-to-end latency with 5G and MEC for industrial IoT and delay-sensitive applications, e.g. Boundless XR Support multiple services by deploying network and compute resources opportunistically for various latency, throughput and reliability needs DU: Distributed unit; MEC: Multi-access edge compute; PHY: Physical layer; RU: Radio unit; vCore: Virtual core network; vCU: Virtual central unit; vRAN: Virtual radio access network; vUPF: Virtual user plane function Transform industry and enterprise with 5G, vRAN and MEC Increase data security and privacy by keeping data local and physically secure DU RU Core hub Edge data centers Small cell Small cell Backhaul vUPE MEC 5G public network 5G private network vCore Private data sources Secure use of private data RU DU Midhaul vCU Increase availability and scalability • by using common edge compute resources for both vRAN and MEC • by independently scaling resources for control plane and user plane traffic DU RU Core hub Edge data centers Small cell Small cell Backhaul vUPE MEC 5G public network 5G private network vCore Private data sources Secure use of private data Seamless access to public data RU DU Midhaul vCU DU RU Core hub Edge data centers Small cell Small cell Backhaul vUPE MEC 5G public network 5G private network vCore Private data sources Secure use of private data Seamless access to public data RU DU Midhaul vCU DU RU Core hub Edge data centers Small cell Small cell Backhaul vUPE MEC 5G public network 5G private network vCore Private data sources Secure use of private data Seamless access to public data RU DU Midhaul vCU
  19. 19. 19 Advance 5G with network slicing Protect end-to-end QoS between services and sandbox new services Tailor network architecture to service-specific latency needs Position resources to suit deployment constraints Build one private network with an on-prem edge for multiple use cases
  20. 20. 20 Independent private network scenario UPF On-site edge Integrated private network scenario DU RU CU-UP CU-CP Advance 5G with network slicing Protect end-to-end QoS between services and sandbox new services Tailor network architecture to service-specific latency needs Position resources to suit deployment constraints Build one private network with an on-prem edge for multiple use cases More centralized Lower latency Lowest latency Regional cloud eMBB Massive IoT Centralized scenario Cell sites Local edge eMBB Massive IoT Boundless XR V2X / URLLC Local edge scenario UPF CU-UP DU RU CU-CP CU-UP RU DU CU-UP UPF A scalable and flexible wireless edge eMBB Massive IoT Boundless XR V2X URLLC Industrial IoT DU RU CU-UP CU-CP eMBB Massive IoT Boundless XR Industrial IoT On-site edge UPF
  21. 21. Digital twins for predictive maintenance Real-time asset tracking and forecasting Untethered collaboration with low latency Drive new efficiencies and innovation with an integrated 5G private network and edge Cloud 5G network APIs open interfaces with the private edge to facilitate: • Responsive interactivity • Distributed AI • Cloud processing Private network Private edge API: Application programming interface Public edge APIs Firewall CU DU RIC
  22. 22. 1 Qualcomm 5G RAN Platforms Building open and innovative cellular infrastructure with high performance Modem-RF System. Qualcomm Radio Unit Platform, and Qualcomm Distributed Unit Platform are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. ®
  23. 23. High Performance Modem-RF System Flexible, scalable, O-RAN compatible Designed for Macro and Small cells vRAN with hardware acceleration Integrated mmWave & Sub-6 GHz solution with Global band Support Powering the future of the 5G networks 5G RAN Platforms
  24. 24. General-purpose COTS hardware Driving transition to Infrastructure 2.0 Powered by extended portfolio of Qualcomm® 5G RAN platforms Internet and 3rd party cloud Edge data centers 10101 10100 01010 11010 10101 10100 01010 11010 10101 10100 01010 11010 Standard-based open RAN interfaces Virtualized software from multiple vendors Qualcomm High-performance Modem-RF System High performance Modem-RF Virtualization with hardware acceleration Flexible, scalable, O-RAN compatible From Macro to Small Cells Integrated Sub-6 and mmWave solution 5G RAN Platforms Radio Unit Platform Distributed Platform Radio Unit Platform
  25. 25. Follow us on: For more information, visit us at: www.qualcomm.com & www.qualcomm.com/blog Thank you Nothing in these materials is an offer to sell any of the components or devices referenced herein. ©2018-2021 Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its affiliated companies. All Rights Reserved. Qualcomm is a trademark or registered trademark of Qualcomm Incorporated. Other products and brand names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. References in this presentation to “Qualcomm” may mean Qualcomm Incorporated, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and/or other subsidiaries or business units within the Qualcomm corporate structure, as applicable. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of our engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of our products and services businesses, including our QCT semiconductor business.

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5G networks are poised to deliver an unprecedented amount of data from a richer set of use cases than we have ever seen. This makes efficient networking in terms of scalability, cost, and power critical for the sustainable growth of 5G. Cloud technologies such as virtualization, containerization and orchestration are now powering a surge of innovation in virtualized radio access network (vRAN) infrastructure with modular hardware and software components, and standardized interfaces. While commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware platforms provide the compute capacity for running vRAN software, hardware accelerators will also play a major role in offloading real-time and complex signal processing functions. Together, COTS platforms and hardware accelerators provide the foundation for building the intelligent 5G network and facilitate innovative new use cases with the intelligent wireless edge.

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