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NEC, Arm, Red Hat, and Qualcomm Demonstrate Open vRAN and 5G Core UPF Using Arm-Based CPUs

NEC, Arm, Red Hat, and Qualcomm Demonstrate Open vRAN and 5G Core UPF Using Arm-Based CPUs

NEC Corporation together with Arm, Red Hat, and Qualcomm Technologies, have successfully demonstrated end-to-end operation of NEC’s Open virtual Radio Access Network (vRAN) and 5G Core virtual User Plane Function (vUPF) products using the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and Arm Neoverse-based CPUs on Red Hat OpenShift in conditions equivalent to a commercial environment. The collaboration led to a successfully integrated and demonstrable solution that is optimized for total cost of ownership (TCO) and power efficiency for both edge and data centers.

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NEC’s O-RAN-compliant open vRAN and NEC’s 3GPP-compliant vUPF are carrier-grade quality cloud-native applications that support multiple servers and virtualization platforms and are highly flexible and scalable for a variety of network scenarios and configurations.

The new solution includes the HP RL300 server powered by Ampere Altra Arm Neoverse-based processors with the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card. The harnessing of an in-line accelerator is an example of Open RAN enabling a multi-vendor landscape using modern network equipment, independent of CPU architecture, as opposed to all workload processing being done on legacy, single-vendor equipment.

By successfully demonstrating call processing and packet continuity in conditions that are equivalent to a commercial environment and using Arm-based servers and X100 with enhanced power and space savings, the range of applications of Arm-based servers is now further expanded, confirming the potential to significantly reduce the TCO for mobile networks.

With this demonstration, NEC’s mobile virtualization software suites (Open vRAN and vUPF) have also proven a high degree of flexibility and portability over various servers and virtualization platforms.

Network sustainability continues to be a critical priority for service providers given the exponentially increasing traffic demands and associated processing power requirements. Therefore, innovation across leading technologies is important to help accelerate sustainability gains into the commercial network, which has been represented by this important milestone.

We received the following comment from Vodafone. 

Andy Dunkin, Open RAN RF & Digital Platform Development Manager, Vodafone Group Services, said: “Vodafone is excited to see this important diversification of the silicon eco-system with the demonstration of an Arm-based Open RAN platform, widening the choice of power efficient compute solutions. The commercial maturity of Arm-based architecture, combined with a high quality NEC vRAN and a promising HW acceleration from Qualcomm shows the continuing growth and maturity of Open RAN with products from best-in-class suppliers, focusing on innovation, energy efficiency and diversity supporting Vodafone and other Operators in their objectives for commercial deployment.”

NEC’s solution and further insights will be exhibited at MWC (Mobile World Congress) Barcelona 2024 within the Arm booth (Hall 2, Stand I60), February 26-29, 2024.  

Eddie Ramirez, vice president of go-to-market, Infrastructure Line of Business, Arm, said: “Realizing the full potential of 5G requires new thinking and new system architectures. Open RAN and virtualization are making this possible by enabling new architectures and compute options for telcos. This demonstration is an incredible example of the power of the Arm ecosystem in enabling real-world deployments of open RAN, proving TCO benefits for mobile networks by leveraging the performance-per-watt benefits of the Arm Neoverse platform.”

Gerardo Giaretta, Vice President, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., said: “This is an exciting demonstration that reinforces the Open RAN opportunity and validates the performance and power efficiency capabilities of the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN accelerator card, increasing sustainability while reducing network cost. We are honored to be part of this ecosystem collaboration to make 5G RAN more capable and accessible.”

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Honoré LaBourdette, Acting Senior Vice President, Global Telco, and Vice President, Telco Partner Ecosystem, Red Hat said: “Red Hat is dedicated to helping service providers extend the scope of their 5G network capabilities to deliver new customer experiences. The burgeoning technological innovation of 5G brings with it a crucial responsibility to combine our expertise with our partners to deliver more sustainable network operations for our customers. With this collaboration, NEC is able to utilize Red Hat OpenShift and energy efficient hardware from Arm and Qualcomm to optimize its RAN and 5G Core network solutions with reduced power consumption.”

 Phil Cutrone, senior vice president and general manager of Service Providers, OEM and Telco, HPE, said: “We’re excited to work with NEC in demonstrating new and innovative 5G solutions that we believe will shape the future of the industry. HPE ProLiant RL300 Gen11 servers offer an open and power-efficient platform for telco environments, broadening operator choice of infrastructure foundations for vRAN networks.”

Katsumi Tanoue, General Manager, Global Mobile Solution Department at NEC, said: “This demonstration is a proof-point where the latest HW technologies, combined with carrier-grade Open RAN SW result in energy efficient, innovative and competitive RAN solutions. We at NEC are looking forward to accelerating collaboration within the Open RAN eco-system and promoting diversity and competition for the benefit of Network Operators.”

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