First software-defined GPU-accelerated 5G network

First software-defined GPU-accelerated 5G network

Business news |
By Jean-Pierre Joosting

As global telecommunications companies explore how to cost-effectively deliver the latest applications, including AI, to the edge over 5G and upcoming 6G networks, they plan to deploy over 17 million 5G microcells and towers worldwide by 2025.

Building, managing and optimizing this new 5G infrastructure while maintaining quality-of-service delivery and maximizing the customer experience is the industry’s next big challenge.

NTT DOCOMO has announced it is deploying a GPU-accelerated wireless 5G virtual radio access network (vRAN) in Japan. This makes it the first-ever telco in the world to deploy a GPU-accelerated commercial 5G network.

DOCOMO’s move aims to address the multibillion-dollar problem of driving improvements in performance, total cost of ownership and energy efficiency while unlocking the flexibility, scalability and supply chain diversity promise of Open RAN.

The GPU-accelerated Open RAN infrastructure uses a high-performance 5G vRAN from Fujitsu built on the NVIDIA Aerial vRAN stack and NVIDIA Converged Accelerators. This combination enables telcos to create a fully software- and cloud-defined network that can dynamically allocate resources using industry-standard equipment.

“Open RAN offers the opportunity to build next-generation 5G networks with unprecedented flexibility and scalability thanks to multivendor connections,” said Sadayuki Abeta, global head of Open RAN solutions at NTT DOCOMO.

The Open RAN infrastructure incudes the first 5G vRAN for telco commercial deployment using the NVIDIA Aerial platform, with a hardened, carrier-grade vRAN stack. The platform brings together the NVIDIA Aerial vRAN stack for 5G, AI frameworks, accelerated compute infrastructure and long-term software support and maintenance.

Thanks to this combination of industry-shaping hardware, software, and the long-term support and maintenance typical for a commercial-grade software stack, this enables new performance thresholds. 

Cost and energy-efficiency benefits

Working with offerings from Fujitsu and Wind River, the new software-defined infrastructure uses the NVIDIA Aerial platform to lower costs and reduce power consumption. Compared to its existing 5G network deployments, DOCOMO says the it reduces total costs by up to 30%, network design utilization by up to 50%, and power consumption at base stations by up to 50%.

“Delivering a 5G Open RAN network that meets stringent performance requirements of operators is a significant accomplishment,” said Masaki Taniguchi, senior vice president and head of the Mobile System Business Unit at Fujitsu Limited. “Using our Fujitsu vCU/vDU, in combination with NVIDIA Aerial platform, will help network operators to efficiently build high-performance 5G networks for consumers and businesses alike.”

NVIDIA’s contribution to the DOCOMO rollout is part of a growing portfolio of 5G offerings that are driving transformation in the telecommunications industry. Anchored on NVIDIA Aerial vRAN stack and NVIDIA Converged Accelerators — combined with NVIDIA BlueField data processing units (DPUs) and a suite of AI frameworks — NVIDIA provides a high-performance, software-defined, cloud-native, AI-enabled 5G for on-premises and telco operators’ RAN.

Fujitsu, NVIDIA and Wind River have been working under the OREX (5G Open RAN service brand), which was launched by DOCOMO in February 2021, to develop the Open RAN 5G vRAN. OREX has been deployed in Japan based on Fujitsu’s virtualized DU (vDU) and virtualized CU (vCU) and leverages commercial off-the-shelf servers, the Wind River cloud platform, Fujitsu’s 5G vRAN software and the NVIDIA Aerial vRAN stack and NVIDIA Converged Accelerators.
“Wind River is working with NTT DOCOMO, Fujitsu and NVIDIA towards a vision of improved efficiency of RAN deployments and operations,” said Paul Miller, chief technology officer at Wind River. “Wind River Studio provides a cloud-native, distributed cloud, automation, and analytics solution based on open source, so that operators can deploy and manage their 5G edge networks globally at high scale with faster innovation. This solution is proven in highly scaled production deployments today.”

OREX: Building out from Japan

DOCOMO and its partners in OREX are promoting a multivendor, Open RAN-compliant 5G vRAN to the global operator community. The commercial deployment in Japan is a first step in the vision of OREX, where members can commercially validate their infrastructure and then promote them to other operators globally.

NVIDIA is working with DOCOMO and other partners to support operators around the world to deploy high-performance, energy-efficient, software-defined, commercial vRAN.

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