PCIe accelerator card simplifies 5G O-RAN

PCIe accelerator card simplifies 5G O-RAN

New Products |
By Nick Flaherty

Xilinx has developed an FPGA-based PCIe accelerator cards for O-RAN (open radio access network) distributed units (O-DUs) and virtual baseband units (vBBUs) in 5G networks.

The T1 card is built using the same FPGAs and IP already being deployed in 5G networks and is the only PCIe card to provide both O-RAN fronthaul protocols and layer 1 offload. The offloading processing to the FPGA reduces the number of CPU cores required in a system and provides greater 5G throughput while reducing overall system power consumption and cost.

The demand for O-DU and vBBU solutions is rapidly increasing because they provide an open and standard platform for a wide range of 5G virtualized services. The T1 card is a small form factor, single-slot card that can be plugged into standard x86 or non-x86 servers to achieve the real-time protocol processing performance required for 5G virtualized O-DU platforms.

It offloads line-rate and compute-intensive functions including channel encoding/decoding using hardened LDPC and Turbo codecs, rate matching/de-matching, HARQ buffer management, and more, freeing the processor cores for running other services. The T1 card simplifies 5G deployments by offering a turnkey solution through ecosystem partners that includes both O-RAN fronthaul and 5G NR layer 1 reference designs, as well as pre-validated software to enable operators, system integrators, and OEMs to get to market quickly.

“With Xilinx’s experience in the data accelerator market, we are excited to now see their expansion into 5G Telco accelerator cards,” said Pasi Toivonen, head of the Edge Computing Platform, Nokia. “Our Airframe design team at Nokia looks forward to continuing to work with Xilinx to see these exciting new options and capabilities for the growing 5G market.”

The offloading of critical channel coding functions from the CPU to the T1 card delivers up to 45x encoding and 23x decoding throughput improvement relative to the same server without acceleration. The T1 card enables the use of fewer CPU cores, driving down system cost and overall power consumption. Additionally, for O-RAN fronthaul termination, it can process multiple sectors of 5G NR 4TRX at 100 MHz OBW with its 50 Gbps of optical ports.  The Fronthaul and L1 bandwidths are matched for optimal scalability; the more towers you want, the more cards you add to the server. 

“The trend toward network virtualization and O-RAN has given us an opportunity with the Xilinx T1 Telco Accelerator Card to drive the next steps of disaggregation of standard networks, enabling our expansion into every corner of the 5G market,” said Dan Mansur, vice president of marketing, Wired and Wireless Group, Xilinx. “Working closely with our ecosystem partners, Xilinx hardware, IP and software are leading the innovation and realization of 5G O-RAN networks.”

“As 5G infrastructure investments continue to grow to support new and higher bandwidth services, providing solutions that can offer greater system acceleration to meet growing scale and bandwidth requirements is critical,” said Daryl Schoolar, practice leader for Fixed and Mobile Infrastructure at market research firm OMDIA. “With growing operator interest in O-RAN and virtualization, the Xilinx T1 Telco Accelerator Card is a compelling solution that is well-timed to serve this need while also enabling important areas such as software and services at the edge.”

The T1 card is available and sampling now to customers worldwide. Volume production is expected by the beginning of 2021.

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