Picocom preps ARM-based 5G Open RAN small cell design

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By Nick Flaherty

Picocom has tested its 5G Open RAN chip with software from Radisys and the two are developing a small cell design with an ARM-based network processor..

Picocom’s PC802 small cell RISC-V System-on-Chip (SoC), designed in Bristol, UK, and Hangzhou, China, was tested with the Radisys Connect RAN 5G software. The two had already demonstrated video streamed over the chip.

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The interoperability is based on the O-RAN split 7.2 architecture. It includes the Radisys Connect RAN 5G software (Layer 2 and Layer 3) running on a commercial off the shelf (COTS) x86-based server. This links to the Layer 1 (L1) and Open Fronthaul (OFH) running on the PC802 on an accelerator card via the Small Cell Forum FAPI interface.

The same FAPI stream is used not just to control L1 processing on PC802 but directly controls OFH Control-Plane and User-Plane processing, transparently combining the FAPI and OFH protocols.  The interface between L2 and L1 is compliant with the FAPI protocol.

The PC802 is a purpose-designed PHY SoC for 5G NR/LTE small cell disaggregated and integrated Open RAN architectures that includes support for 4G. The SoC supports Open RAN specifications and interfaces with a Layer 2/3 stack via the SCF FAPI interface over PCIe.

The two companies are now preparing an integrated small cell solution based on PC802, with the RAN software running on a low form factor ARM-based network processor.

“Close teamwork between the Picocom and Radisys teams has enabled a high degree of interoperability in these early days of PC802. We’ve established a plan of interoperability/demo phases over 2022 for different RAN architectures and roadmap features. We recognise the significant contribution that Radisys has provided at this important validation phase of PC802,” said Vicky Messer, VP Product Management, Picocom.

“This has been a great partnership with Picocom to deliver an interoperable Open RAN small cell platform to market,” said Munish Chhabra, head of Mobility Software and Services, Radisys. “Our award-winning Connect RAN 5G NR software suite is compliant with 3GPP and O-RAN Alliance specifications, as well as the SCF’s FAPI specification, and it is playing a critical role in this Open RAN solution, making our joint vision of a thriving Open RAN ecosystem a reality today.”

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