Server Accelerators Feed 5G’s Need for Speed

The future of 5G + Edge, you might say, is in the cards. Server accelerator cards—graphical processing units (GPUs), field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs)—have an important role to play in reducing latency and improving bandwidth at the edge of the 5G network. With the volume of data generated by IoT and far-edge devices exploding, telcos must be prepared to accelerate the edge. Implementing server accelerator cards, as part of 5G new wave spectrum strategy, will help telcos deliver more data, faster.

Making the Far Edge Faster

 Let’s consider the use case of a disaggregated RAN at the far edge using an Open RAN (O-RAN) with a 7-2x functional split option (as defined in 3GPP). To serve the O-RAN distributed unit (O-DU) portion of the RAN, an accelerator card must satisfy three requirements:

  • A network interface card (NIC) with multiple ports of 10GbE, 25GbE, or even 100GbE;
  • Enhanced timing via G.8275.1 telecom grandmaster (T-GM) clock featuring Synchronous Ethernet (SyncE), IEEE 1588 precision time protocol (PTP), and physical layer (PHY) timestamping;
  • Network processing acceleration using FPGA, GPU, or ASIC.

Until we have a card that can satisfy these three requirements, in the short-term, multiple server plug-in cards can be used with memory sharing or a pipeline between them. Each card could handle one or more of the above requirements, or the telco might choose to integrate some or all of these cards on the motherboard.

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