By Rose-Marie Friberg/Ericsson and Jeff Gowan/Wind River
The effectiveness of the 5G Edge will be the determining factor of the success of 5G overall. 5G use cases will drive the need to push webscale services out into the intelligent edge, as far as the end device. This requires taking some of the features previously only found in regional data centers and enabling them in a much smaller physical space. The key features to consider are resilience, cost and resource utilization, and of course performance. This blog discusses some of these issues in the context of a proof of concept collaboration between Ericsson and Wind River to demonstrate a high performance 5g cloud infrastructure platform at the intelligent edge, originally planned for Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Since MWC2020 was cancelled this year, Ericsson is making plans to show this demonstration in Ericsson Unboxed events closer to customer
Ericsson and Wind River have worked together for many years building solutions starting with the 3G revolution continuing into 5G. Ericsson of course is a world leader in 5G with a wide variety of telecommunications equipment, and Wind River is a provider of software infrastructure solutions such as Wind River Linux and Wind River Cloud Platform – both designed to meet the demanding latency, availability, and performance requirements of the 5G edge.
One of the key aspects for edge network services is resilience. The system must continue to deliver acceptable service levels even when the system is experiencing problems. If a service goes down for any reason it must recover seamlessly to serve the end user. Achieving this in the edge is different than in a data center and it puts high requirements on both the application delivering the service and the platform hosting the application. Resilience in one part of the stack is not enough, the entire stack needs to work together to deliver the promise of resilience, from hardware, platform, and up to application.
The Ericsson vCU application implements virtual packet processing function (PPF) that terminates traffic on upper layer – Packet Data Convergence Protocol (PDCP). It is designed with resilience in mind and delivers high KPIs in this area. These high KPIs are achieved based on Wind River Cloud Platform support, which is designed for high resilience through quick discovery and restart if a guest goes down.
The 5G edge will require 10’s of thousands of cell sites, or more, which will require at least thousands of aggregation sites. The cost for deploying multiple edge sites can be very high if the system at the edge isn’t fully utilized. This requires both the service and the platform to utilize the hardware in the most efficient way. Ericsson has created a hardware platform aimed for edge uses cases with the HDS SFF (Short Form Factor). The HDS SFF is minimal system to fit in telecom installation at edge locations. Cloud Platform is a Kubernetes-based container platform that runs on a very small footprint and is ideal for such installations. Cloud Platform will use minimal resources while still keeping full HA (High Availability), similar to other platforms designed for big installations with several nodes.
Even though resilience and low footprint is important, you can never lose the aspect of performance. The primary objective for telecom access networks is to deliver data in high throughput in combination with ultra-low latency. Both the Ericsson vCU and Wind River Cloud Platform are designed to meet high performance requirements. Other solutions struggle to deliver on this promise especially given the resilience and resource utilization discussed above, but the technologies from Ericsson and Wind River prove that high throughput at the edge is possible even though the low footprint.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this demo and other 5G technologies with you. This is just one example of the pioneering work that both of our companies are doing to make 5G a reality. Please contact us and/or look for opportunities to see the demo during an Ericsson Unboxed event coming soon.