Intel is Looking to Make an Impact in 5G With vRAN Lineup

Intel logo on a flag

When it comes to 5G, it’s no secret that this emerging technology is set to push some major revenue through many different sectors. For Intel, this means navigating the network infrastructure sector. A market that Intel believes will be a $25 billion silicon opportunity by the year 2023. To compete in this space, Intel is announcing an increase in products available through its hardware, software, and network solutions to keep up with the direction in which virtualized Radio Access Networks (vRANs) are heading. Intel’s Cristina Rodriguez, the Vice President in the Data Center Group and General Manager of the Wireless Access Network Division said, “The radio access network is the next network transformation.” She continued, “The RAN is gaining importance especially from an innovation point of view.”

The opportunities for vRANs increase when you consider the 5G landscape. There is a need for this technology in many of the 5G functions that we are seeing come to life including artificial intelligence (AI) and edge computing. “This confluence magnifies the opportunities for the RAN, making what is already an attractive market the focal point of future investment and innovation,” said Rodriguez. The biggest hit so far for Intel is its FlexRAN software reference architecture which received an immediate positive reception due to its improvement to help bolster its capabilities in the multiple input multiple output (MIMO) mid-band pipeline. This allows an increase in bandwidth and support for ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC).

The political atmosphere of the world and wireless as a whole may also present additional opportunities for Intel. There has been a backlash against China and its telecom companies, particularly Huawei, who was looking to help build infrastructures for 5G networks throughout the United States and around the world. There have been bans and restrictions on using Chinese companies by the U.S. government. American companies are also prohibited from working with Chinese telecom companies due to sanctions brought on by the White House. 

While there are security threats at the heart of these concerns, tensions have not been helped by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond supply chains slowing down, which is hindering the progress of many wireless companies, China believes these sanctions are retaliation for the outbreak and other political games by The White House. Regardless, the absence of Huawei and ZTE in the American marketplace and a growing number of European countries limiting or banning the countries is paving the way for Intel to enter the market.

Intel is seeing success in Japan as Rakuten is crediting the company’s technology as a key reason for its success in launching its 5G network this year. The highlight was Intel’s FlexRAN component. “By building a virtualized, cloud-native network we realize significant economies of scale that kept the capital and operating costs of the network efficient. Harnessing proven cloud technologies and underpinning our network with Intel technologies like FlexRAN, Intel processors, Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), and OpenNESS toolkit, gives us a powerful foundation to deliver immersive experiences and support a variety of edge computing applications,” said executive Tareq Amin.

The Silicon Valley giant is also seeing success with a variety of other components including its vRAN Dedicated Accelerator ACC100, Next Generation Intel Xeon processors, its 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, and its Enhanced Intel Select Solutions. Intel is confident as it has been working with this concept for a decade with Rodriguez stating that, “Intel started virtualizing the core 10 years ago.” The company will look to take this technology in many directions, but for 5G, it is opening the doors for new capabilities like never before.

Source: RCR Wireless