Ericsson, Intel look to double down on Open RAN, AI innovation with Tech Hub

Ericsson and Intel have announced what they claim is their latest “milestone” in comms tech development at their Tech Hub in Santa Clara.

Since the Tech Hub collaboration began in May 2022, Ericsson and Intel have been exploring prospects in the fields of security, sustainability, energy efficiency and ecosystem joint solutions.

The firms already claim a series of firsts due to their collaboration, including the end-to-end Cloud radio access network (RAN) call on 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Processors with vRAN Boost achieved in June 2023. Based on a third-party Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS) platform, the release is said to have shown the portability of Ericsson’s Cloud RAN software across Intel CPU generations.

Ericsson and Intel are also collaborating on software optimisations to maximise benefits of the built-in telemetry capabilities in Intel Xeon processors to dynamically manage the power of the processor.

The companies have extended their collaboration to focus on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in the RAN domain. Ericsson is working towards a democratised AI framework that embraces a portable and compute-agnostic methodology for AI inference at the edge. This approach is designed to ensure the effective use of resources at the far edge, breaking free from vertical-specific constraints and enabling a more versatile AI application across network ecosystems.

The joint work extends to the integration of insights from the Intel vRAN AI Development Kit, which can potentially speed up the availability of an rApps ecosystem and amplify Ericsson’s network automation and optimisation.

Ericsson is one of the vendors in the consortium led by AT&T and Verizon that received an award from national telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for establishing an Open RAN testing, evaluation and validation plan. Committing to increase its investment in network innovation particularly in Open RAN and AI technologies, the company said its Intel collaboration reinforces its commitment to promote interoperability, fostering the development of a “robust” and Open RAN ecosystem.

“Our Tech Hub collaboration spans many cloud RAN enhancements using Intel technology, enabling innovation within cloud-based networks, and recently, we achieved our first Cloud RAN call on Intel’s Granite Rapids-D processor,” said Mårten Lerner, head of product area networks at Ericsson. 

“We look forward to expanding our joint efforts with Intel to shape the adoption of AI technologies in RAN. This includes work on an AI Dev kit for rApp development to leverage commercial-off-the-shelf hardware at the far edge for AI workloads, while addressing infrastructure requirements for AI model inference.”

Dan Rodriguez, corporate vice-president and general manager for Intel’s network and edge solutions group, added: “Ericsson’s successful first call on our Granite Rapids-D processor is an extraordinary accomplishment made possible by our companies’ close and long-term collaboration, as well as the inherent software portability of the Intel Xeon processor.

“It’s yet another proof point that the Ericsson-Intel Tech Hub continues to be an engine of innovation that’s driving new milestones in RAN evolution, as well as exploring emerging future technologies such as artificial intelligence and new RAN algorithms.”

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