Qualcomm has announced increased industry support for its Open RAN SoC platforms, with backing from vendors and operators for its RAN SoC ramping up.
In autumn 2020, Qualcomm announced it would be producing a platform for Open RAN solutions for DUs, RUs and small cells. In September 2022 it began sampling for the DU and RU with its X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and Qualcomm QRU100 5G RAN Platform, and at this year’s MWC is has announced an expansion of partners, and also the involvement of some operators.
Mike Roberts, Product Marketing, Qualcomm, said that the partnerships are going to a “significant step on the road to promoting 5G Open RAN globally and boosting the ecosystem.”
Qualcomm Technologies and Dell Technologies will develop a 5G vDU, integrating the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card into Dell PowerEdge servers.
With the collaboration, the new vDU solution would feature the L1 software of Qualcomm Technologies’ PCIe inline accelerator card with the Dell PowerEdge servers, along with O-RAN fronthaul and 5G NR Layer 1 High (L1 High) processing.
last year Dell was demonstrating a L1 accelerator card based on marvell’s Octeon SoC. It said that the Qualcomm partnership would expand Dell’s Layer 1 acceleration solution options, with the Qualcomm card utilising a PCIe slot inside the latest generation Dell PowerEdge XR8000 and XR5610 servers.
The Mavenir announcement is for Mavenir to integrate Qualcomm’s RU-focussed platform, the QRU100 5G RAN platform, within its Open BEAM RU portfolio. Last year Mavenir introduced its range of Open BEAM RU designs at MWC, with the aim of kickstarting a more diverse range of Open RAN RUs.
The Qualcomm platform is powering a massive MIMO 32TRX Active Antenna Unit (AAU), and it is also using AI based technology to deliver enhanced energy efficiency.
The OpenBeam mMIMO 32TRX AAU will compete with 32 TRX versions from the major, integrated incumbent vendors whose recent products have also been claimed to increase operational and enenrgy efficiency.
While Mavenir is building a vRU, NEC joins Dell in using Qualcomm’s platform for a vDU. NEC’s vDU is based on Qualcomm’s X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card within HPE’s ProLiant DL110 Platform, and Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux. (The HPE platform is one of the servers that is supporting Nokia’s new RAN accelerator card for Cloud RAN.)
Katsumi Tanoue, General Manager, vRAN Business Department, NEC Corporation, said, “The Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card outperforms others in processing power and low power consumption. We are pleased to offer the vDU solution in combination with NEC’s upper layer software.”
There was also backing from NTT DoCoMo.
“A benefit of Open RAN is the capability to introduce technology advancements by combining strengths of multiple companies,” said Sadayuki Abeta, VP, Global Head of Open RAN Solutions, NTT DOCOMO. “We expect to achieve high capacity and a power efficient vDU together with NEC and Qualcomm Technologies.”
Trial availability of NEC’s vDU solution is expected in the third quarter of 2023 and commercial launch is expected in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Viettel and Qualcomm Technologies have an existing announcement from May 2022, and today they said that the first versions of Viettel’s 5G Du and RU, based respectively on the X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and QRU100 5GRAN Platform, are completed.
Viettel is unveiling prototypes of the DU and RU at MWC, with support for mmWave and 64T64R
down to 4T4R radios, with integrated 300Gbps Ethernet interface, and support for Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). Viettel said the units would help it lower deployment costs. Commercial launch of is DUs and RUs is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2023.