Generally, the centralized core of data centers is the one with high-speeds and ultra-low latencies. But this power needs to be distributed to the edges of networks so that technologies like 5G can really take off. Having power at the edge is the only way to provide low latency support to applications such as self-driving vehicles, high-frequency trading, or mobile VR.
In the following post, we’ll dive deeper into why the Distributed Edge Computing Infrastructure is the key to 5G.
5G: Expectations and Predictions
Huawei Technologies has already run some demos and proved that their Huawei’s Mate X can achieve downstream speeds of 1Gbps and upstream speed of close to 100 Mbps. When you can compare it with the average 4G/LTE which tops speeds of 200Mbps, the difference is huge.
But other predictions raise these expectations, for example, Samsung predicts that the speed will be around 7.5 Gbps when the 5G technology has reached a point of maturity.
Just as 4G LTE, the 5G technology is being developed out of a reaction to the unbelievable and growing number of devices looking for an Internet connection. But it is not only the growth of mobile smartphones but also millions of IoT devices, from thermostats, self-driving cars, security cameras, etc. Thousands of devices trying to communicate at high speeds under the same cellular access point brings many new challenges.
The 5G mobile technology will have to deal with really high volumes of data, all at faster speeds, and coming from a small geographical area. This results in decentralizing the data center and pushing for more powerful computational resources at the network edge.
5G Users Will Need To Be Closer To The Edge
5G works with ultra-high frequencies which are called the millimeter Wave (mmWave). The range for this type of frequencies is very short and can’t go through most dense objects, it can even be degraded with rain. Unlike its 3G or 4G predecessors that could cover a couple of kilometers without affecting the signal, 5G mmWave will have a very localized coverage, ranging from ten meters to a few hundred.
The following table shows a brief description on the evolution of the mobile broadband technologies.
Why is 5G using these frequencies?
The spectrum where these mmWave frequencies are located is pretty much unused, so this gives 5G an opportunity to really optimize the bandwidth. Of course, the 5G standard also uses lower band frequencies called “sub-6GHz” which will help counterbalance the differences between coverage and bandwidth.
For the short wavelength (mmWave), 5G uses small cells which will likely be deployed in geographically denser areas, such as cities.
The challenge is that low-latency applications such as self-driving vehicles or High-Frequency Trading will need to be as close as possible to the radio. Again, this is where edge computing infrastructure can play a key role in the further development of 5G. The cloud or application providers will want to be as close as possible to the end-user, in order to provide a good experience.
Why Edge Computing Can Be Key To 5G?
Traditionally, the center or core network holds much of the computational power. This is the case with Cloud Computing providers, Telecoms, Internet providers, and large Enterprises. On the other hand, the outsides or edges are the distributed geographical locations, that are in charge of nothing more than the access.
The term edge computing was born as a way to decentralize this computational power from the main data center and distribute it to resources located on the edge, such as mobile broadband antennas, CPEs, branch routers, and even terminals.
Benefits of 5G Distributed edge computing
- Low latency
- High bandwidth
- End-user experience
Knowing how important is to be closer to the edge, cloud providers such as Google and Amazon are building their services around geographically distributed networks that are closer to the end-user. Amazon’s AWS Content Delivery Network CDN tailors content specific to an area and delivers it with lower latencies.
In edge computing, the computational power sits closer to the destination in order to reduce latency. So if there is a less geographical distance between source and destination, the rewards are lightspeeds.
An ultra-low latency network is exactly what 5G is looking for, and edge computing can provide it. The idea to optimize the edge is all about reducing latency which is critical to many services.
A good example of this is the High-Frequency Trading “HFT”. The Financial institutions buy real estate as close as possible to the Exchange and Trading offices, just to get the trading feeds close to the speed of light. A high latency network of a couple of milliseconds in advanced trading might mean a loss of a couple of millions.
Other applications that will benefit from low latency edge computing?
- Online Gaming
- Internet of Things
- Big Data
- Cryptocurrency trading
5G Edge Computing Infrastructure
As mentioned above, edge computing refers to the infrastructure that processes data as close as possible to the source. In a 5G mobile network, the edge is the network that is located as close as possible to the end-user, it can be considered the device itself (such as Huwaei’s Mate X) and the wireless antennas or Base Stations.
The Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) will be an essential building block for 5G as it can help build power at the mobile network edge. This platform will offer, computing and storage, running applications through APIs, and even help process radio network capabilities, such as solving network congestion.
With this type of power at the hands of the telecoms and Internet providers, it is likely that the 5G wireless infrastructure at the edge, will be like mini-Data Centers. But that power at the edge can only work with the improved mobile broadband characteristics of 5G.
Lanner Electronics Inc., is one of the earliest suppliers of white-box solutions aimed at 5G edge computing and virtualization. A couple of examples of hardware that could be located at the edge of the 5G network. White-boxes will likely become a true infrastructure solution.
Whitebox solutions could be used in the following applications:
- Multi-Access Edge Computing “MEC: This “architecture” is intended to bring ultra-low latency, real-time access, and high bandwidth to critical applications.
- Branch networking via vCPE and SD-WAN. Bringing the virtualized network closer to the edge with technologies such as vCPE and SD-WAN will benefit 5G.
- Cloud RAN. C-RAN is a centralized cloud computing architecture for (Radio Access Networks RAN). This technology is cheaper for providers in terms of CapEx and OpEx.
- Massive IoT Communications: White boxes can be set up at the edge to provide connectivity to a massive set of IoT devices.
Another great example of an edge infrastructure that can be a key in the 5G mobile wireless technology is the NCR-1510. This is a hardened white-box optimized for SD-WAN or uCPE. The NCR-1510 was built for cell tower-based applications that need a wide range of temperature resistance.
With the help of the distributed computing edge infrastructure, 5G will allow high performing services and ultra-low latency networks. Although the argument is clear, the inner workings for this scenario are not ready yet.
It is a fact that new applications brought by IoT, VR/AR, self-driving vehicles will demand ultra-low latency networks. The successful deployment of these applications will require powerful edge resources, radios, base stations, and terminals that are powerful enough to improve the end-user experience.