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How Nokia and Intel boost performance and save power in 5G networks

4th Gen Intel Xeon® Scalable processors and software

CSPs set to save on 5G power consumption and footprint following Nokia and Intel collaboration.

All communications service providers face what we might call the ‘network energy paradox’ – that is, despite traffic in networks being highly variable, with frequent peaks and troughs, power consumption remains broadly the same. This is unhelpful when CSPs are keen to improve the energy efficiency of their networks by cutting their power consumption and carbon footprint, while also seeking to reduce their network costs and boost performance.

Tackling this challenge demands companies who are acknowledged leaders in their field in software and hardware - and when it comes to joint innovations, they don’t come any better than Nokia and Intel. The two companies are announcing a new technical collaboration to improve the performance, energy-efficiency, security and ‘monetization-ability’ of networks. 

The collaboration aims to combine and optimize Nokia’s 5G capable cloud-native algorithms with the innovations of the 4th Gen Intel Xeon® Scalable processors and software.

Nokia’s software prowess includes some of the world’s best network software, including 5G core, as well as the ability to observe the network and traffic and develop actionable insights.

As with each new generation of Intel’s processors, the latest Xeon processors usher in energy savings through silicon technology, micro-architecture, accelerators, and kernel software. Additionally, Intel has introduced its Infrastructure Power Manager (IPM) software for 5G Core, which adjusts the run-time server power consumption to match the data traffic.

Nokia engineers have demonstrated a 30% gain in the performance of the 5G core User Plane Function (UPF) with the latest 4th Gen Intel Xeon processors, when compared to the previous generation processor in the same power envelope. This result directly translates to a 30% generation-over-generation improvement in energy efficiency. 

And that was before any power management was factored in - the gains were much higher when using Intel’s IPM for 5G Core. For instance, using a lower throughput rate to simulate non-busy-hour traffic, Nokia engineers measured 43% run-time CPU power savings with Nokia 5G UPF. Again, this was achieved using the latest 4th Gen Intel Xeon processor, IPM software and by exercising power-performance states. 

These two results suggest that, when extended to the entire Core and other network software, they would lead to very significant OPEX cost savings, a reduction in CO2 emissions, and footprint improvements for a CSP. 

The cooperation between these two industry giants doesn’t end there - Nokia and Intel engineers are continuing to develop a comprehensive set of optimizations and results for the entire Core and other network operations software.

Nokia has just announced an ambitious new business that will further our reach from CSPs and Enterprise to the vast Developer Community by exposing the programable persona of networks (Network as code), allowing new applications and services to be developed with ease. Our engineers are using the enhanced capabilities offered by data-center hardware to push the state-of-the-art with network as code, allowing our customers to offer higher end value-added services cost-effectively.

CSPs need to tackle the ‘network energy paradox’ if they are to successfully transition to cloud-native 5G networks. By joining forces and bringing together software and hardware expertise, Nokia and Intel are showing the path to a future of reduced network energy consumption combined with higher network performance.

Marcelo Cheminn Madruga

About Marcelo Cheminn Madruga

Marcelo Cheminn Madruga currently serves as head of Technology and Platforms of the Core Networks business at Nokia with over 18 years of experience in the telecommunications industry including senior positions in engineering and R&D management. He lived in several countries and helped built multiple products and engineering teams. Marcelo is always looking for new technologies that help solve interesting engineering and business problems. 

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