Instant 5G Upgrade

4G Evolves to 5G

Once 4G was entirely the domain of closed, monolithic network vendors, served only by the three or four largest companies, and we were told to wait until 5G for open networks.
But as 5G approaches, an interesting phenomenon has developed.  As we anticipate the evolution of networks to 5G, we are also seeing OpenRAN deployments in 4G networks based on 5G protocols.  For example, many 4G networks are no longer using EPC, which was software that handled both control and data plane functions all-in-one, and instead are deploying UPF with an OpenFlow-like controller (SMF), separating between the control and user planes, as well as Radio Access Network functions like Centralized Units (CU) and sync card for Distributed Units (DU) with optional scaling to support higher fronthaul rates.  While the throughput is still 4G, the protocols being used are from the 5G framework defined by 3GPP.
In such a topology, where applying OpenRAN to a 4G network, it makes sense to deploy a vehicle that can be used today in the 4G network and can serve upcoming 5G network performance and latency requirements.  It would be counterproductive and expensive for an operator to install a standard NIC in a 4G or 4G Evolved network today, only to need to upgrade it later when deploying true 5G.

ACE-NICs for 4G Now and
For 5G Now or Later

This is where Ethernity Networks can offer the best of both worlds.  With our ACE-NIC FPGA SmartNICs, operators can deploy a high-performance acceleration card with full routing on the NIC to meet an operator’s current 4G needs, and they can use the exact same card for an instant 5G upgrade whenever the 5G infrastructure is ready for deployment.
The alternative is truly a mess.  Some SmartNICs for 4G cannot handle the increased throughput of 5G, requiring upgrades or significantly more servers when 5G is deployed. Even adding servers isn’t a perfect solution, as a switch is still required between traffic flows.  Other SmartNICs might support high throughput, but they require external routers to handle offload functions and forwarding.  That leads to another vendor, another platform to integrate, and another hop on the data path.  The management is simply a nightmare.
Ethernity, though, offers packet processing, DPI, crypto offload, and complete routing and forwarding functionality on the NIC, with seamless integration via DPDK APIs, running on the same platform as the rest of the solution.  ACE-NICs can be scaled for 4G or 5G throughputs without any upgrade or additional servers.  In fact, there is no need to change anything at all.  The ACE-NIC serves as the interface between the VNF and the DPDK, merging seamlessly into the virtualization, and handling the forwarding using the same management.
Operators can build their offering wisely, to take their networks from 4G to 5G with the same server backbone incorporating the same ACE-NIC FPGA SmartNICs, just scaled to handle the proper amount of bandwidth for the current or future network.
And because our solution is FPGA-based, we can charge 4G prices now and scale the price to 5G rates under a licensing framework to support the higher bandwidth only when the operator is ready to provide true 5G performance.
This is the concept of Instant 5G Upgrade. Plan your network correctly now by deploying an ACE-NIC SmartNIC both your existing 4G infrastructure and your future 5G infrastructure, so that you won’t need to invest as much later in additional servers, external routers, or other external proprietary elements.