With the continued evolution of 5G, RAN and now virtualized RAN (vRAN), modern networks are increasingly relying on software-defined architecture and cloud-native technologies. This requires streamlining the deployment and management of applications across different environments. The transition to 5G often results in higher electricity consumption from increased site density and sub-optimal use of the underlying resources. As a result, service providers are beginning to explore new ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce their environmental impact, such as optimizing network design and operations with energy-efficient hardware, and implementing power and thermal management techniques. 

Sustainable computing is a multidimensional challenge across all industries, with service providers keen to reduce power consumption and support sustainability goals, particularly in regards to the RAN. According to a Red Hat-sponsored sustainability study, RAN is responsible for 75% of a service provider’s total power consumption. Adopting more energy efficient compute technologies will reduce power consumption and help service providers meet environmental impact standards set by governing bodies without losing key network functionalities. 

Red Hat and Arm are collaborating to deliver more energy efficient 5G and vRAN solutions fueled by Red Hat open source technologies and Arm compute platforms.

Reducing power consumption with open source innovation

As networks continue to virtualize, having a carrier-grade container management solution is crucial. At Red Hat, we are committed to open source innovation and are excited to collaborate with Arm to develop highly efficient 5G solutions. With our combined expertise, we are better positioned to deliver more sustainable network operations and reduced power consumption for our customers.

The central processing unit (CPU) is fundamental to any strategy in building efficient 5G networks. Reduced Instruction Set Compute architecture is broadly adopted in the infrastructure space spanning edge, networking and cloud because of ground up designs focused on compute efficiency. This offers service providers and organizations with private 5G networks the ability to integrate 5G more seamlessly into their operations. 

Red Hat and Arm are testing and developing proofs-of-concept for energy efficiency using Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Arm Neoverse CPUs. Arm Neoverse provides high-performing and energy efficient CPU architecture to run cloud-native applications faster for low-latency 5G networks. Red Hat OpenShift, built on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, propels cloud-native applications across any cloud environment to support 5G and RAN deployment scenarios. Red Hat and Arm are focused on the following use cases related to energy efficiency: 

  • Virtualized implementation for RAN workloads using Red Hat OpenShift for cloud-native, containerization capabilities. 
  • Utilizing Centralized Unit (CU) and Distributed Unit (DU) building blocks to support 5G and RAN deployments. 
  • Edge applications, such as network-in-a-box with connectivity components, and application processing. 

Extending capabilities through the partner ecosystem

As part of Red Hat and Arm’s collaboration, we bring together a combined ecosystem of systems integrators, service providers and software vendors. For example, NEC, a long-time partner of both Red Hat and Arm, is optimizing its RAN and 5G Core network solutions for greater energy efficiency.

Red Hat and Arm have a diverse and knowledgeable ecosystem of partners who bring their specialized expertise to extend the scope of network capabilities. This includes AI/ML-based orchestration, hardware optimization, and workload management - all with the shared goal of enabling more sustainable network operations and reduced power consumption. 

Visit Red Hat at MWC Barcelona 2023 (Hall 2, Booth 2F30) and find us in booths with Arm (Hall 2, Booth 2160) and NEC (Hall 2, Booth 2H40) to learn more about how we’re working together to drive energy efficiency for 5G networks. 

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About the authors

Reza Mokhtari joined Red Hat in January 2018 as a Global Telco Alliance Executive. In alliance with Red Hat partners, with focus on digital transformation, he has been responsible for driving 5G, Edge, and Hybrid Cloud business opportunities. 

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Panch Chandrasekaran leads segment strategy and Go-to-Market initiatives for Carrier Infrastructure at Arm. His charter is to expand Arm adoption in the 5G wireless infrastructure space working with operators, networking equipment providers, silicon and software providers. Panch over the years has worked on various technologies ranging from high speed signaling, FPGAs, memories and ML/data analytics. He has a MSEE in semiconductor physics from the University of Central Florida and an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley.

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