Connecting Billions of People, Devices, and their Data: How Intel’s Network Platforms Group is Building the Foundation for Innovation, Growth & 5G

Many industries are still trying to get ahead of massive data growth—to not only manage its creation, distribution, and storage but also harness it for greater intelligence. Current data-centric use cases and the promise of 5G will demand higher bandwidth, lower latency, more flexibility, and greater reliability from the communication networks that connect billions of people, organizations, and devices around the world. This demand is leading Communication Service Providers (CommSPs) to reimagine the design, operation, and business models of their networks.

Intel is focused on enabling intelligent, flexible, cloud-ready networks through innovation, industry collaboration, and new iterations of Intel® architecture. This approach allows us to deliver the ideal combination of performance and flexibility with compute, I/O, memory, storage, composability, and analytics to provide an intelligent and ubiquitous network from cloud to client. We have leveraged our considerable cloud and compute know-how to support the cloud, communication service provider, and enterprise demands for world-class network silicon.

At the Intel Data-Centric Tech Summit, we are gathering investors, analysts, and media to show how Intel’s Data Center Group supports the evolution towards workload-optimized architectures, systems, and solutions. Let’s dig into the trends and frame the opportunities that are driving Intel’s investment and leadership in a network silicon market we estimate will be worth over $24 billion in 2022.

Cloud Architectures and Data Growth Sparked Network Transformation

Earlier this decade, the communications industry began its transformation with network functions virtualization (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN). The vision is to evolve communications networks from purpose-built, fixed-function appliances to flexible, scalable solutions built upon general-purpose servers and open standards, capable of running best in class network functions and applications in a multi-service, multi-vendor environment. At a high-level, this shift in design allows CommSPs to deploy cloud-based and data-centric services throughout the network to support traditional network functions and newer workloads, enhanced in the 5G era, such as immersive media, analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), and more.

For the CommSP industry, the application of flexible, scalable networks built with a cloud- architectural foundation is most effective with a common processing architecture. Utilizing Intel® architecture as this common architecture allows for the intelligent handling and convergence of four, key network workloads: Application, control, packet, and signal. For years, workload convergence has been a fundamental strategy for Intel and the basis from which our industry began transforming networks with NFV and SDN.

Edge Computing: 5G and Network Transformation Create New Opportunities

While most of our network transformation progress has focused on virtualizing mobile core infrastructure and network appliances, such as SD-WAN, one of the largest transformation opportunities lies in the network edge. The need to deploy network functions and other services as close as possible to consumers and enterprise customers means CommSPs are accelerating network transformation investments across the edge to support high bandwidth, ultra-low latency applications, such as video on-demand and 5G. Our open platforms, reference designs, and rich ecosystem have provided a jump start to edge computing.

There are hundreds of thousands of regional and branch central offices (COs) across almost every network around the world. CommSPs can re-architect strategic CO locations into high-availability, distributed data centers to support more end-user services, diverse workloads, and data-centric applications. These next-generation central offices (NGCOs) will support the convergence of fixed and mobile networks to deliver services at greater economies of scale as 5G deployments ramp.

CommSPs will also need to transform the radio access network (RAN) to support these demanding, data-centric services. Intel supports these requirements with a broad portfolio of processors, custom RAN configurations, accelerators, software, and a common toolchain to enable distributed or centralized RAN solutions. We recently announced successful cloud RAN trials and a reference design to help CommSPs quickly roll out edge services using commercial solutions and open source components. We have also deployed multi-access edge computing (MEC) technologies to demonstrate the incredible potential of edge innovation through exciting use cases, such as a Chinese smart stadium, a major U.S. golf tournament, and an industrial IoT deployment in Finland.

Intel® Silicon & Solution Portfolio and Ecosystem Accelerate Transformation from Core to Edge

CommSPs are now benefiting from an entire portfolio of CPUs built on a common Intel® architecture, including Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor, Intel® Xeon® D-2100 processor, Intel Atom® C3000 processor. We continue to build on this heritage to deliver flexible building blocks for the industry, including Intel® Solid State Drives, Intel® FPGAs, Intel® Ethernet Controller, Intel® 3D XPoint, Intel® QuickAssist, Intel® Quick Sync Video, Intel® Resource Director, and the new Intel® Silicon Photonics optical transceiver, which supports high-speed 100Gbps bandwidth over distances up to 10km from wireless tower to base station. This portfolio supports transformation across the data center, core network and edge.

We have also developed reference architectures and frameworks, including Data Plane Development Kit and others, to speed innovation and drive commercial deployments and technological breakthroughs. Last July, we announced the Intel® Select Solutions program to offer a choice of optimized solution configurations to help companies speed the evaluation and deployment of data center and communications network infrastructure. Our networking team launched Intel® Select Solution for NFVI and Intel® Select Solutions for uCPE to target strategic areas of innovation that will further accelerate network transformation for the industry, and a wave of companies have introduced pre-configured, verified NFVI and uCPE solutions that met or exceeded our performance and quality benchmarks. These programs underscore the importance of an engaged ecosystem committed to shared innovation.

For several years the Intel® Network Builders ecosystem has provided a platform for over 300 equipment manufacturers, software vendors, operating system vendors, system integrators, CommSPs, and various open industry initiatives to drive the next wave of solution innovation and bring the promise of a network transformed closer to reality.

Intelligent Infrastructure from Cloud to Client

Intel is in a unique position as we have multiple businesses that cross all 5G solution delivery components, and 5G will provide an unprecedented opportunity for those who embrace and define new models made possible through network transformation and virtualization.

We are well-positioned to be successful because of our heavy investment in network and cloud, an end-to-end 5G strategy, a world-class ecosystem, and a commitment to foster industries with the benefits of the Intel® architecture. The old adage is true, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Intel benefits when the industry benefits, and we look forward to playing a significant role together with our partners and customers in the evolution of the network and its many applications for decades to come.

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Check out all the news from the Intel Data Centric Innovation Summit here.

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Dan Rodriguez

About Dan Rodriguez

Daniel C. Rodriguez is vice president in the Network Platforms Group and general manager of the group’s communications infrastructure division at Intel Corporation. He leads strategy for the division’s various market segments and manages Intel’s business in those segments, which include wireless core, cable infrastructure, routers and switches, and network security. Rodriguez and his organization are key contributors to Intel’s network transformation strategy, which focuses on workload convergence on Intel architecture and developing platforms to support network functions virtualization. Before assuming his current role in 2015, he spent four years as wireless infrastructure marketing director expanding that aspect of Intel’s networking business. Rodriguez has also played an influential role in several of Intel’s flagship networking products and technologies, including Intel® QuickAssist Technology and the Intel® Data Plane Development Kit. Rodriguez holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Arizona State University and earned his MBA degree from the University of Southern California.