Smarter Networks: Doing More with Less
The biggest driver in the communications and networking markets is the insatiable need for bandwidth as broadband traffic explodes well beyond the capabilities of networks to support that traffic
However, the need is definitely not for bandwidth at any cost. It’s really a need for more bandwidth at minimum CAPEX and OpEx. The only way to reduce the costs associated with additional bandwidth is to create Smarter Networks that have:
- The ability to extract more capacity from the same spectrum or optical fiber while meeting QoS requirements to maintain a good user experience or to improve it.
- The ability to forge HetNets (heterogeneous wireless networks), expansive wired networks, and data centers into seamless bandwidth delivery systems that deliver good coverage at the lowest TCO while simplifying operators’ network-management duties to lower network OpEx.
- The ability to efficiently and quickly adapt to changes in network traffic demands, configuration, network utilization, and market requirements and by allowing operators to economically provision new services and charge appropriately for value, all while delivering the best user experience so that subscribers feel good about paying for more and better services, which helps increase overall ARPU.
Profitability Scaling Challenge
All of these capabilities require multiple forms of programmability. For example, cellular service providers must constantly upgrade their base stations to support the latest radio algorithms - and providers prefer to avoid the expense of rolling a truck to accommodate these changes. Data center managers need ways to quickly adapt to new applications and usage patterns without having to send a person walking down an aisle to change patch cords or install new network appliances. They also need to periodically upgrade their server and network capacity without increasing footprint, power consumption, or heat load.
Three Critical Aspects of a Smarter Network
A Smarter Network…
- Adjusts itself to traffic, demand, QoS, and its own health.
- The network is content- and context-aware.
- Allows Communications Service Providers and Carriers to maximize consistent and predictable service delivery at the lowest per-bit cost.
- The network is bandwidth and cost efficient. It is compact and power-efficient to minimize floor space and heat load in the data center.
- Self manages or can be remotely managed with respect to multiple operating parameters including demand, performance, health, availability, and power consumption.
- The elements of the network are intelligent, scalable, adaptable, and reusable.
Smart decision-making for networks seeks answers to questions such as:
- Is this a high throughput, low latency application?
- Is the data mission critical for some medical service?
- Is it somebody who wants to watch a YouTube video?
Smarter Networks integrate intelligence and analytics across the network domain to answer these types of questions. With answers to these questions, the network can configure itself to operate efficiently, at maximum utilization, and at minimum cost.
Predictive analytics can optimize the entire range of wired and wireless networks including cellular sites and data centers, which is increasingly difficult in a world where carrier networks must handle high-definition video, multichannel audio, voice, and simple sensor traffic through the same pipes. Better optimizations become possible as carriers transition to self-optimizing or software-defined networks (SONs and SDNs) which Xilinx All Programmable and Smarter Solutions are well suited to support.
Addressing the Growing Gaps with ASICS and ASSPS
At the same time, ASICs and ASSPs targeting the Communications, Networking, and Data Center equipment markets have been disappearing at a surprisingly rapid pace due to many factors including escalating IC-design costs and the need for much greater levels of intelligence and adaptability—all driven by wide variance in application and device requirements. Additionally, the equipment markets no longer accept “me too” equipment design, which means that ASSP-based equipment design has almost vanished due to limited flexibility. These growing gaps are pervasive across all markets.
In-house ASIC design teams and merchant ASSP vendors are:
- Severely challenged to meet the combined requirements for intelligence, flexibility, and adaptability in next-generation systems
- Struggling with fragmented and rapidly changing networking and data-center standards and application demands
- Incapable of enabling customers to effectively add differentiation through their own "secret sauce"
These challenges, coupled with the rapidly increasing design costs and lengthy design cycles for both ASICs and ASSPs have created significant solution gaps for equipment design teams. ASSPs and ASICs are either too late to market to meet OEM or operator requirements, are significantly overdesigned to satisfy the superset requirements of many diverse customers, are not a good fit for specific target applications, and/or provide limited ability for customers to differentiate their end products. Equipment vendors face many or all of these gaps when attempting to use the solutions offered by ASIC and ASSP vendors.
SmartCORE IP Across the Communications Infrastructure
Through internally developed technology and strategic company acquisitions, Xilinx has focused on helping its customers develop and deliver Smarter Network and Data Center equipment through a combination of All Programmable, Generation Ahead silicon (FPGAs, 3D ICs, and All Programmable SoCs); unique and proven domain-specific IP; and domain-specific specialists. These domain-specific specialists have expertise with a wide range of technologies including packet processing and traffic management; mobile, microwave, and e-band backhaul; OTN; and a broad portfolio of communications-based connectivity standards. The potent combination of these three elements allows for the development and deployment of equipment that meets the needs of tomorrow’s next-generation Smarter Networks and Data Centers.
Xilinx’s Smarter Solutions for Networks and Data Centers addresses three market segments:
- Smarter Wireless HetNets
- Smarter Wired Networks including Edge and Carrier Ethernet
- Smarter Data Centers
For more information on each of these three segments, click on the appropriate link.