Cellular networks require more capacity and intelligence to support the metaverse and enhanced reality applications for both consumers and businesses. Massive MIMO (mMIMO) can deliver more capacity and thanks to beamforming capabilities, concentrate bandwidth to devices, providing the capability to deliver metaverse experiences from a single 5G radio. However, there are currently no mMIMO whitebox solutions available with extensive end-to-end capabilities to satiate this demand.
In response, Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is collaborating with Intel and Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) to enable the metaverse with O-RAN mMIMO solutions, as part of the TIP OpenRAN project group. The collaboration will result in a 5G mMIMO Open RAN Radio Unit (O-RU) whitebox, to be distributed by Intel and able to support O-RAN’s workgroup 4 IoT profile. The whitebox will be powered by Intel® Agilex™ and will leverage Intel’s advanced beamforming technology and Analog Devices’ RadioVerse® System on Chip (SoC) software defined transceiver.
Using its programmable, widely adopted silicon and advanced beamforming technology, the compact whitebox will be equipped with a ready-to-deploy mMIMO wideband implementation. The mMIMO O-RU was conceived as a 32-antenna element wideband standalone radio unit supporting O-RAN interfaces and advanced software applications.
MNOs, OEMs and ODMs can use the O-RU Whitebox to leverage the O-RAN ecosystem, extensive IP library and processing power of Agilex to develop bespoke O-RUs, benefiting from reduced time-to-market and CAPEX. The mMIMO O-RU Whitebox opens the door to a wider playing field of system integrators, giving operators more options to meet their specific requirements while helping mitigate vendor lock-in.
Kristian Toivo at TIP commented on the partnership, “TIP supports the OpenRAN group initiative to define and build radio solutions based on general-purpose vendor-neutral hardware, open interfaces and software. Together with the O-RU Whitebox, software capabilities, extensive IP portfolio, and strategic partnerships, Intel is taking a leading role in its commitment to Open RAN.”
Vice president and general manager Mike Fitton at Intel said, “By using Intel’s Agilex-based Whitebox as a reference solution, customers can customize their product to meet their unique needs, accelerating TTM and significantly reducing RnD efforts. For regional ODMs that are trying to deploy 5G equipment in a country where the government mandates ‘Made in Region’ 5G equipment, Intel’s Whitebox model greatly helps the ODM to own the design and IP. For operators, they can connect more devices from a single radio, enabling an efficient deployment of base stations and fiber.”
OpenRAN Platform Manager Andrew Dunkin at Vodafone added, “We are firmly behind the work of TIP and its ambitions to open up the ecosystem. Projects such as this will bring open mMIMO capabilities to operators and mean the exciting potential of the metaverse is closer to being realised.”
Joe Barry, vice president of the wireless communications business unit at Analog Devices commented, “ADI’s RadioVerse® SoC with advanced digital functionality helps reduce overall system power consumption while improving performance. This effort continues our work in supporting development of advanced O-RU for the expanding Open RAN ecosystem.”
The mMIMO O-RU Whitebox will be exhibited at MWC2023 Barcelona in February.