HPE and chip manufacturer Ampere are collaborating on an Arm server processor for use in Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) environments based on “inline acceleration” technology, according to DataCenter Knowledge.

The server processor that the tech giant and chip manufacturer are now jointly developing should give telecom operators more choices in what technology they take to virtualize their networks. Specifically, the collaboration focuses on developing an Arm-based processor. This should offer fewer cores than existing Ampere Arm processors, writes DataCenter Knowledge.

Instead of the now common for telecom networks “overkill” of 80-140 cores in Ampere processors, a 48-core, or at most a 64-core processor, would be most appropriate. This is because hardware accelerators can handle the network functionality with the most required computing power.

Inline acceleration

More specifically, “inline acceleration” technology allows baseband functionality, Layer 1, to be offloaded from the processor to accelerator cards in an HPE server. The Ampere processor is then freed up for the Layer 2 and 3 functions for less computationally demanding RAN functionality.

Hurdles down the road

Whether HPE and Ampere can break through with Arm-cores-based inline acceleration technology, however, remains to be seen. Several major telecom operators say they consider the purchase of additional accelerator cards unnecessary and too expensive.

They therefore prefer, according to DataCenter Knowledge, another technology: lookaside. This Intel-based technology lets the processor do more of the work. It offloads only certain selective tasks, such as forward error correction (FEC). This allows the chip to be used for both acceleration and processor capacity.

Moreover, inline acceleration currently lacks a comprehensive ecosystem.

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