Marvell chips will power Facebook’s 5G network project

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Facebook’s goal is to make the deployment of 5G networks more accessible to everyone.

Marvell Technology Group told Reuters this week that its chips will be included in a project from Facebook. The project, Marvel says, aims to make it easier and cheaper to deploy 5G networking equipment.

In the past, telecommunications gear tended to come from a handful of major players such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei. These huge telecom giants supplied the software to run the networks as well as the equipment for radio towers. They also provided the custom chips inside that equipment.

Facebook’s goal: lower the costs of network deployment

Facebook is a social networking giant that also focuses on improving internet infrastructure. They are big supporters of so-called open radio-access networks. These are networks using software and hardware designs that are often interchangeable and free to use. The goal, according to Facebook, is to lower costs and make these types of network deployments easier.

Facebook has focused on developing software for the open networks while partnering with hardware companies to come up with designs for hardware. Marvell on Monday said it had partnered with Facebook on a circuit board design for what is known as a “distributed unit,” or DU. This is a piece of gear that sits near the bottom of a cell tower and crunches data coming in through the tower’s radio units.

The design will be free for anyone to use

The design will be free for telecommunications firms to use. But those DUs will also contain multiple Marvell processors. The move aims to make it easier for telecommunications firms to get networks up and running. This is because the design work is complete. A big by-product of this initiative is that it will also help Marvell sell more chips.

“What we are designing for Facebook is a system that anyone, in the fullness of time, can deploy,” Raj Singh, executive vice president of the processors business group at Marvell, said in an interview.