Intel on Monday announced new chips and partnerships, hoping that the billions of dollars spent in 5G networking technology research and development will pay off.
Intel got into the wireless data business with its acquisition of German modem maker Infineon in 2011. Its sole major modem customer is Apple whose iPhones feature Intel modem chips to connect to mobile data networks. However, Intel's modem business is facing competition from Qualcomm Inc and MediaTek.
Bob Swan, Intel’s chief executive, said Intel’s future in 5G networks, which are expected to roll out this year and next and be much faster than current 4G networks, extends beyond selling modems to phone makers.
Intel plans to also sell modems to automakers for use in connected vehicles, as well as to manufacturers for use in connecting industrial equipment. And Intel also plans to land its other chips - including processors and the so-called programmable chips it gained by acquiring Altera Inc in 2016 - in a variety of networking gear, he said.
On Monday at the conference in Barcelona, Intel said it had reached a deal for network gear makers Fibocom Wireless, Arcadyan Technology and others to include Intel modem chips in modules and gateways that will help industrial equipment connect with 5G networks.
The company also introduced new programmable chips that will compete against Xilinx Inc, which in its most recent quarter saw a revenue boost from 5G deals.
Intel is launching the new Intel FPGA Programmable Acceleration Card N3000 (Intel FPGA PAC N3000) that is specifically designed for the acceleration of virtualized network functions ranging from 5G RAN to core network applications.
Intel FPGA PAC N3000 is a customizable platform enabling high throughput, lower latency and high-bandwidth applications. It allows for optimization of data plane performance to achieve lower costs while maintaining a high degree of flexibility. Support of end-to end industry standard and open source tools allows users to adapt to evolving workloads and standards.
Intel FPGA PAC N3000 for networking is designed to accelerate network traffic for up to 100 Gbps and supports up to 9GB DDR4 and 144MB QDR IV memory for high-performance applications. Programmability and flexibility of an FPGA allow for the creation of tailored solutions by utilizing reference IPs for networking function acceleration workloads such as vRAN, vBNG, vEPC, IPSec and VPP.
Rakuten and Affirmed Networks are currently sampling the Intel FPGA PAC N3000 for product delivery in 2019’s third quarter.
Intel is also aiming to sell versions of its flagship processors for use in 5G base stations, which help carry mobile phone signals back to core networks and said it reached deals with Ericsson and ZTE to use Intel processors in their 5G networking gear.
The company announced initial customer adoption for its 10nm base station system-on-chip (SoC), code-named Snow Ridge. First unveiled at CES 2019, Snow Ridge is Intel’s 10nm system-on-chip (SoC) technology for wireless base stations. Intel expects to be in production on Snow Ridge in the second half of this year.
Intel has built solutions for service providers as they transform their networks for 5G. With the upcoming launch of the next Intel Xeon Scalable platform family member, Cascade Lake, Intel says it will enable telecommunications service providers to seize new cloud and network opportunities and optimize their data center, core and edge environments to meet computing, artificial intelligence and storage demands.
Intel additionally provided a first look at its upcoming Intel Xeon D family product, code-named Hewitt Lake. Hewitt Lake is expected to deliver a power-efficient SoC configuration tailored for computing at the edge and for security and storage solutions that typically face both power and space constraints.
While Intel’s network and edge solutions create a cloud-based foundation that enables 5G, Intel’s 5G modem products also play a major role in moving forward 5G adoption.
Intel announced a collaboration with Skyworks to co-optimize the multimode 5G radio frequency (RF) solution for the Intel XMM 8160 5G modem.
The XMM 8160 platform will be scalable and targeted to all tiers and market verticals with support for 2G, 3G, CDMA, TDSCDMA, LTE, 5G and GNSS, spanning mobile, automotive, wearables, cellular infrastructure and IoT markets. The platform, including RF front end, will be available in 2019’s fourth quarter for product certification purposes at select customers, with broad availability targeted for the first quarter of 2020.
Additionally, Fibocom, a manufacturer of cellular M.2 modules, announced today that it will enhance its product portfolio and integrate the Intel XMM 8160 5G modem. Gateway manufacturing vendors D-Link, Arcadyan, Gemtek and VVDN announced they are adopting the Intel XMM 7560 gigabit LTE modem for their gateway solutions, with upgrade plans to move to the Intel XMM 8160 5G modem in early 2020.