C-RAN: Turning base station kit into software

Intel demonstrated a prototype server for cutting the hardware cost of cellular base stations by swapping proprietary equipment for standard servers.

The Cloud Radio Access Networks (C-RAN) initiative lets Intel move “the heart of the radio access network to the cloud”, Rattner said.

C-RAN is being co-developed with China Mobile. Intel demonstrated two SuperMicro servers running multiple base station software elements.

In the future, Intel and China Mobile hope to use undisclosed virtualisation methods to support up to 100 base stations in a single server.

However, when asked by a journalist from Computer Weekly whether Intel had been in talks with European telecommunications hardware suppliers about the technology, Rattner indicated it had had a frosty reception.

“Since you’re turning radio access networks from what was largely a hardware business into what will be a software business, you can understand why they’re relatively cool about it,” Rattner said. “System suppliers have been relatively cool.”


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