Rakuten Mobile, NEC Corporation, and Intel Corporation have achieved a 640 Gbps connection per server for a containerized User Plane Function (UPF) on a containerized 5G SA core network jointly developed by Rakuten Mobile and NEC running on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).
Containerized UPF performance is crucial to maximizing the value of 5G deployment. This is because the control plane (C-plane) and user plane (U-plane), which were historically collocated, are completely decoupled in the disaggregated 5G architecture. This enables an independently scalable UPF that is key to private networks, edge computing, hybrid cloud, and accelerating a variety of deployment scenarios. Rakuten Mobile has adopted a 5G architecture from the launch of its network, including a CUPS (Control and User Plane Separated) packet core for its 4G LTE network.
The 640 Gbps performance per server for the containerized UPF on the 5G SA core network was achieved in a laboratory environment in Tokyo. This represents a significant opportunity to drive the high performance of the commercial network in the future.
NEC leveraged its industry-leading product development based on its advanced telecom and IT expertise to maximize CPU utilization and fast memory access. This is fueled by the utilization of Intel’s latest high-performance infrastructure, including 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors with built-in AI acceleration and Dual-port 100Gb Intel Ethernet Network Adapter E810-2CQDA2 with Dynamic Device Personalization (DDP). Rakuten Mobile, Intel and NEC have collaborated on high-speed processing of containerized UPF, which plays a significant role in this initiative, and achieved a performance of 640 Gbps per server. High-speed processing in a containerized environment on Rakuten Mobile’s RCP enables instant and flexible deployment of UPF from edge to central locations based on traffic characteristics, leveraging RCP’s full automation features.
Tareq Amin, Representative Director, Executive Vice President and CTO of Rakuten Mobile stated that Rakuten Mobile has successfully designed and built a fully containerized mobile network based on open standards. With NEC and Intel, they have demonstrated that extremely high-speed processing is possible on containers. They aim to continue to pursue performance improvements in the core to achieve higher throughput and reduce cost and energy consumption in network technology rollout in Japan and worldwide.
NEC Executive Vice President Atsuo Kawamura commented that they are proud that Rakuten Mobile, Intel and NEC were able to demonstrate industry-leading UPF performance. NEC has been developing high-performance and highly reliable 5G systems by leveraging their vast experience that includes more than 25 years in mobile core networking. Their strong track record, technical capabilities and expertise in both network and computing domains, allowed them to bring high-quality 5G core to virtualization and cloud-native technology. NEC and Intel have a long-term relationship in the hardware business, including CPUs and NICs (Network Interface Cards), and have jointly enhanced the acceleration technology for virtualization, represented by the DPDK (Data Plane Development Kit). NEC performed significant optimization and improvements to pursue higher performance for the cloud-native UPF. He further said that in the future, they will continue to contribute to society through 5G in Japan and around the world leveraging the results of this project.
Dan Rodriguez, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel’s Network Platforms Group said that the fully virtualized Rakuten mobile network featuring NEC’s containerized 5G UPF software built on the latest Intel technology is another key proof point of how ecosystem collaboration and industry-leading technology are both essential to fulfil the promise of 5G. The ongoing development and optimization work among the companies on the latest 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors and Intel Ethernet 800 Series network adapters provide outstanding performance and the added flexibility to run workloads from core to edge are designed to offer the best experience for end-users.
Rakuten Mobile and NEC started jointly developing an open, fully containerized SA 5G core network in June 2020 to be utilized in Rakuten Mobile’s mobile network in Japan and made available on RCP. In the RAN domain, NEC is also providing 5G radio units (5G RU) for Rakuten Mobile’s network in Japan, and recently, Rakuten Mobile and NEC announced the broadening of their collaboration to provide 5G and 4G radios and engineering services for Open RAN systems aligned with O-RAN specifications for global markets, and accelerate the global expansion of the RCP.
Through the joint development of the Open and fully cloud-native containerized SA 5G core network, Rakuten Mobile and NEC aim to drive innovation in global mobile technology and provide high-quality 5G network technology to customers in Japan and around the world.