SAN JOSE, Calif. – To keep up with mobile and video traffic, wireless carriers will need a new class of high-end systems by 2015, according to a Huawei executive who sketched out a concept he is proposing to other vendors and industry groups.
The next-generation system will need to carry data rates of 200 to 400 Gbits/second. To do that, it should include boards that can handle 500 to 1,000 Watts. They could be as much as twice the size of today's boards based on the Advanced TCA standard and probably will need liquid cooling.
"We could see 50x growth in network traffic over five years driven by mobile video--that definitely calls for new high-end servers," said Staffan Skogby, a senior Huawei product manager, speaking in a keynote at the Advanced TCA Summit here.
Skogby said he presented his concept at a May workshop of the Scope Alliance, a group of telecom system makers. A handful of other vendors liked the concept, including Emerson Network Power, he said.
Huawei is in the early stages of formally proposing the concept to the alliance. If the proposal is approved, it would likely go to an industry standards group such as the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) that supervises the Advanced TCA (ATCA) standards for boards and chassis used by network carriers and others.
Skogby said he has talked informally about the concept with the Scope board on which he serves as well as with PICMG members. "I would like to create some impact in the industry to go forward with a standard specification in this direction," said Skogby.
Carriers have a variety of seemingly conflicting requirements for different parts of their networks. For example, many carriers are rolling out 4G wireless networks using many micro base stations rather than the few, full-sized base stations they used for 3G nets. In other parts of their networks, carriers are asking systems companies to converge multiple functions into a single ATCA chassis to save cost.
"We have adopted ATCA for server apps where we see a good fit, and will continue to go that way, adding more applications to the platform," Skogby said. "At the same time, we see the new challenge from number of mobile devices on the Net and new services driven by mobile access and video, and to meet those challenges we have concluded we need this new platform for the media and user plane," he said.
The high-end server concept could be a high-end addition to today's ATCA chassis standards which need to continue to evolve in parallel, said Skogby. At Huawei "we've had research on this for several years, part of it we are implementing, parts are already in commercial use and other parts are still evolving," he added.
Huawei has been a significant supporter of ATCA. It has designed 70 products based on the ATCA standard and has sold 3,500 systems based on it to date.
The company has been taking an increasingly pro-active role in standards groups. For example, it recently joined the Linux Foundation and agreed to chair a key cloud computing standards effort at the IEEE. Skogby is a former Ericsson executive who remains based in Stockholm, now the location of Huawei's largest European R&D group.