Multi-access edge computing (MEC) brings more processing power to the network edge while at the same time implementing edge computing in wireless networks. But why do we need that much processing power, network bandwidth and low latency, customization and upgradability at the edge of our networks? And how can service providers and network operators benefit from giving these features to end users who are used to paying less and less for wireless communication?
Small cell networks like local hotspots—for example, in airports, train stations, shopping malls or hotels—are providing free Wi-Fi to their customers and guests, who are getting more and more used to fast internet access with low response times. Video chats, Augmented Reality (AR) apps or games and in the future even mobile Virtual Reality (VR) can benefit a lot from providing on-edge optimization and possibly even require high performance on the edge of the cloud and closer to the customer.
A hotspot supported by MEC during a sport or music event can provide caching of often-used content or videos for faster delivery and even saves data traffic to the core network. Powerful edge computing is able to analyze user traffic in real-time and could deliver user-specific advertising to generate some return on investment for the provider.
Cloud-gaming is gaining popularity and requires both high processing power and low latency server-side because the games are basically running on the server while the user only has the video of his game. That user still needs fast response time and won’t be satisfied with slow game reactions. A MEC device could provide specific games for the local community—supported by publishers and/or providers—but needs to be able to handle multiple virtual machines.
Other scenarios for MEC are hospitals, smart cities and Industry 4.0 sites like intelligent factories based on many different IoT devices and robots that require real-time processing while still needing to be connected to the cloud or the headquarter.
All these requirements will increase with the introduction of 5G networking as users and enterprises will be getting more accustomed to even faster internet speeds.
A rackmount appliance like the CASwell CAR-3080, a verified Intel® Select Solution for uCPE, was developed for multi-access edge computing with its multiple network connections while also offering high-speed Ethernet – a common requirement nowadays and even more in the future. The CASwell CAR-3080 brings the powerful performance of Intel® Xeon® D processors to the network edge as part of a workload-optimized hardware and software stack that offers verified performance. The platform includes PCI Express 3.0 (PCIe 3.0) for easy upgrading and Intel® QuickAssist Technology (Intel® QAT) to accelerate encrypted data traffic, reduce overall data size and lower storage demands. All of this in a compact 1U device that easily fits into any rackmount cabinet.
The CASwell CAR-3080 verified as an Intel Select Solution for uCPE is based on the Intel Xeon processor D-2166NT with 12 CPU cores, 32 GByte main memory, 480 GByte SSD and 2x 10-Gbit Intel® Ethernet Controller X722. This configuration can be upgraded to Intel Xeon processor D-2183IT or Intel Xeon processor D-2173IT with 14 or 16 CPU cores and up to 128 GByte DDR4-2400 main memory.
A processor like the Intel Xeon processor D-2166NT comes with integrated Intel QuickAssist Technology (Intel QAT). Intel QAT accelerates encrypted data traffic in a secure network, reduces overall data size and lowers storage demands by speeding real-time compression while at the same time relieving the CPU of some of the processing workloads. An optional Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for encryption, authentication and digital rights management is also available for the CAR-3080, and the whole system can be monitored by the Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI 2.0).
The CASwell CAR-3080 rackmount appliance can be equipped with ultra-fast networking connections of up to 40 Gbit/s and also offers almost infinite Ethernet configurations with a maximum of 40 ports in this flat, low-rise 1U design. This setup is made possible by the unique design and combination of CASwell’s Network Interface Plug-ins (NIP) modules and Network Interface Cards (NIC) with Intel® Ethernet Controller X722, all connected via high-speed PCIe 3.0.
The CASwell CAR-3080 by default comes with six Gigabit-Ethernet ports and two SFP+ ports for 10-Gbit-Ethernet but can be enhanced almost endlessly with a standard NIC connected by PCIe x16 (can accommodate GPU or FPGA acceleration cards) and three patented NIPs that use PCIe x4/x8 for data transmission and packet acceleration. Each NIP and the NIC can offer up to eight Gigabit-Ethernet ports of their own but are also available in different configurations with 10-GbE, 25-GbE or even 40-GbE ports. Optional bypass switches ensure that the network keeps running even during maintenance or in case of power outages. PoE options are also available when Power over Ethernet is needed besides delivering data — seemingly infinite possibilities of networking configurations!
While the CAR-3080 as a verified Intel® Select Solution for uCPE is a powerful solution on its own, there are some scenarios where an appliance with more network connections or more processing performance is needed. In those cases CASwell offers the CAR-4040 with up to 34 Ethernet ports overall or the CAR-5050 and the CAR-6010 rackmount servers with dual Intel Xeon configurations.
The CAR-5050 uses the same Intel Xeon scalable processors but two instead of one and due to its bigger 2U form factor can hold up to six CASwell proprietary network adapters (NIP) with up to eight Ethernet connectors each connected to the system via PCI Express 3.0 x16 for 48 10-GbE ports. Furthermore, the CAR-5050 supports a maximum of 16 quad-channel DDR4-2133/2400 memory modules for up to 512 GByte system RAM.
The CAR-6010 as a 1U device is practically a flat version of the CAR-5050 and is likewise based on the same performance-enhanced dual Intel Xeon platform but with its eight DIMM slots supports a maximum of 256 GByte main memory. It can be equipped with up to four NIPs for 32 Gigabit-Ethernet ports.
With high-end rackmount devices like the CASwell CAR-3080, CAR-5050 and CAR-6060 almost every network operator, solution or service provider and enterprise of every industry sector can find its ideal system for multi-access edge computing to not just offer high performance to customers and end users but also to find a way to refinance their investments through different use cases and attractive offers to its customer base.