The move to all-IP carrier-grade transport

Robin Kent/Adax
28 Apr 2009
00:00

Wireless infrastructure is in the process of expanding to IP-based LTE with new technologies being introduced to support higher bandwidth data traffic along with existing signalling traffic. explains the challenges.

The growing popularity of IP telecommunications networks has brought about the need to build new IP-based solutions that interoperate with existing infrastructure. New requirements encompass connecting IP-based or IP-enabled media gateways, multi-media servers, signalling transfer points, switches, databases and other next generation signalling applications with legacy circuit switched signalling architecture. This need to interconnect different network demands multi-protocol solutions that combine and connect divergent circuit and packet switching architectures. In addition, there are new possibilities for replacing expensive dedicated SS7 circuits with the more cost-effective IP networks.

This throws up one of the major challenges in the transition to a new "e" radio access networks (eRAN): the provisioning of flexible, efficient transport interfaces between new equipment and the existing infrastructure.

The critical issue in eRAN evolution is how to manage, terminate and switch voice and data over a common transport network. As core technology moves from ATM to IP, network designers must also provide the services critical for high-speed packet processing such as monitoring, inspection, prioritisation, insertion, encryption, decryption and security.

However, these challenges can be overcome by delivering highly configurable network processor cards that implement the lower layer transport protocols in 2.5G/3G/eRAN. These products can then be used to deliver the lub, lur lu and LTE transport interfaces meeting the sometimes conflicting requirements of cost, flexibility, performance, scalability and time-to-market.

One such solution would be an intelligent ATCA carrier blade for I/O intensive telecom applications. These blades would have four AMC slots to take any combination of AMC cards and specialized network processor units (NPUs), such as the Cavium Octeon processors, memory and cache on the carrier to provide a high performance, highly flexible, scalable and cost effective ATCA blade for signalling and other applications.

The boards follow the ATCA PICMG specifications for power conversion, Gigabit Ethernet switching and PCIe switching, which provides the on-board infrastructure for the CPU and AMC sites to communicate with each other as well as the ATCA chassis fabric.

The ATCA carrier cards provide CPU application blades with access to I/O resources on the ATCA blade. For example, it is possible to provide a library that is linked to the user\'s application(s) to interface with the ATCA carrier card. This library should provide the application with standard API to access and utilize the I/O resources on the carrier card regardless of where they are on the ATCA chassis. Ultimately, with ATCA carrier cards I/O is scalable. Additional I/O connections and capacity are achieved by populating another ATCA carrier card in the ATCA chassis.

With overall benefits available from this solution such as ease of migration, I/O density and data/control-plane, sub-system ATCA carrier cards are fast being seen as a way to provide the services critical for high-speed packet processing.

Overall, the flexible architecture of these kinds of products fulfils ATCA\'s promise of horizontal expansion. In a redundantly designed system, cards and blades may be added, removed and re-located with virtually no loss of service. Carriers will be able to retain the value of their initial investment well into the future with this architecture in place.

Robin Kent is director of operations at Adax

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