Huawei’s David Wang details roadmap for comprehensively moving towards 5.5G era
Huawei, in pursuit of the concept of “comprehensively moving towards the 5.5G era,” has proposed the industry’s innovation roadmap for the next five to ten years.
Addressing a keynote at the Win-Win Huawei Innovation Week, David Wang, Executive Director of the Board and Chairman of the ICT Infrastructure Managing Board of Huawei, said, “Looking ahead to 2025, the sheer diversity and magnitude of network service requirements will create huge new market potential.”
Huawei proposed 5.5G – next evolution of 5G networks – for the first time at the 11th Global Mobile Broadband Forum in 2020, and F5.5G (or fixed 5.5G) at the Global Analyst Summit this April. Since then, there have been several discussions around technology and innovative practices around 5.5G.
Wang said the era of 5.5G will be characterized by 10 Gbit/s experience, 10x effective computing power, and 10x storage performance. It will bring businesses beyond the boundaries of connectivity. The 5.5G evolution will also be marked by the developments around autonomous driving networks (ADNs) and green networks.
From telepresence 10 years ago, today, global companies are using innovative Meta Summit to communicate with each other, greatly improving immersive experience. In the future, the virtual world will be deeply integrated with the real world, and more participants will collaborate at the same time. This will create the demand for stable network connections higher 10 Gbit/s, Wang said.
Huawei estimates that by 2025, 5.5G, F5.5G, and Net5.5G will support 10 Gbit/s access in all scenarios. In the context of mobile communications, the 10 Gbit/s experience can be achieved through wider spectrum, higher spectral efficiency, and higher-order MIMO technologies.
In the fixed network field, next-generation technologies such as FTTR, Wi-Fi 7, 50G PON, and 800G will help achieve 10 Gbit/s ubiquity through “ubiquitous optical connection and optical transmission without sites,” Wang said.
The super optical module with double optical power density can fully support 50 Gbit/s access at 20 km. The PON protocol is redefined to help carriers provide high-quality private line services by using the PON technology.
The next step in optical transmission network will be 800G and end-to-end photoelectric exchange. With Huawei’s 800G solution, the backbone network is switched from single plane to 3D-Mesh to eliminate network congestion and the granularity ranges from 1 Gbit/s to 2 Mbit/s.
In 5.5G era, autonomous networks powered by AI will bring new capabilities across industries. Industries across the world will be integrating AI into their production process. It is projected that by 2025, the AI adoption rate of enterprise production processes will exceed 75 percent.
The breakthroughs in 5.5G IoT technologies, represented by Big Uplink, Redcap, NB-NR, and Passive IoT, will help the 5G IoT market grow rapidly and exceed US$40 billion by 2026, according to Wang.
At the same time, more and more robots will participate in the production process, and the collaboration of man-machine complex scenarios will put higher requirements on the next generation industrial field network.
On computing front, the 5.5G era will create greater demand for computing power, but the bottlenecks associated with computing power supply needs to be addressed.
Huawei estimates that by 2030, the general computing power will increase by 10 times and the AI computing power will increase by 500 times. This will be achieved through advancements in full peer-to-peer interconnection architectures.
However, the bottlenecks associated with computing power supply restrict further release of computing power demand, Wang said. To address this, the architecture, software, and system levels need to undergo further innovation.
On the storage front, data-centric storage will break through existing limits in storage architecture. It is estimated that future storage will improve storage performance by 10-fold through data-centric hardware and software architecture and diversified data application acceleration engines.
With full-stack AI native, L4 highly autonomous driving networks (ADNs) will become a reality in 5.5G. Full-stack AI native, from network elements to networks and services, will accelerate breakthroughs in ADN technology. The results of new innovation, such as compression algorithms for hundreds of network indicators and unknown fault identification by AI foundation models, will be widely applied in the 5.5G era, Wang stated.
In telecom industry, for example, full-stack AI empowers carriers and promotes the transformation of key services and networks to L4 autonomous driving network in 2025.
The 5.5G era will also be marked by the innovations around green technology and system-level innovations to enhance energy efficiency. The ITU-T has adopted Network Carbon data/energy intensity (NCIe) as the unified energy efficiency metric to guide the industry’s green development roadmap. Huawei’s innovative solutions for green sites, green networks, and green operations are designed to increase network capacity and cut energy consumption per bit, Wang said.
Considering these developments around 5.5G, Wang proposed three recommendations for the industry stakeholders.
- The industry needs to work closely together to define the vision and roadmap for 5.5G.
- The industry should define technology standards within the standards frameworks set by 3GPP, ETSI, and ITU.
- All industry players should work together to promote a thriving industry ecosystem by incubating more use cases and accelerating digital, intelligent transformation.
Why 400G and why now?
GUEST OPINION: Exploring how 400G capacity per wavelength, together with next-generation transponder/muxponder-based pluggable optics, satisfies today’s extreme bandwidth demands.
Driven by increasing global data demands, migration to 400G has become the latest milestone in optical fibre networking.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic was growing at an exponential rate, propelled by increased device usage and the soaring bandwidth requirements of on-demand content, cloud applications, and more. This trend has only been amplified by the massive lifestyle changes that have taken place worldwide due to COVID-related lockdowns, as every home has been transformed almost overnight into an office, classroom, and entertainment complex. Even when the COVID crisis abates, there is no indication that data demands will revert to lower levels.
Networks, therefore, require technology that can support these fast-paced changes, both today and in the future. The 400G transition represents not only larger capacity but also a shift in infrastructure requirements that will define network connectivity for generations to come. Needless to say, dependable data capacity is a must for any business seeking to maintain its competitive standing.
This article addresses the challenges and opportunities awaiting the telecom industry as it faces these massive traffic increases and learns to flourish within the 400G era.
400G capacity over a single wavelength technology is suitable for new and expanding network infrastructures, enabling fibre optic networks to handle the ever-heavier burden of increasing data volumes. The 400G standard doubles today’s 200G capacity and is designed to address current and future bandwidth needs, reducing the cost per transported bit.
What is 400G?
Going forward, overall data consumption is estimated to rise by more than 50% per year, with massively increasing remote working/learning and streaming entertainment (with the COVID-19 pandemic expanding these estimates still further). In hyperscale data centres, data capacity needs are doubling every year. Given the surging popularity and data requirements in almost every area of business and home life, including IoT technology and 5G network infrastructure, these estimates will only be surpassed. In this global environment, 400G is set to thrive, increasing spectral efficiency for data centres and network carriers, and enabling them to support diverse data-intensive applications.
High Capacity 400G Transport over 650 Km, Scalable to 1.6T
What were the initial challenges of 400G?As with most technological advances, major and minor, the early days of 400G migration posed challenges related to higher costs, lack of standardization, increased power/cooling demands, a requirement for more rack space, and less flexibility. Although some large businesses opted to jump on the train of early adopters, most of the market waited for standardised, pluggable technology to be introduced.
Over the past year or so, the challenges associated with upgrading to 400G have been resolved through the introduction of a new generation of 400G pluggable optical modules such as CFP2-DCO and QSFP-DD. Pluggable optics have made it possible for organizations of all sizes to easily make the leap to 400G, by offering them the flexibility to evaluate business needs and plan accordingly.
The use of pluggable modules introduces simplicity and reliability to the challenge of increasing capacity, while also reducing maintenance/support needs and power consumption. Traditional non-MSA 400G modules were the basis for many of the initial challenges associated with 400G migration. They exhibited high power consumption and low performance, while not lending themselves to flexibility and interoperability.
How have pluggable modules helped make the leap to 400G possible?
Pluggable modules easily increase capacity, significantly reduce power consumption, simplify maintenance and support, and enable real pay-as-you-grow architecture with convenient plug-and-play functionality through front panel access. The standards-based pluggable modules also deliver enhanced performance and flexibility, while eliminating lingering compatibility and lock-in issues.
These factors can be seen in the latest CFP2 and QSFP-DD 400G modules, which have transformed the industry (see table below), with <24W power consumption (versus >65W), OFEC/CFEC interoperability (versus a proprietary standard), pluggability via the front panel, and multiple MSA sources.
With the dawn of these pluggable modules, vendors have introduced a new generation of 400G transponders and muxponders that allow large and small enterprises to take advantage of these optics to reduce the build or expansion cost of their optical transport network.
These modular, interoperable devices maximise the value of existing infrastructure and connectivity. Enabling cost-effective rollout and expansion, they allow easy, instantaneous maintenance or replacement of individual parts. If one module develops a fault or has to be upgraded, it can simply be pulled out of the slot and replaced, without replacing the entire box or taking it offline. This not only is important in terms of usability, but also has a huge impact on overall performance, avoiding downtime and complications for users, and ultimately on cost.
What are the primary considerations and capabilities involved with 400G migration?When undertaking any expansion of fibre optic network capacity, there are certain considerations that must be addressed. Foremost among them is the need to save costs, which is reflected in real estate usage, power consumption, and migration speed. However, it is the issue of flexibility that has become paramount for data centres, service providers, and other clients seeking improved adaptability and ease of use.
This is especially so in 400G, as there is a demand for a much smaller footprint and significant reductions in power requirements throughout all-optical network infrastructure that must be able to support 400G capacity.
Currently, vendors offer products designed to fulfil these demands, including OTN transponders, muxponders, and other infrastructure requirements (Erbium-doped fibre amplifiers, Raman amplifiers, fibre diagnostics, WSS ROADM, passive solutions, etc.), with an impressively thorough list of features. These 400G products support a flexible variety of the latest 400G line optics, such as high-performance CFP2-DCO – OpenROADM, QSFP-OpenZR+ and QSFP-ZR, and different standard FEC modes such as C-FEC as defined by the OIF, O-FEC as defined in the OpenROADM standard, and SD-FEC for high performance demanding links. The CFP2 pluggable module used in these devices also provides ultra-long-haul connectivity for 200G wavelengths.
Full performance monitoring and visibility of the optical transport layer (OTN), as well as Ethernet, Fibre Channel and OTN service interfaces, are enabled through OTN muxponders and transponders. These support 10/25/100/400Gb Ethernet, 16/32G Fibre Channel, and OTU2/OTU4 services and rates over a single 400G wavelength.
Few selected vendors have been able to deliver 400G solutions in a 1U format factor, responding to those real estate usage concerns as well as consuming far less power. In this format, muxponder and transponder operation modes are expandable to 64 channels across a robust, scalable, redundant, and low latency solution. This modular, cost-effective solution delivers better performance in less space with a lower cost per bit, optimizing the link budget and supporting standard forward error correction (FEC) modes for interoperability. It can support up to four 400G DCO pluggable uplink optical modules, delivering up to 1.6T in a 1U chassis, with integrated 4:1 mux/demux, 1 or 2 EDFA modules and OSW, and access to the entire optical layer.
We discussed with Koby Reshef, CEO of PacketLight Networks, a leading DWDM and OTN vendor in 1U devices, what it means to have 400G capacity in 1U form factor.
“The introduction of pluggable optics has allowed us to offer our customers up to 1.6T capacity in a 1U integrated solution, without compromising on any of our carrier-grade features. The 1U form factor is important, as it responds to cost and power consumption concerns, and delivers a robust, scalable, redundant, and low latency solution. The modular solution offers high performance with a lower cost per bit, optimizing the link budget, and supporting standard forward error correction (FEC) modes for interoperability. Additionally, we support Layer-1 encryption based on GCM-AES-256 standards and Diffie-Hellman (DH) Key Exchange, and protection against fibre cut or equipment failure.”
So, where do we go from here?As 400G technology is maturing under circumstances of unprecedented growth and demand, it is under great pressure to be all things to all people and address the different challenges that different organizations face. The 400G portfolio now offered by leading vendors is explicitly designed to accommodate a broad range of use cases and configurations, with modular devices that are interoperable with third-party network infrastructures.
These use cases evidence the flexibility of the solution, with 400G metro and long-haul network applications of up to 1,200km, as well as 200G long-haul applications of up to 2,500km, high-capacity DCI for campuses and cloud networks, last-mile access CPE for 100GbE managed services, and so on.
Next-generation transponders and muxponders based on pluggable optics ensure that future 400G capacity upgrades will maintain the flexibility, modularity, and power-saving capabilities that network operators have become accustomed to over the years. This technology also eliminates vendor lock-in and allows for the easy expansion of existing network capacity without replacing hardware. It can even allow companies to upgrade existing networks to 400G rather than starting again from scratch, which has an immense cost and functionality implications for both current and future applications.
The next generation 400G muxponders/transponders coupled with pluggable optics are the solution that answers the questions of “why 400G and why now?” while putting the data industry in a good position to tackle the many demands of tomorrow.