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Building Sustainable 5G Network Infrastructure at Scale 

Arm Neoverse-based platforms are redefining what is possible in cloud to edge infrastructure by delivering market leading scalable efficiency and enabling our partners with the degrees-of-freedom to innovate.
By Panch Chandrasekaran, Director, 5G Carrier Infrastructure, Arm

Network operators across the world are facing various challenges when it comes to deploying 5G network infrastructure. While connectivity and data consumption are exponentially growing, the energy costs to support this infrastructure are also dramatically increasing. Just consider this: 

  • There are more than 1 billion active 5G connections today and is projected to grow to 5 billion subscribers by 2028.
  • IEEE report suggests that a 5G base station is generally expected to consume roughly three times as much power as a 4G base station. And more 5G base stations are needed to cover the same area.
  • GSMA estimates that energy consumption constitutes between 20 – 40% of total network OPEX for service providers.

Operators must rethink equipment, services, and networks due to the demand for higher performance and economic and environmental challenges. The network must be intelligent, power efficient to reduce OpEx, and able to support new use cases and market demands. Energy efficiency is key for a sustainable rollout of the network infrastructure.

Arm Neoverse: Delivering best power performance for Network Infrastructure

Arm Neoverse-based platforms are redefining what is possible in cloud to edge infrastructure by delivering market leading scalable efficiency and enabling our partners with the degrees-of-freedom to innovate. As a result, we’ve seen rapid adoption of Neoverse since its introduction in 2018, as today all major public clouds are offering  instances based on Neoverse.

In the 5G RAN and wireless infrastructure, Arm has historically been the leading CPU architecture of choice from radios to the core network with Arm providing leading performance at reduced power, greater throughput, resulting in critical TCO benefits. This enables our partners to customize products for applications and use cases ranging from small cells, macro cells, to private networks. Let’s look at what makes Arm Neoverse platform the best choice for end to end 5G network infrastructure.

Carrier-grade 5G hardware and software platforms 

By providing flexibility to the partners to vary power, core count, and technology features, Arm Neoverse processors power the cloud, the edge, and network infrastructure. Neoverse-based CPUs deliver 2x-3.5x more performance per watt than traditional processors for 40% or better price performance. 

Classical Radio Access Networks (RAN) are customized solutions with tightly coupled software and hardware accelerators. Today, these constitute over 90% of cellular deployments spanning multiple generations of radio access technologies. Under the hood, you will most likely encounter an Arm CPU powering the base station. 

As networks become increasingly virtualized and software driven, the need for efficient compute, not just in the base stations but in the core network processing, becomes even more acute. A growing ecosystem of influential networking providers is coalescing around Arm due to the best balance of performance, power efficiency and TCO benefits. 

Leading equipment providers like Nokia and Samsung are increasingly deploying Arm based hardware in the 5G networks. Nokia’s ReefShark , and Samsung’s baseband SoC, developed in collaborations with Marvell are highly efficient and powerful chipsets for 5G networks, and are deployed in many leading networks around the world including China Mobile, Vodafone, NTT DOCOMO, Orange and Telstra. 

HPE and Supermicro have recently announced the availability of commercial off-shelf Arm servers that are powered by Arm Neoverse based Ampere Altra processors. These servers offer the best compute for cloud-native workloads, specifically delivering high performance per watt.

And on the software front, Arm Neoverse enjoys broad software ecosystem support that includes leading operating systems vendors, container and virtualization environments, ISVs, OSS projects, Industry standards and initiatives etc. Wind River and Arm are jointly working on porting StarlingX, Wind River Studio is the commercial offering of StarlingX, to Arm platforms.  Red Hat and Arm are collaborating on virtualized implementation for RAN workloads using Red Hat OpenShift.

Cutting-edge use cases on Arm-based 5G 

Arm partner ecosystem for 5G Solutions 

In order to deliver the advantages of the Arm architecture to the 5G network market more quickly, we announced the Arm 5G Solutions Lab in Oct 2021. New use cases are constantly being developed within the lab on Arm Neoverse based 5G platforms and today at Mobile World Congress, we are showcasing many such solutions. Some highlights include:

  • Low Latency Private 5G Network for Virtual Reality: Private 5G Networks are tuned to handle low latency workloads such as AR/VR. In this use case, the private network is deployed using Compal Small cells running on Arm based NXP chipsets and is used in a high speed drone racing event to provide reliable, high throughput and low latency connection of 10 milliseconds required by drone pilots.
  • Pure software private 5G network: is one in which all the necessary modules for the network are implemented as software and deployed on a containerized platform. The demo is based on the Supermicro’s Arm servers. The servers are equipped with the necessary hardware to run the 5G network software modules, which are supplied by different vendors such as Effnet and Phluido for Centralized Unit (CU) and Distributed Unit (DU) modules respectively, Druid for Core and Benetel for the Radio Unit (RU) . This solution allows for a high level of flexibility and scalability for the 5G network, as well as easier upgrades and maintenance. Additionally, using a containerization platform like Red Hat OpenShift allows for the efficient deployment and management of the 5G software modules, making it easier to deploy and manage the network.
  • AI-on-5G Private Network: A cost-effective converged platform that can accelerate demanding 5G and AI workloads. This demo features an NVIDIA converged accelerator hosted on a GIGABYTE Arm server using Ampere Altra SOC running NVIDIA Metropolis IVA, NVIDIA Aerial 5G L1 and Radisys RAN stack. It showcases how leveraging NVIDIA and its multi-instance GPU technology, 5G and AI tasks can be efficiently performed concurrently.

Strong vRAN ecosystem built on Arm 

Virtual RAN (vRAN) allows network operators to use software to programmatically control and configure their network resources and ensure effective utilization of compute. Many operators and 5G ecosystem partners are actively developing and deploying vRAN and Open RAN based solutions on Arm Neoverse based platforms today.

  • Marvell’s OCTEON 10 Fusion processor, the industry’s first 5nm SoC that integrates comprehensive 5G in-line acceleration and Arm Neoverse N2 CPUs, is built on Marvell’s widely deployed baseband technology and is the foundation for its Open RAN vDU solution. This DU solution is implemented by Arm partners such as Arraycomm.
  • NVIDIA’s converged accelerators like A30x and A100x enable GPU and DPU-accelerated signal and data processing for 5G vRAN and AI workloads to deliver concurrent 5G higher data throughputs and AI tasks. NVIDIA accelerators are integrated with various Arm partners such as Radisys and Capgemini Engineering. 
  • NXP/Genevisio 5G DU accelerator card is built in PCIe x8 form factor and can be easily deployed in the existing 5G platforms to run the O-RAN fronthaul protocols and to offload the DU functions to the host server. This card is used in DU solutions provided by Arm ecosystem including Radisys and Astella Technologies.
  • EdgeQ S Series, built on Arm Neoverse cores, serves as an all-in-one eNB/gNB, a disaggregated RAN for 4G and 5G indoor/outdoor small cells, a neutral host network, or a fixed wireless solution.


The future of 5G networks relies on the ability to build and operate them at scale while also ensuring energy efficiency and sustainability. Arm Neoverse is designed with this in mind and offers the best path to network acceleration, underpinning sustainability and power efficiency advantages for 5G networks. 

Arm at Mobile World Congress 2023 Barcelona

Arm is thrilled to return to MWC Barcelona 2023 to showcase our latest advancements in 5G and how Arm’s highly performant, energy-efficient processors are being used in a wide range of applications, from 5G networks to the latest Arm-based smartphones and laptops enabling the very best consumer experiences. With cutting-edge demos and expert insights, the Arm booth is a must-see destination for anyone interested in the future of technology.

Visit Arm at MWC Hall 2, Stand I60

At NTT DOCOMO, we have made significant progress in our Open RAN initiatives with full multivendor interoperability. As part of our goal to optimize performance and reduce power consumption, we are proud to be testing our 5G core functions on Arm in the cloud and achieving a 72% reduction in power compared to alternative solutions. Arm-based solutions with their proven compute efficiency are increasingly important for a diverse Open RAN Ecosystem, and we look forward to Arm’s contribution for all players in the Open RAN space.

Masafumi Masuda, Vice President and General Manager, Radio Access Network Development Department, NTT DOCOMO, Inc.

At Vodafone, we understand the importance of compute efficiency in delivering high performance Open RAN platforms, reducing energy costs and promoting sustainability. A strong ecosystem is key to developing state-of-the-art Open RAN products to support our strategic deployment goals. We are pleased to continue our collaboration with Arm, driving innovation and eco-system enablement through our engagements and the Arm 5G Solutions Lab.

Andy Dunkin, OpenRAN RF & Digital Platform Development Manager, Group Architecture, Vodafone

Supermicro continues to bolster our product line by introducing Arm-based servers, using the Ampere Altra and Altra Max CPUs. Expanding our already broad server product line gives customers even more choices for their specific workloads. We can quickly offer optimized application servers for customers worldwide using our Building Block Solutions approach.

Ivan Tay, SVP of Product Management, Supermicro

It is important to work across the ecosystem to innovate and advance the industry together. As a leader in the 5G landscape with proven technology live with operators in global commercial deployments, Wind River looks forward to our continued collaboration with Arm to drive further ecosystem diversity and help our shared customers rapidly and successfully build and operate future networks with greater efficiency and lower costs.

Avijit Sinha, Chief Product Officer, Wind River

With the growing demand for higher capacity, lower latency and better power efficiency in accommodating variety of 5G applications, Compal’s 5G RAN solutions incorporating Arm-based architecture brings tremendous advantage to our customers. We’re delighted to join Arm 5G Solutions Lab to demonstrate our low latency Private 5G Network for drone racing competition and critical environment across multiple industries. We look forward to continuing our collaboration within Arm ecosystem.

JS Liang, Vice President, Smart Device Business Group, Compal
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