Since the launch of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) in 2016, followed by the launch of the O-RAN Alliance at the Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona, we, the open RAN community, and all other open RAN enthusiasts have come a long way to evangelize this novel architecture and foster the development of a broad ecosystem. After all, suppressing the infamous “RAN vendor lock in” was the chief open RAN driver. However, not every open RAN layer enjoys supplier options to mix and match the best of breed. Case in point: the earliest open RAN systems most often featured the names Intel, Dell, HPE and Supermicro.
Over the past 9 months or so, the Open RAN ecosystem has experienced a steady emergence of formidable silicon contenders that are broadening the options for both communications service providers (CSPs) and vendors building their Open RAN system. AMD is one of them, which through its acquisition of Xilinx, has been making some serious foray in the second half of 2022.
Completed in February 2022, the AMD acquisition of Xilinx brings on board a leading and established supplier of FPGAs, adaptive SoCs, AI engines and software expertise. AMD, the only company besides Intel that makes x86 processors, now boasts a full suite of much needed accelerator options. While completing the acquisition, the company did not waste time to introduce its open RAN product lineup at the Mobile World Congress 2022 (MWC22) in Barcelona, including a massive MIMO (64T64R) prototype, RFSoC devices for single-radio chip design, and telco accelerator cards to vRAN solutions for private 5G networks. It’s important to state that the RFSoC is not a FPGA but an adaptive SoC that combines processing, analog and RF function blocks, and some programmable logic. In May 2022, AMD said that its Zynq™ UltraScale+™ RFSoC was being designed for integration into multiple Evenstar RUs—a Meta Platforms and TIP driven initiative aimed at significantly cutting the cost of RUs. That same year at MWC, Mavenir also stepped in the oligopolistic radio business and launched its shiny OpenBeam RU product portfolio.
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Stéphane Téral, Chief Analyst
Produced in association with AMD