MWC 2019: Intel announces 5G SoC Hewitt Lake

Intel has made a swathe of announcements at Mobile World Congress 2019, including its first Snow Ridge customers, the new Intel Xeon named Hewitt Lake, and a 5G traffic accelerator FGPA.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Intel has announced a series of 5G-focused products at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 in Barcelona, including a field-programmable gate array (FGPA) to accelerate 5G traffic, the Hewitt Lake SoC, and the first two major Snow Ridge SoC customers.

The 5G traffic accelerator product -- the FGPA programmable acceleration card N3000 -- pairs with Intel's CPU portfolio and handles up to 100Gbps of network traffic on its 5G platform, according to Intel SVP of Network Platforms Sandra Rivera.

The N3000 has 1.1 million logic elements, low-latency 9GB DDR4 DIMM memory, intelligent offload via 2x Intel Ethernet converged network adapters for packet processing, and a small form factor with dual-slot PCIe.

Customers are using the product for virtualised RAN, fronthaul, and core platform implementations, Rivera explained.

"That product will be available in the next couple of months, and we have seen a lot of interest from customers that are wanting to build out their 5G and edge infrastructure, but they certainly understand that the 5G specs will continue to evolve over time -- so an FGPA gives you that wonderful balance between high performance and flexibility," Rivera told ZDNet.

"And that is where we're seeing the use of FGPAs where you don't have a spec that's completely nailed down, or you have one that continues to evolve, because you want to build that flexibility in but you also want to begin your deployment."

Rivera added that there will be further announcements during MWC about customers who are using both the N3000 programmable acceleration card as well as the Intel CPU portfolio for 5G.

Intel secondly announced Hewitt Lake, the next-gen Intel Xeon D processor, which is billed as a high-density, highly integrated system-on-a-chip (SoC). According to Intel, Hewitt Lake is aimed at network edge, control plane, security, and mid-range storage, with an increased base frequency.

"The Xeon D Hewitt Lake SoC is really helping our customers advance their strategy for 5G and edge build-outs, and you'll see several products on display utilising Xeon D which has an increased performance over the previous generation," she said.

Intel further announced that its 10nm-based Snow Ridge SoC -- announced at CES 2019 last month which was said to be "developed specifically for 5G wireless access and edge computing" --  is now being used by both Ericsson and ZTE.

"We have two industry leaders, both Ericsson and ZTE ... using Snow Ridge as part of their 5G base station platforms that they'll be rolling out over time," Rivera said.

"Snow Ridge packs a lot of punch in a small form factor in a very constrained power envelope, it is a high-performance packet processing and control plane processing SoC, it is a 10-nanometer product that we will be launching in the second half of this year."

Additional customers could go public with Snow Ridge during MWC, Rivera added.

Intel lastly had four new announcements across its modem portfolio, the first of which is that it's developing millimetre-wave silicon to offer RF solutions to pair with the XMM 8160, which Rivera said will be needed for many of the high-bandwidth, low-latency 5G use cases. The silicon will be sampled in the second half of 2019, but is expected to hit the market in 2020.

A partnership with Fibocom will secondly see Intel use the XMM 8160 to power the 5G M.2 Module, which she said "will be used for broad scaling across many industries, industrial applications, the always-connected PC, CPE equipment for fixed mobile wireless use cases".

Thirdly, Intel is collaborating with Skyworks on sub-6GHz RF to combine Intel's XMM 8160 and the Skyworks SkyOne front-end modules.

"They have built an optimised front-end module to pair up with our 8160," Rivera said.

"This is allowing us to go to market in a highly optimised way for addressing the sub-6GHz product requirements and platform requirements of many of our customers across the globe."

Lastly, Intel said customers including D-Link, Gemtek, Arcaduan, and VVDN Technologies will be announcing multiple gateway products running on the Intel XMM 7560 4G modem with a "seamless upgrade" to the 5G XMM 8160 in 2020.

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona as a guest of Intel

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