Migrate to a 5G Core (5GC) Network

Simplify deployments and mitigate risks for your transition to a 5G core network. Intel provides high-performance compute, connectivity, and powerful optimizations to help you enable an easy, controlled deployment.

5G Core Network Key Takeaways

  • 5G core handles essential connectivity management functions in a service-based architecture at significantly faster data rates than 4G.

  • 5G core provides performance and flexibility to support the high device density and latency requirements needed to deliver a better user experience.

  • CoSPs face several challenges—such as managing SLAs, vendors, security, and more—when designing and deploying a fully realized 5G stand-alone core.

  • Intel® solutions help drive exceptional 5G core performance and power savings while accelerating time to market.

  • With Intel® hardware, CoSPs can achieve up to 30 percent reduced energy consumption1 for their 5G core networks.



What Is a 5G Core (5GC) Network?

The core is the heart of a communications service provider (CoSP) mobile network that handles essential functions for connectivity and management. A 5G core (5GC) differs from traditional network core deployments by leveraging key cloud-native innovations such as virtualization, containerization, and microservices, while enabling high-performance 5G connectivity.

The key capabilities of a 5GC network include:

  • Network slicing: The layering of several virtual networks onto a shared physical network infrastructure.
  • Control plane: Rules and policies that determine network behaviors, including where and how to route data packets.
  • Cross-network API integration: Enabling applications managed in one network to access or modify data in another network.
  • User or SIM authentication: Verifying that the user accessing the network is allowed to do so.

Previous-generation 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) Core networks achieve a theoretical data rate of up to 100 Mbps. In comparison, 5GC networks can achieve a theoretical data rate of up to 20 Gbps. These network speeds, combined with cloud-native flexibility, will usher in a new era of connectivity to support advanced use cases such as autonomous driving and smart cities.

Understand 5G Network Core Benefits

In addition to paradigm shifts in commercial, enterprise, and end-user applications, 5GC also empowers CoSPs with key benefits that directly impact competitive standing.

  • Performance: Not only can 5GC enable 5G mobile network speeds, but the data throughput for both control plane functions (CPF) and user plane functions (UPF) will achieve dramatic new heights. For instance, Samsung achieved up to 1 Tbps UPF data throughput.
  • Efficiency: CoSPs can improve energy efficiency to help reduce operating expenditures (OpEx) and meet sustainability goals. Capabilities such as dynamic power tuning can adjust power cycles to meet predictable demands on the network. For example, SK Telecom reduced power consumption by 30 percent during peak traffic hours.
  • Flexibility: In legacy deployments, services were tied to fixed-function hardware, and new services required infrastructural changes that were slow to deploy. With 5GC, new features or services are disaggregated from the underlying hardware and quickly deployed using cloud tools such as containers and Kubernetes.
  • Resiliency: Container-based services are packaged with everything they need to operate, reducing dependencies while driving isolation and fault tolerance across the network.

Plan Your 5GC Network Deployment

The transformation from 4G LTE to 5G involves strategic considerations made between CoSPs and their technology providers around the extent they integrate new technologies with existing investments. CoSPs can layer virtualization technologies over existing 4G LTE infrastructure to bring network capabilities in line with the 3GPP mobile standards’ definition of a 5GC network. This type of deployment is known as a non-stand-alone (NSA) core.

Select an Approach: Stand-Alone vs. Non-Stand-Alone Core

NSA implementations help ease the transition to 5GC but are ultimately limited by the latency and functionality of the installed 4G LTE base. Conversely, a 5G stand-alone (SA) core requires truly cloud-native hardware and software with decentralized functions, service-based architecture, and the latest generation processors to deliver 5G speeds. Use cases that demand mission-critical latency with high device density, such as smart cities and smart factories, will need 5G SA core.

Download this IDC survey to learn more about CoSP perspectives on 5G SA core and the state of the industry.

Leverage the Proven Intel® 5GC Roadmap and Product Portfolio

For over a decade, Intel has been at the forefront of the movement to virtualize the core, and now we’re collaborating with the broader ecosystem to help CoSPs successfully transition to a cloud-native 5G core.

Compute: Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors

4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors deliver the exceptional performance and efficiency that CoSPs need to stay competitive with up to 30 percent higher UPF performance compared to the previous generation.1 This latest generation also features integrated Intel® Accelerator Engines that include workload-specific accelerators for today’s most demanding workloads, spanning AI, security, HPC, networking, analytics, and storage.

Security: Integrated 5G Core Network Security Capabilities

While cloud-native architecture makes 5G SA core incredibly flexible, it also introduces security challenges. The highly distributed, service-based architecture and inclusion of web-based APIs can increase a network’s overall attack surface.

Intel® QuickAssist Technology (Intel® QAT), an integrated workload accelerator in 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, offloads encryption and compression workloads to free up valuable CPU cycles for other important work. Other built-in security features, such as Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel® SGX), enable trusted execution environments for microservices and workloads in flight, making it easier for CoSPs to help secure edge-to-core workloads. Learn how Intel and Fortanix help secure 5GC communication with Intel® SGX.

Optimization: Intel® Infrastructure Power Manager

Intel® Infrastructure Power Manager for 5GC reference software allows CoSPs to take advantage of the telemetry features offered in the Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor family. The software matches runtime server power consumption with data traffic in the 5GC network in real time and takes advantage of built-in capabilities, such as sleep states and Intel® Speed Select Technology (Intel® SST), that improve performance per watt up to 93 percent.2

Many of these power management hooks are available today with Intel® Xeon® “N” SKUs, with additional optimizations and workload-level power instructions coming in future generations.

Connectivity: Intel® Ethernet 800 Series Network Adapters

Intel® Ethernet 800 Series network adapters deliver speeds of up to 100GbE and deliver packet-processing optimizations along with a fully programmable pipeline to help CoSPs improve latency and throughput in their network cores. In addition to offering flexible port configurations, these adapters support dynamic device personalization (DDP) to intelligently prioritize which packets are sent to the CPU for immediate processing.

Enable a Smooth Network Transformation with the Intel® 5GC Stack

Intel’s leadership also extends to software and reference architectures that enhance network operator efficiency and help ensure high-quality end user experiences.

Software: The Intel 5G Core Stack

Intel utilizes a 5G core-ready software stack for internal testing that includes benchmarking, performance, and optimization. This platform helps ensure CoSPs and telecom equipment manufacturer (TEM) and software vendor solutions are tuned to reach maximum performance and efficiency. The stack also helps ensure network service orchestration and assurance capabilities are up to task for the transition to 5G SA core, enabling ease of deployment.

Design and Deployment: 5G Core Reference Configurations

Intel engineers bring deep expertise into lower-level platform configurations, from the communication as a service (CaaS) layer down to the hardware. By providing verified reference configurations (VRCs), Intel ensures that various building blocks from multiple vendors are aligned. These building blocks include a data plane development kit (DPDK), Linux kernel, and optimized BIOS and firmware configurations for various OEM platforms.

This effort helps ensure interoperability across operating system vendors and equipment manufacturers and helps ensure alignment of critical 5G core applications with preverified configurations. As a result, CoSPs can save months of design and test time and accelerate their deployment of new processor and platform technologies.

Watch this interview to learn how Intel helped BT Group overcome challenges in establishing a common platform for its 5G network transformation.

Achieve Unmatched Capabilities for a Cloud-Native 5G Stand-Alone Core

With Intel, the telecommunications ecosystem is deploying cloud-native 5G SA cores with stellar performance, optimized power management, and automated service assurance. And with a collective of 500+ Intel® Network Builders, we are working with TEMs, ISVs, OSVs, and CoSPs to bring the benefits of network flexibility, agility, service assurance, and the scale of virtualized functions and cloud-native platforms to the communications space.