FPGA vendor Altera Corp. has entered into a three-year strategic agreement with the China Mobile Research Institute (CMRI), the research division of China Mobile Communications Corp. (Beijing, China), to develop basestations for cloud-based C-RAN architecture mobile infrastructure.
China Mobile is a state-owned mobile phone service provider that has developed C-RAN, which stands for centralized radio access network. C-RAN is designed to support 2G, 3G, 4G and future wireless communications standards.
The result of the research could not only result in big orders for Altera but also for its upstream foundry supplier. Altera gets much of its silicon made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. but for its most advanced devices Altera is using the 14nm FinFET manufacturing process developed by Intel Corp.
Altera said it will be working with CMRI to research and prototype C-RAN systems that make use of network function virtualization (NFV). The two parties will research and develop centralized baseband processing within wireless basestations with the goal of delivering lower power consumption and higher scalability than conventional basestations. This will, in turn, lead to lower total operating costs.
FPGAs are widely used in wireless network equipment due to their high performance and ability to be reprogrammed for changing industry standards. They also allow high performance to be delivered at reasonable cost in applications where volumes would not justify dedicated custom ICs.
The agreement was signed on August 15 in Beijing, China at the 2014 International Mobile Internet Conference, which is organized and sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the three major Chinese operators including China Mobile.
"CMRI has shown great innovation in developing the C-RAN architecture as a way to reduce carrier network costs and manage the networks more efficiently," said Francis Chow, vice president and general manager of Altera's communications business unit, in a statement. "The pursuit of centralization, high efficiency and scalability in C-RAN is a perfect fit for our flexible FPGAs, software and IP, and we are honored to work with CMRI on future architectures."
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