"A leading role in 5G is at stake for major chip providers if they can create an end-to-end platform as networks move to the cloud."
Deploying a RAN on commodity hardware opens the door for merchant processor makers in the 5G market, but comes with the challenge to reduce costs significantly while supporting extremely demanding tasks. Only a few vendors will achieve the end-to-end platform that will make the cloud-RAN economically viable for the whole supply chain.
The evolution to cloud infrastructure in order to support digital transformation is leading to a revolution in hardware architecture. 5G technology is an example of a driver of such an evolution and is being targeted by all major chip providers as a foundation of the future digital platform. 5G poses a number of challenges for chip providers because it requires very-high-performance cloud platforms plus specialised connectivity chips. Current chip providers are threatened by open-source developments, as well as those made in house by NEPs.
This report describes the competitive landscape for chip providers in the 5G era, and the options that are open them to secure a strong commercial position in 5G and therefore, in the future digital platform. It provides recommendations to help them with their strategic decisions for 5G, and will also help NEPs and operators to make their own decisions regarding building platforms, buying platforms or using open-source alternatives.
It is based on several sources:
- internal research including operator surveys
- interviews with stakeholders: major and specialist chip providers, open initiatives, licensable IP providers, NEPs and hyperscale companies.
Please note that all acronyms are defined in a separate glossary.
In this report, we answer the following questions:
- What are the critical success factors for large chip providers that are entering or defending their position in the 5G market?
- What will the 5G chip landscape look like, and how will it relate to the broader cloud infrastructure?
- How can new architecture resolve the conflict between falling network TCO requirements and the rising variety and complexity of network chips?
- How can NEPs and operators improve their 5G and cloud economics and reduce their overall costs by combining merchant platforms with open-source frameworks?
Who Should Read this Report
- Senior executives and decision makers in semiconductor companies in
- the IT/data centre and telecoms connectivity markets.
- M&A departments of these same semiconductor companies.
- Investment firms specialising in semiconductors.
- Strategy departments or CTOs of NEPs and cloud providers.
- CTOs and standards/open-source delegates within large MNOs.
- Executive summary
- Research overview
- The evolution of an end-to-end 5G platform
- The need for programmability and full integration
- Open-source technology is both a threat and an opportunity
- About the Author