Precision Timing When Every Second Counts

Contributed by Chris Moezzi, Vice President and General Manager of Foundational NIC, IP, and Customer Solutions, Intel Corporation.

Have you ever seen a crew performing a pit stop in a motor race? How about when one of the pit crew members fails to keep pace with the others, causing a delay in the pit stop? In a sport where fractions of a second can mean winning or losing a race, the synchronization and accuracy of the pit crew members (not just the driver) play a critical role in the outcome of a race.

Staying at the Forefront of 5G vRAN Transformation

Time is a valuable element of 5G virtualized radio access network (vRAN) performance. To use a real-world example, in the same manner synchronization and accuracy are key ingredients to the performance of a motor race “pit crew,” time synchronization in 5G vRAN plays an equally critical role in network performance and end-user 5G experiences in their everyday lives. Through the RAN, end-users use their cell phones to browse the web, use an app, or make a phone call. As 5G continues to evolve, new use cases continue to emerge, calling for low-latency and precision timing capabilities as part of a cost-effective solution. Intel enables communication service providers (CoSPs) to stay at the forefront of 5G vRAN transformation and deliver new or improved capabilities and services.

The new Intel® Ethernet 800 Series Network Adapters E810-CQDA2T (formerly codenamed Logan Beach) and E810-XXVA4T (formerly codenamed Westport Channel) are optimized for deployments from the cloud to the 5G edge by offering advancements that simplify timing synchronization and greater timing accuracy. HW-enhanced 1588 precision time protocol (PTP) and Synchronous Ethernet (SyncE) support featured on these adapters enhance the timing synchronization with other parts of 5G vRAN infrastructure. These advancements and innovations improve timing synchronization and present benefits to end-user applications.

Intel® Ethernet 800 Series Network Adapters E810-CQDA2T and E810-XXVA4T

Timing Synchronization in Emergency Location Services

Take, for example, Enhanced 911 (in the United States) or eCall (999 in Europe) services. Using trilateration, a technique that detects the timing delay between different cell towers, emergency responders can pinpoint an emergency caller’s relative location within a given radius.

In the past, 3G applications could identify an emergency caller’s location within approximately a 100-meter radius. With the improved timing hardware implemented in 4G RAN, an emergency caller’s location radius could be reduced to approximately 50 meters. Now, thanks to HW-Enhanced 1588 PTP and SyncE, the E810-CQDA2T and E810-XXVA4T adapters can maximize timing accuracy and minimize timing variance in cell site synchronization to tighten an emergency caller’s location radius even further to approximately 30 meters over 5G vRAN [1].

HW-Enhanced 1588 PTP and SyncE in the E810-CQDA2T and E810-XXVA4T Intel® Ethernet Network Adapters can tighten a caller’s location radius to approximately 30 meters over 5G vRAN.

Timing synchronization for 5G vRAN solutions requires a substantial degree of accuracy. Should the infrastructure for timing synchronization be insufficient, end-users can experience poor services and frequent disruptions, resulting in dropped calls, poor video quality, and in the context of our example use case, inaccurate location services. When every second counts in an emergency situation, improving and accelerating the delivery of location services is crucial to increasing the success rate of emergency response. As a synchronized and highly accurate pit crew can help win a motor race, so too can accurate timing synchronization in 5G vRAN help bring a successful response to an emergency.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, come see a demonstration of this use case at the Intel booth located in Hall 3, Stand #3E31. We’ll present how vRAN timing synchronization increases the accuracy of emergency location services and discuss the key features of the E810-CQDA2T and E810-XXVA4T Intel® Ethernet Network Adapters. We’ll even have samples available at the kiosk for you to take a closer look at these adapters.

Meet Intel at FutureNet Asia, 18/19 October 2023, Singapore

Trusted Solutions for 5G vRAN Infrastructure

Intel’s unmatched portfolio demonstrates our commitment to innovate and deliver the most trusted solutions for 5G vRAN infrastructure. Set to launch at MWC Barcelona 2023, 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors with Intel® vRAN Boost offer CoSPs the ability to boost networks by enabling programmable infrastructure and eliminating the need for custom vRAN accelerator cards. With forward error correction (FEC) acceleration directly integrated into these processors, CoSPs can maintain reliable service through detection and correction of transmission errors with reduced power consumption and total cost of ownership.

Combine these features with those found in E810-XXVDA4T or E810-CQDA2T Intel® Ethernet Network Adapters, and CoSPs can deploy a 5G vRAN solution with hardware-enhanced timing synchronization capabilities that meet stringent vRAN requirements while eliminating the need for expensive, dedicated timing appliances. In dense radio configurations, CoSPs can add the Intel® vRAN Accelerator ACC100 Adapter for increased capacity through its concurrent 5G and 4G FEC acceleration, integrated Intel® FlexRAN software reference architectures, and support of cloud native, VM, and bare metal.

Watch this video to see how Intel’s portfolio of solutions for vRAN come together to maximize vRAN transformation.

Intel’s solutions for vRAN enable flexible and scalable platforms that deliver high timing accuracy and FEC acceleration, avoid vendor lock-in by removing the need for expensive proprietary systems, and reduce total cost of ownership. Intel continues to provide and evolve solutions for vRAN in pursuit of delivering innovations that address the many challenges faced by CoSPs, including timing synchronization precision in 5G vRAN ecosystems. It’s why more than 90% of today’s commercial vRAN networks around the world run on Intel architecture [2].

As the driver is a key factor to the success of a racing team, the other members, like the pit crew, racing strategists, and engineers, are significant contributors to the overall outcome of a race. When the entire team comes together, in sync and focused, the team’s performance is exponentially greater. With 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors in the driver seat and the pit crew of Intel® Ethernet 800 Series Network Adapters ready to ensure the car connects through every corner of the racetrack, Intel’s portfolio of solutions for vRAN come together to optimize the potential of earning a place on the podium.

Discover how Intel® Solutions for vRAN enable CoSPs to build vRAN solutions that meet unique customer needs with accelerated time to market deployment by visiting

Notices & Disclaimers:

Performance varies by use, configuration, and other factors. Learn more on the Performance Index site.

Performance results are based on testing as of dates shown in configurations and may not reflect all publicly available updates. See backup for configuration details. No product or component can be absolutely secure.

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Your costs and results may vary. Code names are used by Intel to identify products, technologies, or services that are in development and not publicly available. These are not “commercial” names and not intended to function as trademarks.

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1. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. report published August 7, 2014, “Introduction to OTDOA on LTE Networks.”

2. Dell’Oro report published in Jan. 2023, “Mobile RAN Five-Year Forecast Report 2023–2027 Vol.22 №1,” with Intel analysts.

Header Photo by gustavo Campos on Unsplash

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