At the moment, Microsoft is engaged on RAN Analytics and Management applied sciences for virtualized RAN operating on Microsoft Edge platforms. Our purpose is to empower any virtualized RAN resolution supplier and operators to appreciate the complete potential of disaggregated and programmable networks. We purpose to develop platform applied sciences that virtualized RAN distributors can leverage to achieve analytics insights of their RAN software program operations, and to make use of these insights for operational automations, machine studying, and AI-driven optimizations.
Microsoft has not too long ago made necessary progress in RAN analytics and management know-how. Microsoft Azure for Operators is introducing versatile, dynamically loaded service fashions to each the RAN software program stack and cloud/edge platforms internet hosting the RAN, to speed up the tempo of innovation in Open RAN.
The purpose of Open RAN is to speed up innovation within the RAN area via the disaggregation of capabilities and publicity of inside interfaces for interoperability, controllability, and programmability. The present standardization effort of O-RAN by O-RAN Alliance, specifies the RAN Clever Controller (RIC) structure that exposes a set of telemetry and management interfaces with predefined service fashions (often called the E2 interface). Open RAN distributors are anticipated to implement all E2 service fashions laid out in the usual. Close to-real-time RAN controls are made attainable with xApp purposes accessing these service fashions.
Microsoft’s innovation extends this standard-yet-static interface. It introduces the potential of getting detailed inside states and real-time telemetric knowledge out of the stay RAN software program in a dynamic vogue for brand spanking new RAN management purposes. With this know-how, along with detailed platform telemetry, operators can obtain higher community monitoring and efficiency optimization for his or her 5G networks, and allow new AI, analytics, and automation capabilities that weren’t attainable earlier than.
This yr, Microsoft, along with contributions from Intel and Capgemini, has developed an analytics and management strategy that was acknowledged with the Gentle Studying Editor’s Alternative award below the class of Excellent Use case: Service supplier AI. This innovation requires dynamic providers fashions for Open RAN.
Dynamic service fashions for real-time RAN management
There are lots of RAN management use instances that require dynamic service fashions past these laid out in O-RAN at present, corresponding to entry to IQ samples, RLC and MAC queue sizes, and packet retransmission info. These high-volume real-time knowledge must be aggregated and compressed earlier than being delivered to the xApp. Additionally, detailed knowledge from completely different RAN modules throughout completely different layers like L1, L2, and L3 could must be collected and correlated in real-time earlier than any helpful perception could be derived and shared with xApp. Additional, a virtualized RAN gives so many extra potentialities, that any static interface or service mannequin could also be ineffective in assembly the extra superior real-time management wants.
One such instance happens with interference detection. Right now, operators sometimes must do a drive take a look at to detect exterior interference in a macro cell. However now, Open RAN has the potential to exchange the costly truck roll with a software program program that detects interference alerts on the RAN’s L1 layer. Nevertheless, this can require a brand new knowledge service mannequin with direct entry to uncooked IQ samples on the bodily layer. One other instance exists in dynamic energy saving. If a RAN energy controller can see the variety of packets queued at varied locations within the stay RAN system, then it may estimate the pending course of hundreds and optimize the CPU frequency at a really excessive tempo, to be able to scale back the RAN server energy consumption. Our examine has proven that we will scale back the RAN energy consumption by 30 p.c via this technique—even throughout busy intervals. To assist this in Open RAN, we’ll want a brand new service mannequin that exposes packet queuing info.
These new use instances are envisioned for the time after the present E2 interface has been standardized. To attain them, although, we want new RAN platform applied sciences to rapidly lengthen this interface to assist these and future superior RAN management purposes.
The Microsoft RAN analytics and management framework
The Microsoft RAN analytics and management framework extends the present RIC service fashions in O-RAN structure to be each versatile and dynamic. Within the course of, the framework permits RAN resolution suppliers and operators to outline their very own service fashions for dynamic RAN monitoring and management. Right here, the underlying know-how is a runtime system that may dynamically load and execute third-party code in a trusted and secure method.
This technique allows operators and trusted third-party builders to write down their very own telemetry, management, and inference items of code (referred to as “codelets”) that may be deployed at runtime at varied factors within the RAN software program stack, with out disrupting the RAN operations. The codelets are executed inline within the stay RAN system and on its important paths, permitting them to get direct entry to all necessary inside uncooked RAN knowledge constructions, to gather statistics, and to make real-time inference and management selections.
To make sure safety and security, the codelets checked with static verified with verification instruments earlier than they are often loaded, and they are going to be mechanically pre-empted if operating longer than the predefined execution budgets. The dynamic code extension system is identical because the Prolonged Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF), which is a confirmed know-how that has been entrusted to run customized codes in Linux kernels on thousands and thousands of mission-critical servers across the globe. The inline execution can also be extraordinarily quick, sometimes incurring lower than one p.c of overhead on the prevailing RAN operations.
The advantage of the dynamic extension framework with low-latency management is that it may open the chance for third-party real-time management algorithms. Historically, as a result of tight timing constraint, a real-time management algorithm have to be tightly applied and built-in contained in the RAN system. The Microsoft RAN analytics framework permits RAN software program to delegate sure real-time management to RIC, doubtlessly resulting in a future market the place real-time management algorithms, machine studying, and AI fashions for optimizations could also be attainable.
Microsoft, Intel, and Capgemini have collectively prototyped this know-how in Intel’s FlexRAN™ reference software program and Capgemini’s 5G RAN. We have now additionally recognized normal instrumentation factors aligned with the usual 3GPP RAN structure to realize greater visibility into the RAN’s inside state. We have now additional developed 17 dynamic service fashions, and enabled many new and thrilling purposes that have been beforehand not thought attainable.
Examples of recent purposes of RAN analytics
With this new Analytics and Management Framework, purposes of dynamic energy financial savings and interference detection described earlier can now be realized.
RAN-agnostic dynamic energy saving
5G RAN power consumption is a significant OPEX merchandise for any cell operator. Because of this, it’s paramount for a RAN platform supplier to search out any alternative to save lots of energy when operating the RAN software program. One such alternative could be discovered by stepping down the RAN server CPU frequency when the RAN processing load isn’t at full capability. That is certainly promising as a result of web site visitors is intrinsically “bursty”; even throughout peak hours, the community isn’t operated at full capability.
Nevertheless, any dynamic RAN energy controller should even have correct load prediction and quick response in millisecond timescale. In any other case, if one a part of RAN is in hibernation, then any on the spot site visitors burst will trigger critical efficiency points, and even crashes. The Microsoft RAN analytics framework with dynamic service fashions and low-latency control-loop makes it attainable to write down a novel CPU frequency prediction algorithm based mostly on the variety of lively customers, and modifications in numerous queue sizes. We have now applied this algorithm on high of Capgemini 5G RAN and Intel FlexRAN™ reference software program, and we achieved as much as 30 p.c power financial savings—even throughout busy intervals.
Exterior wi-fi interference has lengthy been a supply of efficiency points in mobile networks. Detecting exterior wi-fi interference is troublesome and infrequently requires a truck roll with specialised gear and consultants to detect it. With dynamic service fashions, we will flip an O-RAN 5G base station right into a software-defined radio that may detect and characterize exterior wi-fi interference with out affecting the radio efficiency. We have now developed a dynamic service mannequin that averages the obtained IQ samples throughout frequency chunks and instances inside an L1 of the FlexRAN™ reference software program stack. The service mannequin in flip reviews the averages to an software that runs an AI and machine studying mannequin for anomaly detection, to be able to detect when the noise flooring will increase.
Virtualized and software-based RAN resolution provide immense potential of programmable networks that may leverage AI, machine studying, and analytics to enhance community effectivity. Dynamic service fashions for O-RAN interfaces additional enhances the tempo of innovation with added flexibility and safety.