At the moment, Microsoft is engaged on RAN Analytics and Management applied sciences for virtualized RAN working on Microsoft Edge platforms. Our aim is to empower any virtualized RAN resolution supplier and operators to understand the complete potential of disaggregated and programmable networks. We goal to develop platform applied sciences that virtualized RAN distributors can leverage to realize 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 just lately 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 aim of Open RAN is to speed up innovation within the RAN house by the disaggregation of features and publicity of inner 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 known as 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 functions accessing these service fashions.
Microsoft’s innovation extends this standard-yet-static interface. It introduces the potential of getting detailed inner states and real-time telemetric information out of the dwell RAN software program in a dynamic style for brand new RAN management functions. 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 12 months, Microsoft, along with contributions from Intel and Capgemini, has developed an analytics and management method that was acknowledged with the Gentle Studying Editor’s Alternative award underneath the class of Excellent Use case: Service supplier AI. This innovation requires dynamic companies fashions for Open RAN.
Dynamic service fashions for real-time RAN management
There are various RAN management use instances that require dynamic service fashions past these laid out in O-RAN at this time, comparable to entry to IQ samples, RLC and MAC queue sizes, and packet retransmission info. These high-volume real-time information should be aggregated and compressed earlier than being delivered to the xApp. Additionally, detailed information from totally different RAN modules throughout totally different layers like L1, L2, and L3 could should 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 usually must do a drive check to detect exterior interference in a macro cell. However now, Open RAN has the potential to interchange the costly truck roll with a software program program that detects interference alerts on the RAN’s L1 layer. Nonetheless, this can require a brand new information 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 numerous locations within the dwell RAN system, then it might estimate the pending course of hundreds and optimize the CPU frequency at a really excessive tempo, so as to scale back the RAN server energy consumption. Our research has proven that we are able to scale back the RAN energy consumption by 30 p.c by this technique—even throughout busy durations. To help 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 prolong this interface to help these and future superior RAN management functions.
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 protected method.
This method allows operators and trusted third-party builders to jot down their very own telemetry, management, and inference items of code (known as “codelets”) that may be deployed at runtime at numerous factors within the RAN software program stack, with out disrupting the RAN operations. The codelets are executed inline within the dwell RAN system and on its vital paths, permitting them to get direct entry to all necessary inner uncooked RAN information 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 robotically pre-empted if working longer than the predefined execution budgets. The dynamic code extension system is similar 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, usually incurring lower than one p.c of overhead on the present RAN operations.
The good thing about the dynamic extension framework with low-latency management is that it might open the chance for third-party real-time management algorithms. Historically, as a result of tight timing constraint, a real-time management algorithm should 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’ve got additionally recognized customary instrumentation factors aligned with the usual 3GPP RAN structure to realize greater visibility into the RAN’s inner state. We’ve got additional developed 17 dynamic service fashions, and enabled many new and thrilling functions that have been beforehand not thought attainable.
Examples of recent functions of RAN analytics
With this new Analytics and Management Framework, functions of dynamic energy financial savings and interference detection described earlier can now be realized.
RAN-agnostic dynamic energy saving
5G RAN vitality consumption is a significant OPEX merchandise for any cellular operator. Consequently, it’s paramount for a RAN platform supplier to seek out any alternative to avoid wasting energy when working the RAN software program. One such alternative could be discovered by stepping down the RAN server CPU frequency when the RAN processing load is just not at full capability. That is certainly promising as a result of web visitors is intrinsically “bursty”; even throughout peak hours, the community isn’t operated at full capability.
Nonetheless, 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 immediate 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 jot down a novel CPU frequency prediction algorithm primarily based on the variety of lively customers, and adjustments in several queue sizes. We’ve got applied this algorithm on high of Capgemini 5G RAN and Intel FlexRAN™ reference software program, and we achieved as much as 30 p.c vitality financial savings—even throughout busy durations.
Exterior wi-fi interference has lengthy been a supply of efficiency points in mobile networks. Detecting exterior wi-fi interference is tough and sometimes requires a truck roll with specialised tools and consultants to detect it. With dynamic service fashions, we are able to 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’ve got 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 stories the averages to an utility that runs an AI and machine studying mannequin for anomaly detection, so as to detect when the noise flooring will increase.
Virtualized and software-based RAN resolution supply 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.