At present, 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 answer supplier and operators to comprehend the complete potential of disaggregated and programmable networks. We purpose 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 purpose of Open RAN is to speed up innovation within the RAN house via the disaggregation of capabilities 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 (generally 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 potential 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 reside 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 potential 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 Selection award beneath 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 a lot of RAN management use circumstances that require dynamic service fashions past these laid out in O-RAN at this time, corresponding to entry to IQ samples, RLC and MAC queue sizes, and packet retransmission data. 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 may be derived and shared with xApp. Additional, a virtualized RAN provides so many extra prospects, 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. At the moment, operators sometimes have to do a drive check 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. 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 varied locations within the reside RAN system, then it may possibly estimate the pending course of hundreds and optimize the CPU frequency at a really excessive tempo, to be able to cut back the RAN server energy consumption. Our examine has proven that we are able to cut back the RAN energy consumption by 30 p.c via this methodology—even throughout busy durations. To assist this in Open RAN, we are going to want a brand new service mannequin that exposes packet queuing data.
These new use circumstances are envisioned for the time after the present E2 interface has been standardized. To realize them, although, we’d like new RAN platform applied sciences to shortly lengthen this interface to assist 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 answer 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 write down their very own telemetry, management, and inference items of code (known 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 reside RAN system and on its essential 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 routinely pre-empted if operating 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 hundreds of 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 present RAN operations.
The next picture illustrates the general framework and the dynamic service mannequin denoted by the star circle with the letter D.
The good thing about the dynamic extension framework with low-latency management is that it may possibly open the chance for third-party real-time management algorithms. Historically, because of the 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 potential.
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 customary instrumentation factors aligned with the usual 3GPP RAN structure to realize greater visibility into the RAN’s inner state. We have now additional developed 17 dynamic service fashions, and enabled many new and thrilling functions that have been beforehand not thought potential.
Examples of latest 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 power 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 save lots of energy when operating the RAN software program. One such alternative may 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 is never 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 prompt 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 potential to write down a novel CPU frequency prediction algorithm based mostly on the variety of energetic customers, and modifications in several queue sizes. We have now applied this algorithm on prime 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 durations.
Exterior wi-fi interference has lengthy been a supply of efficiency points in mobile networks. Detecting exterior wi-fi interference is troublesome and sometimes requires a truck roll with specialised tools and specialists 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 have now developed a dynamic service mannequin that averages the obtained IQ samples throughout frequency chunks and occasions 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 answer 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.