If 5G really lives up to its hype, will it make edge computing irrelevant?
That's one of the questions that came up while perusing Tractica's latest report, Artificial Intelligence for Edge Devices. Tractica's London-based research director Aditya Kaul, the report's author, also raised the issue in his latest blog post, How Will 5G Impact AI Processing at the Edge?.
"5G could make edge computing largely irrelevant because performing computing in the cloud would be almost the same as doing processing on the device," Kaul writes in his blog post. "5G would narrow the gap between processing in the cloud versus on the device, and in many ways, would have centralized processing as the preferred option because of higher processing capabilities and less restrictive power budgets. 5G could essentially make the entire debate around AI edge computing irrelevant."
Indeed, if 5G can deliver its promise of gigabit bandwidth capabilities, millisecond latencies and and reliable connections, the network architecture that supports AI processing could change. Will it reside on cloud and on-premises servers, as most of it does now, or will it move to edge devices? Could it all be done in the cloud in just a few years?
Before looking ahead to those questions, it's worth considering that a lot of AI processing is needed now, and there's a big opportunity around edge computing to make that happen. Tractica estimates the AI edge devices compute opportunity will reach $51.6 billion by 2025. Kaul points to the need for data privacy, issues with bandwidth, cost, latency and security as contributing factors. And, yet, this "transition becomes a bit blurry with 5G entering the picture," he writes.
Also, Kaul writes that it is worth noting that the telecom industry itself, as we'll no doubt hear more about at Mobile World Congress Americas this week, is positioning 5G as an enabler for AI edge processing. "They see 5G as the underlying fabric of communication for devices to connect to each other and to edge servers to offload some of their content and processing capabilities and improve latency," writes Kaul.
Check out his blog post and report, which lays out AI edge processing across several consumer and enterprise device markets. Admittedly, "the 5G's gonna break stuff" story line can't be addressed for a while, but it does provide an interesting lens with which to view the upcoming, perhaps fleeting, edge-computing opportunity.
— Phil Harvey, US News Editor, Light Reading