In a strategic partnership announced on Wednesday, Ubiquisys will incorporate Intel's Atom or Xeon processors into the new small cells, which are powered by baseband chipsets from Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN). (See TI Muscles In on Small Cells and TI, Ubiquisys Do Small Cells.)
According to Ubiquisys CTO Will Franks, Intel brings an ecosystem of applications, powerful computing power and storage capabilities to the small cells, which are designed for outdoor or indoor public hot spots.
Why do 3G or LTE small cells need such computing power? The idea is that by processing more content and applications locally -- that is, closer to the users in the radio access network (RAN) -- that will help operators to manage data traffic on their networks.
For example, local content can be cached in the small cells with Intel's storage capability. That would reduce the amount of data that needs to be sent across the network, which should help operators save on backhaul transport costs. Ubiquisys is looking to store a minimum of 100GB of data in a small cell.
Reference designs will be available to equipment manufacturers in 2012.
Why this matters
This partnership exemplifies a new technology development aimed at helping mobile operators cope with surging data traffic on their networks, whether they are 3G operators needing capacity relief now or LTE operators looking to get the most out of their new network investments. It is also further evidence of the radical changes that are underway in RAN architectures. (See MWC 2011: The End of the RAN as We Know It? )
Catch up on small cells and changes in the RAN here:
- Ericsson's Small Cells Come Up for AIR
- AlcaLu: We're Killing the Base Station
- China Mobile Sees the Light(Radio)
- Study: Small Cells to Dominate 4G
- Infonetics: Still Early in the Game for LTE Small Cells
- Honey, I Shrunk the Femto
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile