The Edge

Intel Cooks Up Recipes to Speed uCPE Adoption

AUSTIN, Texas -- Big Communications Event -- Intel announced today that it is looking to speed and broaden the adoption of universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) by communications service providers. The chip giant is calling this effort Intel Select Solutions; the company will provide a new uCPE hardware reference design, in addition to providing verified "recipes" that will make adding and integration applications a smooth, easy process.

"What Intel Select Solutions for uCPE aims to do is provide a solution for both comms service providers and enterprises to be able to meet their evolving network needs, and be able to roll out platforms and services in a much quicker fashion," Dan Rodriguez, Intel's Network Platforms Group general manager, told Light Reading.

Rodriguez noted that Intel's uCPE solution is "pre-configured hardware as well as software, so we can ensure that it meets the needs of the underlying software and workloads expected to be running on that platform."

The uCPE is a sort of Swiss Army Knife for enterprise networking. It is typically a generic network appliance that can be provisioned with whatever virtualized network functions an enterprise office needs (e.g., firewalls, routing, enterprise software applications, WiFi and SD-WAN). It can be located at a customer premises, in a data center or an edge location and is usually sold and managed by a service provider, though some large enterprises manage their own.

For OEMs, Rodriguez said Intel Select Solutions will speed their time to market. For service providers, they can rest easier knowing that uCPE solutions from Intel's recipes will meet the needs of their network. It also solves an operations headache for them by reducing the number of devices in their network and centralizing the management of enterprise networking functions.

Rodriguez announced Intel Select Solutions during his keynote today here at the Big Communications Event (BCE) event. What's more, he revealed that Advantech, Lanner, Premier, Silicom and Supermicro are all building uCPE devices based on Intel Select Solutions and those should be hitting the market starting in the second half of 2018.

In his report, "Universal CPE: The Ultimate CPE Solution?", Heavy Reading's Simon Stanley notes that the uCPE market is growing quickly as service providers take advantage of the cost savings that uCPE offers. Though dominant in the space, Stanley points out that Intel is finding some competition, with some uCPE designs preferring ARM-based processors such as those offered by from Marvell and NXP.

Last year at a BCE pre-conference workshop, AT&T became a huge catalyst for uCPE as it worked to get a specification approved for five types of uCPE models by the Open Compute Project (OCP) Telco Project. Stanley's report notes that most uCPE platforms match the broad outline of these five models, "but the implementation varies significantly with different processors and numbers of cores," so Intel's timing here is spot on as it looks to narrow the field of options and make the menu of choices easier to digest.

— Phil Harvey, US News Editor, Light Reading

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