Scaling for 5G: From Data Centers to the Edge

It’s tempting to think of fifth-generation wireless (5G) as just an incremental improvement. 5G is the number that comes after 4G/LTE after all, but the impacts promise to be epic. 5G networks will reach speeds as high 20 Gbits per second, support 1 million devices per square kilometer, and provide 1 msec latency, unleashing the age of IoT. Everything will be impacted by 5G from high-performance cloud data centers to core and access networks to edge services and smart devices.

Unleashing innovation

Accenture calculates that 5G will add $500 billion to US GDP annually(1) enabling new industries and revitalizing old ones. New applications will include autonomous vehicles, precision agriculture, and immersive entertainment. Fast, reliable communication with guaranteed quality-of-service (QoS) promise usher in new applications such as connected ambulances, robotic surgery, and widespread use of drones and automated carts for autonomous delivery applications.

Re-thinking distributed application services

In addition to new application areas, 5G will also affect existing applications and services. For applications in HPC and analytics, network capacity has historically placed an upper boundary on computing and data handling requirements. For example, an HPC application can only collect so much remote sensor data over a slow network, and a ridesharing app can only call an AI prediction service so many times per minute. With 5G networks, these constraints will go out the window, and the amount of data to be collected, processed, and analyzed will soar.

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(1) How the U.S. wireless industry can drive future economic value –

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