With 5G driving AI at the edge, ADLINK expects IoV and smart factory to forge ahead

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5G achieves a 20Gbps downlink peak data rate (20 times faster than 4G), a latency as low as 1ms (one tenth of 4G) and a connection density of one million devices per square kilometer (10 times that of 4G) with enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC) and massive machine type communications (mMTC). On top of that, it supports network slicing, which allows different levels of services to be provided based on user requirements. These advantages make 5G an enabler of cloud computing, IoT, big data analytics, AI, IoV/autonomous driving, AR/VR and a diversity of other innovative technologies or applications.

Changes in the radio access network (RAN) are a major item among what make the 4G to 5G transition different from the 3G to 4G transition, which only brought faster data transfer speeds. 5G communication has refined and separated multiple network functions to enable a more flexible network structure so that different levels of services or functions can be provided and network virtualization and slicing can be effectively implemented. Moreover, a baseband unit (BBU) is split into a centralized unit (CU) and a distributed unit (DU), which drives the miniaturization of base stations and allows the use of white-box equipment, helping telecom operators reduce capital expenditure.

Multi-access edge computing (MEC) will play an instrumental role maximizing all the above-mentioned 5G benefits. In view of this, ADLINK, with long-standing leadership in edge computing, industrial PC, data acquisition (DAQ), machine vision and motion control technologies and long-term devotion into vertical OT solutions including smart factory equipment, is actively developing MEC platforms while engaging in partnerships with AI, autonomous mobile robots (AMR), autonomous driving, automated optical inspection (AOI) and smart healthcare solution providers to jointly form a complete 5G ecosystem and expedite advances of 5G-enabled smart applications across vertical industries.

Qianqian Shao, product marketing manager of ADLINK's networking, communication and public business unit, emphasized that MEC is a critical element of 5G communication. It ensures that latency-sensitive applications such as industrial robots and self-driving vehicles can operate efficiently by performing instant data processing and analysis close to the source to allow decision-making in real time. It is no longer required to upload data to the cloud platform or data center so as to prevent risks resulting from data transmission latency and largely save network bandwidth.

Joining forces with 5G ecosystem partners to accelerate private network applications in diverse use scenarios

Featuring small footprint and wide operating temperature range, ADLINK's MEC platform is capable of supporting core computing needs within the 5G network architecture while enabling GPU and FPGA hardware acceleration. It also implements the IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol to support high-efficiency AI inferencing and clock synchronization throughout IP networks. System integrators can build applications/services to address all kinds of critical tasks on top of ADLINK's MEC platform.

Shao added that ADLINK collaborates with ecosystem partners targeting a variety of application fields by providing hardware equipment and middleware. They have jointly built multiple application-ready platforms to help enterprises bring their private network applications to reality. For example, the Robot Operating System (ROS) running on optimized MEC platforms coupled with edge AI inference and low latency 5G communication accelerates AMR development and deployment and even achieves swarm autonomy. The AMR can carry out smart logistics tasks in factories, warehouses, hospitals, retail stores, restaurants and a slew of other application scenarios.

Furthermore, leveraging its strength in edge computing and AI accelerators, ADLINK engages in close collaborations with multiple autonomous driving solution providers including autonomous driving software developer Tier IV and intelligent vehicle platform AutoCore to make use of 5G communication's low latency and massive connectivity features to develop high-performance and high-reliability autonomous driving applications.

Making use of 5G communication's high-bandwidth, low latency and massive connectivity features, ADLINK's MEC edge computing platform will also expedite the advent of fully automated and unmanned factories as it helps connect diverse processes and workstations in the factory including AI-enabled AOI, AI-based process monitoring (operator behavior detection and analysis as well as object recognition), production equipment monitoring and diagnostics as well as material transportation by AMR.

Apart from being used on 5G private networks, ADLINK's MEC platform can also be connected to public networks as MEC is needed on both types of networks but only with differences in how the platform is set up. For private networks, ADLINK's MEC platform serves as a DU to support communication access while acting as an application-ready platform. ADLINK and partners have worked together to help customers quickly build applications for specific use scenarios. For example, multiple smart factory proof-of-concept (PoC) projects in collaboration with several solution providers have been completed. For public networks, ADLINK's MEC platform also functions as a high-performance DU and provide edge computing capability. More than that, it fully supports data acquisition, transmission and processing under the premise that information security is guaranteed. ADLINK's MEC platform will accelerate the development of smart applications, bringing the futuristic scenes in sci-fi films to real life.

More information on ADLINK's MEC platform:

Qianqian Shao, product marketing manager of ADLINK's networking, communication and public business unit

Qianqian Shao, product marketing manager of ADLINK's networking, communication and public business unit