The pressure never ends for network operators to significantly improve network capacity and coverage with limited available spectrum and capital expenditure (CAPEX) while simultaneously delivering 4K video and terabytes of other high-value content to consumers. With the rapid growth of IoT nodes, networks must securely accommodate these interfaces with minimal energy consumption while reducing operating expenditure (OPEX). Operators are also being pushed to reduce the physical and carbon footprints of their cellular infrastructure and wireline access networks.
These new market realities are making things more difficult for vendors who design communication equipment products. Today’s challenges vary in complexity, from reducing power while delivering the right transceiver rates in price-sensitive 10G wireline access and aggregations, to accommodating the special requirements of IoT gateways and C-RAN/RRH architectures as well as small-cell networks.
System architects and engineering managers must turn to suppliers that can help them create more power-efficient interfaces in smaller form factors with best-in-class security, all provided in a cost-optimized, flexible solution.
So what’s the answer? One key part of the puzzle is the need for a redefined category of mid-range field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs)—devices that are purpose-built and specifically designed to reduce the cost, power, and size for communication applications.
New Challenges Require New Solutions
The requirements that must be satisfied by next-generation communications equipment vendors can be broken down into two categories: capital/operating demands and additional interface requirements (Table 1). Today’s mid-range FPGA architectures address these needs in multiple important ways.