BACKGROUND

FRONTHAUL MULTIPLEXER

A Compact COM Express Module Enabled Fronthaul Multiplexer to Elevate Wireless Networks

Background

As the adoption of fronthaul technology has accelerated more and more in recent years with the increasing demand of C-RAN (Cloud Radio Access Network) and 5G implementations, the fronthaul network configurations and system equipment, as well as their adaptability, are pivotal to achieve the optimized balance of latency, reliability and throughput demands of ever-emerging, advanced applications and use cases on wireless networks.

Portwell recently collaborated with a networking equipment manufacturing partner in Asia to develop a next-gen fronthaul multiplexer (FHM) for 5G telecommunications industry deployed across Asia, Europe, and North America. This solution supports higher transmission capacity compared to the previous-generation fronthaul multiplexers. Its wireless RU (Radio Unit) and DU (Distributed Unit) have been upgraded from a one-to-one to one-to-many configuration that significantly reduces the cost of wireless RUs and the hurdle of increased network traffic, thereby advancing O-RAN (Open Radio Access Network) development, and accelerating the deployment and development of more efficient wireless networks.

Challenges

In response to more potentially unstable operational conditions, and hidden yet seemingly imminent environmental crises caused by severe weather situations, for example, the deployed fronthaul multiplexer must be built to deliver exceptional reliability, stability, and secured signal conversion capabilities to ensure smooth and stable data transmission between base station antennas and midpoints. Additionally, the solution is required to undergo testing and certification processes to obtain multiple regulatory certifications, and to comply with safety policies in various countries.

Project Requirements

Dynamic Environmental Adaptation: As the base station is set up in enclosed and potentially stuffy indoor spaces, the system must operate reliably in environments with temperatures that can reach up to 50°C. Therefore, the system requires the embedded computing mainboards and RAM/SSD components to be capable of operating within a wide temperature range of -40°C to 85°C. Moreover, for more effective heat dissipation, the system design and configuration should also include cooling fans in the chassis enclosure.

Country-Specific Regulatory Certifications: To meet local requirements and regulations in various regions like EMEA, the Americas, and APAC, product certifications such as CE, FCC, UL, CCC, EMC, and more, are necessary to ensure compliance with country- and/or GeoRegion-specific legal, commercial and safety usage regulations.

Customized Design and Integration Services: Hardware and software customization support and services are required for this project. Hardware design requires sufficient computer memory capacity to enable the partner’s developed applications to control and distribute signals, along with high-speed solid-state drives for efficient data transmission. On the software aspect, customized BIOS support for secure boot and channel conversion of integrated circuit buses is essential. Furthermore, the development of the carrier board for this project mandates validated testing and verification to ensure functional compatibility.

Portwell Solutions

To fulfill the project requirements, including a compact form factor, cost effectiveness, low power consumption (6W~12W TDP), and wide operating temperature support (-40°C~85°C), the Portwell PCOM-B641VG, a COM Express® Type 6 Compact module featuring Intel Atom® E3900 series processors, was selected as the ideal core computing engine for building the fronthaul multiplexer solution. PCOM-B641VG, with a small footprint of 95mm x 95mm, provides a 2.4GHz boost mode, which surpasses the originally required 2.0GHz. Moreover, it supports multiple I/O expansion flexibility with interfaces including 4x PCIe 2.0 x1, 3x USB 3.0, 8x USB 2.0, and 2x SATA III. Not only does the hardware specification meet the design requirements for this fronthaul multiplexer, but PCOM-B641VG has also obtained multiple certifications, such as CE, FCC, UL, CCC, and EMC, ensuring compliance with safety, security, and environmental protection standards in different nations.

In addition to the optimized computing hardware solution, Portwell assisted in verifying the mainboard compatibility, helping our partner enhance system stability while saving development resources. Equally as important strategically, Portwell provided top-notch professional engineering expertise and services for product design, BIOS, embedded controller (EC), and software development. This includes technical and project consultation support to create bespoke solutions that meet application-specific needs.

About Portwell

Founded in 1993, Portwell has accumulated over 30 years of diverse industry experience. The company thrives on competitive advantages, including a leading vision into market trends, innovative research and development capabilities, superior product quality, professional technical expertise, and efficient logistics and shipping processes, all of which empower us to deliver comprehensive solutions with a faster time-to-market edge. Portwell values listening to customer needs and market feedback. By combining these cross-industry insights with our experience, expertise, and creativity, we are committed to be the most trusted partner and a leading brand in the industrial and embedded computing solutions industry.

Prodcuts

  • Intel® Atom® Apollo Lake E3900 series processors
  • DDR3L SO-DIMM up to 16GB 1866 MT/s
  • Multiple Displays VGA, LVDS/eDP, DP, HDMI®
  • Support Industrial temperture -40°C to 85°C
  • Support low power consumption(6 to 12W), TPM 2.0
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