The Importance of Mobile Edge Computing in 5G Network Development

As the leader of “new infrastructure”, 5G has attracted great attention from all walks of life. 5G can provide peak rates of up to 10Gbps, better mobile performance, millisecond-level latency, and ultra-high-density connections. In theory, the speed of 5G can reach more than 10 times that of 4G. Benefiting from such high network speed, 5G will play a major role in three major application scenarios including enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), ultra-reliable low-latency communication (uRLLC) and massive massive connection (mMTC) in the future.

At present, applications such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things are rapidly implemented, which makes the amount of data on the network increase exponentially. How to realize the interaction, storage, and analysis of massive data and give full play to the true value of data is a new challenge in the 5G era. 5G will also promote the evolution of cloud computing from centralized to distributed. Since 5G will allow a large number of applications to be processed at the edge of the network, the demand for Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) has exploded.

What is mobile edge computing?

Mobile edge computing (MEC) first emerged in 2013 on a computing platform co-launched by IBM and Nokia Siemens. After that, major telecommunications standards organizations began to promote the standardization of mobile edge computing. According to the definition of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), mobile edge computing focuses on providing IT service environments and cloud computing capabilities at the edge of the mobile network, emphasizing closeness to mobile users to reduce network operation and service delivery delays.

Figure 1 Intel’s definition of the overall architecture of mobile edge computing

(Image source: Intel, Research and Development Department of CITIC Securities)

According to Intel’s definition of the overall architecture of mobile edge computing, mobile edge computing is located between wireless access points and wired networks. Traditional wireless access networks have the conditions for service localization and close-proximity deployment, thus providing high bandwidth and low time. At the same time, the service plane sinks to form a localized deployment, which can effectively reduce the network backhaul bandwidth requirements and network load. Because mobile edge computing provides application programming interfaces (APIs) and opens basic network capabilities to third parties, the network can be customized and interacted on demand according to the business needs of third parties. first step.

Compared with cloud computing, edge computing has been tepid since the concept was born. Why has it become so important in the 5G era?

The technical characteristics of MEC coincide with the characteristics of 5G network

The technical characteristics of mobile edge computing are mainly reflected in proximity, low latency, high bandwidth and location awareness.

(1) Proximity: Since the mobile edge computing servers are arranged very close to the information source, edge computing is particularly suitable for capturing and analyzing key information in big data. In addition, edge computing can also directly access devices, so it is easy to directly derive specific business application.

(2) Low latency: Since the mobile edge computing service is close to the terminal device or runs directly on the terminal device, the delay is greatly reduced. This allows for more rapid feedback, while also improving the user experience, greatly reducing congestion that can occur in other parts of the network.

(3) High bandwidth: Because the mobile edge computing server is close to the information source, simple data processing can be performed locally, and it is not necessary to upload all data or information to the cloud, which will reduce the transmission pressure of the core network, reduce network congestion, and reduce network speed. will also be greatly increased.

(4) Location awareness: When the network edge is part of a wireless network, whether WiFi or cellular, local services can utilize relatively little information to determine the specific location of each connected device.

It can be seen that edge computing can be close to the side of the object or data source, and the network processing power and computing position can be lowered to the user edge, which coincides with the characteristics of 5G network.

In recent years, the MEC industry environment has gradually improved. Standardization organizations, operators, equipment vendors, and Internet manufacturers are all promoting the process of the entire MEC industry. Especially after the commercial use of 5G, MEC has become one of its key technologies.

MEC can meet 5G low latency requirements

The application scenario of 5G “low power consumption and large connection” requires the ability to provide support for over 100 billion network connections and meet the requirements of 1 million/km2 connection density indicators. Under the requirements of such massive data and high connection density indicators, how to It is very important to ensure low latency and low power consumption. To achieve low latency and low power consumption, on the one hand, it is necessary to greatly reduce the air interface transmission delay, and on the other hand, it is necessary to reduce the number of forwarding nodes as much as possible to shorten the “distance” between the source and the destination node.

However, the current mobile technology does not fully optimize the delay. LTE technology can increase the air interface throughput rate by 10 times, but can only optimize the end-to-end delay by 3 times. The reason is that after the air interface efficiency is greatly improved, the network architecture is not fully optimized and becomes the bottleneck of service delay. Although the LTE network implements a 2-hop flat structure, the distance from the base station to the core network is often hundreds of kilometers. There are multiple convergence and forwarding devices, coupled with unpredictable congestion and jitter, and it is impossible to guarantee low latency.

Mobile edge computing is deployed on the mobile edge, which will effectively integrate the wireless network and Internet technologies, and add computing, storage, processing and other functions on the wireless network side, build a mobile edge cloud, and provide information technology service environment and cloud computing capabilities . Since application services and content are deployed at the mobile edge, forwarding and processing time in data transmission can be reduced, end-to-end latency can be reduced, low latency requirements can be met, and power consumption can be reduced.

Future and Outlook

MEC belongs to an emerging technology and market, and there are many undeveloped business models waiting for all parties to jointly innovate and create. In my country, 5G base stations will usher in a real large-scale construction in 2020, and edge computing has just started, but with the outbreak of 5G, its prospects are also immeasurable.

In the 5G era, the application of MEC will extend to transportation systems, intelligent driving, real-time haptic control, augmented reality and other fields. At the same time, the deployment of the new MEC industry standard and MEC platform will also provide a new type of network ecosystem and value chain. The seamless integration of MEC-based mobile networks and mobile applications will bring innovation to network services and services. Endless possibilities.

(Organized from the Internet)

(Mu Yanxia, ​​Information Service Department)

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