Intel Ireland teams up with Connect researchers to boost 5G tech

8 Oct 2021

From left: Dr Frank Slyne, Prof Marco Ruffini, Dr Sandip Das and Dr Robin Giller. Image: Paul Sharp

The €600,000 partnership between the Connect research centre and Intel’s R&D team will explore 5G optical networks.

A new research agreement between Intel Ireland and Connect will develop low-cost fibre-optic technology to boost 5G networks.

Scientists from Connect, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centre for future networks and communications based at Trinity College Dublin, will work with Intel’s R&D team to develop passive optical networks (PONs) for use in mobile tech.

Future Human

This could support applications such as high-speed mobile streaming, augmented reality and autonomous driving.

While PONs are already widely used to provide fibre broadband to homes in Ireland, the €600,000 two-year research partnership will enable scientists to achieve the low latency and flexibility needed for 5G and eventually 6G.

“This collaboration has huge potential for tackling a central challenge facing the development of future communication networks,” Prof Marco Ruffini, principal investigator at Connect, said.

“How do we provide low-cost ubiquitous fibre connectivity to the large number of 5G small cells and edge computing nodes so that the ambition of a fully connected society can be realised?”

Ruffini said the project will use Connect’s Open Ireland research infrastructure, funded by SFI, to provide the physical network to test the technology in a live outdoor environment as well as in a traditional lab setting.

Industry-academia partnerships ‘critical’

Intel’s R&D team in Shannon, Co Clare, has already built a virtual PON platform with Connect scientists to test new technologies that can speed up network-related functions on servers.

“Recently our team successfully extended the PON architecture to include support for mesh traffic patterns, which is a key step towards integration of wireless and edge computing nodes,” Ruffini said.

Connect executive director Dr Pat Kelly added that the work addresses a complex real-world challenge facing future communications networks by combining Intel’s “innovative approach” with the deep research knowledge of the Connect team.

“Research partnerships between industry and academia are playing a critical role in the development of solutions for the real-world challenges facing the development of our next-generation networks.”

A July report by GlobalData predicted that there will be 3.9bn 5G subscriptions worldwide by 2026, accounting for approximately 35pc of mobile subscriptions with revenues of more than $600bn.

Intel has been making significant investments in Ireland. Last month, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger also said that Ireland was on the shortlist for billions of euros of investment by the company in its European manufacturing capacity.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com