Meta’s Evenstar is transitioning to OCP to speed up open RAN adoption

  • Meta broadcasts its IP for evening stara program to accelerate the adoption of open RAN technologies, viz Open Compute Project (OCP).
  • Meta will contribute Evenstar’s radio design to OCP, providing the telecom industry with their first open white-box radio solution.
  • The TIP Open RAN community will use the Evenstar radio reference designs to drive the productization, validation and commercialization of new Open RAN hardware variants.
  • The OCP community will continue to evolve Evenstar with the needs of the broader ecosystem in mind and develop a multi-vendor supply chain.

For the past three years, meta-engineers have been working on it together with our ecosystem partners evening star, a collaborative effort to accelerate the deployment of open radio access networks (RANs) through simplified, flexible and efficient RAN technologies. By promoting open source standards, we help deliver innovative wireless products and lower the total cost of ownership for operators.

Now that the project is mature enough for the broader telecom community to fully benefit from, we are officially opening Evenstar’s design to the broader open RAN community. However, we will continue our collaboration with OCP to support our partner ecosystem in developing and deploying new open RAN solutions for the industry. Earlier this year we deployed Open M-Plane, Evenstar’s software component for configuring and managing RANs, as part of our collaboration at the Linux Foundation LF connectivity Project.

“OCP is very pleased to provide the hardware specification along with the firmware [Evenstar], a fully open RAN radio,” said Bijan Nowroozi, CTO of the Open Compute Project Foundation. “It’s an absolute milestone on the road to a truly open RAN…OCP strives to foster a community where everyone can contribute, everyone can improve, and everyone can innovate.”

Contribution of the Evenstar theme to the open RAN community

Evenstar began by bringing together a number of industry players to work towards the common goal of building a stable, open and interoperable infrastructure supply chain for RAN. Since then we have made significant progress in building a modular reference design for a disaggregated radio unit platform and now share this with OCP as the base hardware specification to enable the ecosystem to build modularized and efficient radio unit platforms.

“One of the most important elements of the specification is an advanced 4T4R MIMO transceiver with a power of 40W [per] power of RF power and a highly modular design that is useful in real-world use cases,” said Nowroozi. “The hardware specification addresses deployment challenges by reducing the total number of SKUs required for global availability.”

Evenstar’s design is based on several novel solutions that address the electrical and mechanical design challenges of the high-performance dual-band radios emerging in the open RAN ecosystem. Evenstar’s firmware, which also contributed to OCP and was made available as an open source solution, handles complex signal processing algorithms such as digital pre-distortion (DPD) and crest factor reduction (CFR).

The architecture of the Evenstar radio unit was designed by Meta with modularity in mind. Modularity is an important disaggregation principle, allowing mixing and matching of radio unit components (power amplifiers, power supplies, etc.) from different suppliers and providing flexibility in rebanding for a range of radio units.

The design is based on off-the-shelf discrete components, which is said to result in lower BOM costs, with the added benefit that each Power Amplifier Module (PAM) can be independently controlled for optimized performance savings and increased radio unit efficiency.

All modules were individually designed, manufactured and tested in the laboratory for their functionality. This hardware design can support the commercial manufacture of a range of radio units, with the platform anchoring a modular concept for assembling power amplifiers (PAs), radio silicon and other components from a world-class supply chain. We assume that the modular structure based on open interfaces will lead to faster innovations and thereby reduce acceptance barriers.

In addition to the base hardware specification and firmware, the accesses a comprehensive set of design files and test scripts OCP websiteincluding:

  1. Power Amplifier Modules (PAMs)
  2. Power Supply Unit (PSU)
  3. Digital control module (board)
  4. Resonant cavity duplexer filter module
  5. mechanical construction
  6. DPD firmware
  7. CFR firmware
  8. Test Automation Scripts (including Massive MIMO)

Accelerating the commercialization of Open RAN

Evenstar will be the industry’s first open white box radio solution as the industry continues to pave the way for further adoption of open RAN technologies.

Jabil, a provider of manufacturing solutions, was a key partner in the Evenstar program. It took the lead in the development and production of modular and standards-based radio units based on operator-specified requirements. We have worked closely with Jabil to scale our contribution and help commercialize the technologies that will drive global adoption. Jabil has been a trusted manufacturing partner for 5G radios for more than two decades, providing world-class execution to the telecom industry.

Vodafone has also been a strong supporter and key contributor to Evenstar and open RAN technologies as previously announced plans to have at least 2,500 open RAN sites in rural areas across the UK by 2027. Having met the requirements and supported the Evenstar radio development program with Jabil, Vodafone is now finalizing plans to bring the first devices into the lab for testing and validation before entering the field trial phase. With the first open RAN locations already available in the South West of England, we are delighted to see Vodafone paving the way for disaggregated RAN solutions across the network.

“This important contribution from Meta will give the open RAN ecosystem the right incentive and encouragement to scale the radio portfolio in the industry,” said Yago Tenorio, Vodafone Grantee and Director of Network Architecture and TIP Chair. “We look forward to how this contribution will enable some of the best wireless solutions available for forthcoming open RAN deployments.”

Continuation of our cooperation with OCP

Evenstar’s open source radio reference design is an exciting next step towards a healthy, resilient and sustainable ecosystem for open RAN infrastructure offerings. We expect field trials and scaled deployments for open RAN to accelerate significantly in 2023. We believe this contribution to the ecosystem will give radio supply partners a significant time-to-market advantage as they develop products that improve cost, size, and power efficiencies for RAN components.

We look forward to seeing this reference design move beyond specifications into a deployable radio platform that will accelerate the adoption of the technology into networks as operators roll out their open RAN solutions.

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