This week at the OCP Regional Summit 2023 in Prague that STH attended, there were a number of cool hardware platforms. One was an O-RAN concept from Nokia that was liquid-cooled and even the new Nokia Cloud RAN SmartNIC was on display. We snapped a few photos to show STH readers.
Nokia Shows Off Liquid Cooled O-RAN Concept
At the regional summit, we saw this box which looks a lot like other O-RAN boxes that we have seen, except for there being a notable difference in the nodes. This single socket (Intel Xeon Ice Lake generation) node had liquid cooling.
Single socket in this market is more common since it allows for more nodes in space-constrained areas. We even recently looked at a Supermicro ARS-210ME-FNR 2U Edge Ampere Altra Max Arm Server that was a single 2U single socket node to lower power and decreases performance variability from socket-to-socket communication. Nokia seems to be looking at the challenge of density with liquid cooling.
The liquid cooling block was made by EK. We thought this would be a big win for EK so we asked if this is a production platform, but it is still a prototype.
The short internal loops have quick disconnect connectors at the rear of the node.
This is really interesting since there is an in-chassis manifold that each node plugs into making it fully front serviceable.
Last year we did a How Liquid Cooling Servers Works with Gigabyte and CoolIT if you want to learn more about how liquid cooling works and all of the parts that go into solutions like this. We used a much higher power node than Nokia is using.
Nokia’s solution currently only cools the CPUs, so it still has fans for the other components. The goal was to cool the largest heat source to improve efficiency.
Nokia Cloud RAN SmartNIC Shown
Another new product shown was the Nokia Cloud RAN SmartNIC. This is a card designed for L1 vDU processing. The big benefit is that it can do this in-line instead of being done in a look-aside mode.
There was one in a case, but Nokia also had a new node with two cards installed.
A quick look saw that Nokia has a 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Sapphire Rapids design. Risers are cabled presumably for better PCIe Gen5 signal integrity.
Intel has been increasing its messaging in this space with 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable with vRAN Boost the Xeon EE dedicated to this market.
Overall, this was some interesting technology to see at the show. Hopefully, Nokia continues to bring hardware to OCP events so we can see what they are building as we do with other vendors. We are starting to see new generations of chips and designs moving from simply getting the 5G edge up and running phases to more refinement where companies are looking at lowering the power of running the sites. Liquid-cooling may be one step in that direction.