5G User Plane Function Acceleration

The 3GPP 5G specifications have been evolving in stages into the CUPS (control and user plane separation) architecture, which is fundamental for 5G, and one of its primary components is the User Plane Function (UPF). Ethernity’s 5G UPF Acceleration solution uses its patented ENET Flow Processor technology and standard DPDK APIs to offload the data plane to FPGA and thereby accelerate the UPF and the entire 5G network.

Ethernity’s FPGA-based ACE-NIC100 SmartNIC easily integrates with third-party UPF software networking elements from any vendor to fully offload the user plane data, releasing CPU cores, enhancing scalability, assuring deterministic performance, and providing future-ready programmability.

Ethernity’s 5G UPF Acceleration solution assures carrier-grade UPF performance at an extremely competitive price. The solution supports the disaggregation approach by enabling the UPF to be placed at the network edge closer to end user locations, thereby achieving better performance, reducing networking overhead, and lowering costs. The solution’s small footprint and low power requirements are also optimal for network edge deployment.

The solution supports 5G Quality of Experience (QoE), including high bandwidth, low latency, dense connectivity, and multitenancy. It enables an easily programmable data path that can quickly adapt to a service provider’s unique requirements and evolve with the ever-changing architectural requirements of the mobile market.

The ENET data path also supports network slicing with extensive multitenant control and with service partitioning and isolation features.

Ethernity’s Accelerated 5G VPP/UPF Solution

Ethernity now offers 5G UPF based on the Virtual Packet Processing open source project offloaded to its FPGA-based ACE-NIC100 SmartNIC, thereby accelerating 5G packet processing and providing high bandwidth and low latency while saving CPU cores. The solution uses UPF software components for packet processing and control that makes use of open source VPP to enable high flexibility in 5G networking. The integration uses industry-standard Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) APIs to offload VPP/UPF to the ACE-NIC100.

This offering follows the trend of network disaggregation, in which service providers are seeking to complement and enhance their 5G networks by deploying Open UPF, in combination with edge connectivity. Several carriers and vendors have already decided to move their UPF to the edge, usually by choosing FPGA SmartNICs for acceleration. With the ACE-NIC100’s small footprint and low power dissipation, Ethernity’s 5G UPF Acceleration solution is truly optimized for edge deployment, being fully containerized and using the VPP data plane. This allows service providers to boost performance, reduce networking overhead, and lower Total Cost of Ownership, as well as co-locate the UPF with other services.

To view the initial open source VPP code upon which the Ethernity 5G UPF offering is based, click here.