The Future Is Symmetrical with Full Duplex DOCSIS

This past weekend, while I was attending one of the world’s biggest auto racing events in my hometown of Indianapolis, I couldn’t help but think about the similarities between the race and what I do at Intel. When cars are flying around the track, speed and reliability are absolutely critical. But what sets the winning drivers and teams apart is their intense dedication to continuous improvement that leads to better, more efficient ways of doing things, whether it’s faster pit stops or innovating next-gen technology. And I feel like we at Intel are achieving just that for cable broadband.

Nielsen’s Law of Internet Bandwidth states that users’ bandwidth increases 50 percent each year, and, as a result, consumers are seeing continuous improvements in cable bandwidth. These faster speeds support the many smart, connected devices we now have in our homes and enable higher-quality connected experiences — from virtual reality to immersive PC gaming to 4K streaming and more. In fact, the number of connected devices per home is expected to grow to more than 35 by the year 2020. While this is exciting for consumers, it raises several questions for our industry: What does this mean for network infrastructure? And how do we expand its capacity to accommodate increased demand, without disrupting service, yet still provide great experiences?

The current generation of Ultra DOCSIS 3.0 solutions (such as those based on the Intel Puma 6 SoC) ushered in the first generation of 1 Gbps hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) cable networks. The most recent DOCSIS technology (DOCSIS 3.1), developed by Intel in collaboration with its partners, paves the way to multigigabit speeds, meaning it can compete with fiber alternatives. Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 (FDX) is the next step in evolutionary technology advancement that enables simultaneous gigabit upstream and multigigabit downstream, all over the same frequency spectrum.

Ready for prime time

Although not a new idea, full-duplex communication (the transmission and reception of signals at the same frequency at the same time) is a hot topic because of advances in signal processing that now allow actual commercial deployment of Full Duplex DOCSIS networks. If you’re curious to know more about how Full Duplex DOCSIS works and what its key ingredients are, you can download this new Intel white paper here.

Intel and Cisco gave the industry its first live demonstration of Full Duplex DOCSIS, from cloud to client, at ANGA COM 2017. The specification, which Intel has played a leading role in developing, showed conference attendees how it enables service providers to offer higher speed symmetrical bandwidth. This creates the best experience possible for customers while lowering the total cost of ownership.

Exceeding expectations with technology

Since their first generation, Intel Puma SoCs have delivered DOCSIS technology that drives the advancement of Nielsen’s Law with lower cost compared to new fiber construction costs. Our next generation of Intel Puma SoCs will do the same, and Intel’s Full Duplex DOCSIS innovations will enable cable providers to deliver multigigabit speeds to tens of millions of homes across the country.

And the push for innovation doesn’t stop there. Intel is also investing in transforming networks as described recently by Dan Rodriguez, Intel VP of communications infrastructure, in a blog post about how network function virtualization (NFV), including cable access network workloads, will run on virtual machines.

We will continue to support cable operators with faster speeds and cost-effective solutions to roll out multigigabit symmetrical services through the latest Intel innovations: Intel Puma SoCs, FPGAs and Intel Xeon processors. With Full Duplex DOCSIS, the future is symmetrical and full of new, smart and connected experiences.

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