Report: Power-efficient servers are the key to fully realized and environmentally sound 5G

The 5G services ecosystem needs to combine operational efficiencies with energy savings to see the full potential of 5G and hit net-zero commitments, according to the conclusions of a new report.

Efficiency and sustainability innovations should be sought out at every layer, according to the latest Vanguard report from 451 Research, with CPU technology pitched as the first place to start. 

The report, written by 451’s research director Brian Partridge, revealed that sustainability goals are rapidly driving the feature requirements of infrastructure in network core and edge systems. 

“The 5G services ecosystem is hungry for new sources of revenue and operational efficiencies to set a path to a positive return on investment on the billions already spent and the billions more yet to be spent,” Partridge wrote in the report.

As many in the industry will suggest, the true benefits of 5G are still waiting to be discovered. 

The first phase of 5G was largely consumer-focused and brought only ‘mixed results’, generally pulling in little impact on top-line revenues.

The next chapter in that story, however, should see the technology fully realized with full density, greater coverage, and the advancement of edge locations.

This should give operators a dynamic and flexible platform to innovate new services and partner opportunities, all while they reap the benefits of operational efficiencies through automation and sustainability capabilities. 

A key area of improvement for many that took part in the report was alternative x86 servers. 

For user plane functions at the network edge, x86 servers are the default, but 66% indicated in the report that they would be willing to consider an alternative x86 platform versus an incumbent provider to support network core and edge workloads. The number-one reason cited for this is the chance to find better performance and energy efficiency gains.


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The survey even noted that even among those unwilling to consider changing their x86 supplier, efficiency still factored into the selection. 

This is because they were hopeful that the default or ‘incumbent’ providers would eventually catch up with technology to match the alternative suppliers’ energy performance. 

Companies like AMD can be classed as one of the alternatives, with its processor product portfolio – its EPYC processors – for example, being used to power some of the world’s most energy-efficient x86 servers. 

The real appeal here is that it can meet application performance demands but with fewer physical servers than its competitors. 

The result is a smaller data center footprint, lower hardware expenditure, reduced cooling requirements, and savings on network costs. 

EPYC is built to work in cloud-native environments, according to AMD, which is a crucial element to 5G performance. 

The high core counts and compute density in the product line also enable companies to scale up microservices, virtualization, input and output performance, and broad memory bandwidth. 


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