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Vodafone reveals dedicated silicon lab to boost Open RAN plans

Vodafone is partnering with over twenty chip suppliers to set up an innovation lab in Malaga, Spain as it continues its Open RAN push. Malaga is mostly known as a beach holiday and party town but it is also an R&D center for Vodafone. Now Vodaphone and the likes of Intel, ARM, Qualcomm will be working there to create dedicated chips for open radio access networks.

Vodafone is a vocal backer of Open RAN, which aims to split off software from hardware at the network edge, bringing new providers and therefore innovation to the radio edge as 5G begins to be rolled out across the globe. This new lab is part of Vodafone’s plan to build an Open RAN ecosystem in Europe. The mobile operator even claims to be one of the continent’s largest software companies.

Vodafone’s R&D Center in Malaga, Spain
Source: Vodafone

Many of the chip makers in the project already have partnerships with Vodafone, but the company has spoken about the urgent need to build a 5G chip ecosystem, and finding a range of dedicated silicon vendors is critical to its Open RAN ambitions.

An Open RAN motherboard displayed at Vodafone’s launch event
Source: Vodafone

The Open RAN is set to be one of the key battlegrounds in the struggle for chip dominance at the edge. Intel starts off with a big advantage of dominance in the cloud, but at the RAN edge where power consumption is of prime importance, ARM’s lightweight chips are popular and widely used by the likes of Huawei.

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