The 5G Requirement for Data Storage

By Hubert Yoshida posted 07-16-2019 00:00


This year we have seen some of communications service providers (CSP) like ATT, China Mobile, and Telefonica begin the rollout of 5G services. 5G stands for fifth-generation cellular wireless. 5G is fundamentally different than 4G, the previous generation. 5G tops out at 10 Gbps which is 100 times the theoretical top speed of 4G.  Its network latency of 1 ms is almost 50 times lower than 4G; and it will support 1 million devices per sq km vs 2000 for 4G, with 99.999% availability of the network. 5G will generate data at an unprecedented velocity and volume and fuel a wide range of data-driven services and digital business models.


5G connectivity will provide seamless connectivity to sensors in virtually everything from heavy machinery to wearables for prescriptive maintenance, fraud detection, and security. Its ability to support a massive number of devices in a small area will enable smarter cities, factories, utilities, and smart agriculture. Ultra-reliable, low latency communications, will transform industries like critical infrastructure, autonomous vehicles, and real time healthcare. It will make it possible for surgeons to perform remote life-saving surgeries over 5G networks

5G is expected to enable billions of connected devices powering IoT. estimates that there will be 75.44 billion connected devices by 2025, generating tons of data. While many applications like smart homes will be connected to the cloud, other applications that require real-time analysis and control of IoT devices will generate huge amounts of data that will be too large to transport, store, and analyze in the cloud in time to be useful. This demand for high volume, real time processing, can only be met by processing on the edge. Real time 5G IoT applications will require systems sitting on the edge, processing data and connected to backend repositories in the enterprise or cloud.

This requires two types of storage systems, one for the edge and one for the backend repositories.

On the edge, the storage system will need to be a low-cost, high performance storage systems that can manage very high volumes of data. In my previous post I described what Telefonica calls their 5G Storage use case. This 5G storage is direct attached storage that is managed by Hitachi Content Platform Anywhere Edge. The direct attached storage reduces, latency and cost, while the Hitachi Content Platform Edge provides a bottomless virtual storage capacity for the local file system.

For the backend repository, you can connect to a cloud if you can afford the latency of connecting to the cloud. If you cannot afford the latency you will need to connect to a scalable high performance storage system that can handle the massive amount of data that will be generated by 5G applications. The ingest or transfer of data from the edge to the core will require a high performance, storage system with scalable connectivity and bandwidth. Low latency solid state devices and NVMe will provide optimum performance. Capacities will need to scale to multiple petabytes with dedupe, compression and automated tiering to reduce cost. A lot of the data management functions within the storage controllers should be offloaded to FPGAs to reduce controller latencies and cost. Storage virtualization should be available to ensure seamless migration for large data stores.

The data demands, driven by 5G’s connected solutions, will require the need for high performance, high end storage systems.5G will be the catalyst for IoT solutions that will use data, networks, analytics, and reporting to create a smarter, healthier, safer society.

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