5G-ready ruggedized server from Supermicro is a "datacenter on a pole"

The customizable servers designed for edge computing can be deployed directly on cellular towers.

Hardware manufacturer Supermicro Computing has introduced a cell tower-mounted server enclosure designed to be a "datacenter on a pole" for edge computing needs. The enclosure is IP65 rated and designed to be highly configurable for various edge computing uses. Supermicro lists 5G RAN, AI inferencing, data storage, and media streaming capabilities as only some of the potential uses of its new enclosure, which Supermicro CEO Charles Liang calls a "SuperServer." 

Like Supermicro's other servers, the SuperServer is built on its Building Block Solutions, which allow a high degree of processor and memory combinations. 

The hardware inside the SuperServer runs on an Intel Xeon D or 2nd Gen Intel Xeon processor and contains three PCI-E slots. Supermicro said it designed the new system to "take advantage of the latest GPU and FPGA acceleration … critical for real-time Edge AI inferencing via GPU cards." 

Multiple storage formats are supported as well: SSD, M.2, and EDSFF form factors are all available for distributing "cached media content locally, or [storing] video surveillance and other sensitive data.

SEE: 5G: What it means for IoT (free PDF)

The SuperServer is 5G-ready and was designed in cooperation with the O-RAN Alliance, a consortium of tech companies dedicated to "industry movement to non-proprietary hardware platforms and the growing adoption of standardized system interfaces," Supermicro said.  

A radio access network (RAN) is the backbone of cellular infrastructure: It's the entire chain from your personal device to its local tower, through a radio network controller, and on to the cellular network. 

O-RAN is pushing for a 5G world that operates on an open interface that will "enable smaller vendors and operators to introduce their own services, or customize the network to suit their own unique needs," as well as "enable multi-vendor deployments, enabling a more competitive and vibrant supplier ecosystem."

O-RAN said that 5G will result in wireless networks that are increasingly complex while also running more demanding applications. Without an open interface, O-RAN argues, traditional methods of deploying, maintaining, and operating networks will become too burdensome for human IT professionals. 

An open interface, on the other hand, would let AI handle a lot of the work, creating networks that are self-driving, can learn and adapt, and would reduce operating expenses. 

The SuperServer, as far as Supermicro has designed it, is meant to be a part of O-RAN's open, intelligent 5G future. Supermicro said it has already developed reference solutions with several (unnamed) telecom operators and software stack providers, which means it may already have been found to be fully capable of its edge deployment, exposed-to-the-elements role.

Specifics about the SuperServer are lacking: There's no mention of its size, pricing, or release date. Be sure to check out Supermicro's 5G product page for more details and availability information. 

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Image: Supermicro