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Virtualisation will change telecoms, if…

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The hype around software-defined networking and network function virtualisation is growing in the telecoms industry, but they remain immature and there is a long way to go before they will be deployed at scale and transform the industry, says MARK TINKA, Head of Engineering at SEACOM.

The hope is that these technologies will enable service providers and network operators to drive down capital expenditure, simplify configuration and maintenance, and improve the agility of their networks.

However, as promising as these technologies are, they remain immature and there is a long way to go before they will be deployed at scale and transform the industry. A sign of their immaturity, perhaps, is the fact that the two terms mean different things to different people, and are sometimes even used interchangeably. The meanings of the terms have also evolved over the past five years.

When SDN first appeared on the scene, it was positioned as a solution for scaling the network while making it less expensive to operate, by decoupling the control and data planes. The industry has since had a reality check and realises that this kind of separation of roles is not easily implemented in the manner envisaged in the SDN standards of 2012.

Now, however, SDN has spawned a number of other initiatives geared toward automating networks, making them more reliable, more resilient, more self-healing, and above all, cheaper to operate. While several network operators have pursued these ends for years, they have done each in isolation using proprietary technology.

What the industry now aims to accomplish with SDN and the associated technologies, is to standardise and harmonise the protocols, procedures, toolsets and technologies that network operators implement to automate their operations. This way, it does not matter what solution is purchased—its various elements will interoperate smoothly.

NFV is more straightforward, and network operators have been employing NFV technologies successfully for some time now. The premise with NFV is – certain functions that purpose-built hardware used to perform, can now be deployed on general-purpose hardware, like an off-the-shelf server. This lowers barriers to entry and costs which makes those technologies more accessible to more users.

SEACOM is closely following the development of these technologies to ensure the new features are integrated into our network as-and-when appropriate, to the benefit of our customers. As a first step, we have deployed an OpenStack virtualisation environment to create a platform for the deployment of our next-generation products and services, which will be launched over the course of 2018.

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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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How Quantum computing will change … everything?

Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.

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“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”

The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential: 

  • Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts. 
  • Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand 
  • Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
  • Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials. 

Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.

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