To enhance the potential of robotic manufacturing, virtual reality, augmented reality and autonomous cars, AT&T has embarked on an effort to reinvent the cloud. The telecommunications giant is doing this through a model known as edge computing which basically involves moving the crunching of the data to the cloud from the device.
This will require a network which enjoys extremely low latency and this is something that 5G can provide. With the next-generation applications such as AR/VR and self-driving cars expected to require huge amounts of computation resources, one of the ways to relieve the load is have secondary systems being run on the cloud. According to estimates from third parties, approximately 3.6TB of data will be generated every hour by autonomous cars from the sensors and cameras.
In the case of autonomous cars for instance, the secondary systems that could be moved to the cloud include accessing and updating of the maps that are used in navigation. Functions such as acceleration, turning and braking are likely to be conducted by the in-car computer systems for the foreseeable future though.
In the case of virtual reality and augmented reality, the applications are likely to be accessed via the smartphone and other mobile devices. This will require massive processing power and while that is not likely to be a problem given the advances in chip technology, another consequence will be a battery life that is extremely short. But if some of the computation can be moved to the cloud, the battery life will last longer.
“Edge computing fulfills the promise of the cloud to transcend the physical constraints of our mobile devices. The capabilities of tomorrow’s 5G are the missing link that will make edge computing possible,” said the chief technology officer and AT&T Labs president, Andre Fuetsch.
While 5G will make it possible for consumers to enjoy lower latency and faster speeds, AT&T is also reducing the distance by ensuring that the computation resources required by consumers are within a few miles. This is because latency is determined to a great extent by distance. AT&T will achieve this by having commands sent to facilities such as small cells, macro towers and central officers and not just the data centers. These facilities will be equipped not just with general purpose computers but also with graphics processing chips that are high-end and these systems will be managed and coordinated by AT&T’s software-defined and virtualized network.