Edge computing and 5G are complementary technologies; one needs the other to demonstrate their value. Their benefits and use cases were highlighted in this year’s Computex.
Edge computing and 5G have gained more awareness among users. Together, they have a range of applications, both in security and non-security. Their benefits and use cases were highlighted in this year’s Computex.
has evolved from a mere concept to reality. It moves processing from the cloud to the edge, closer to where data is generated at the end user entity. These entities may include factories, enterprises and retail shops, among others.
This has several advantages. With processing on the edge, there’s no need to constrain the network bandwidth by sending all the data to the cloud. When an event occurs, processing data closer to the event allows faster response.
“Computing is moving from datacenters to centers of data. That data-centric shift of capabilities means sharper insights and faster decisions. The edge is expanding services closer to the customer and making more efficient use of data and apps,” said Sanjay Mehrotra, President and CEO of Micron Technology, during his keynote at the Computex virtual event.
Edge computing and 5G
Closely linked to edge computing is 5G
. The technology allows much higher speed, lower latency and higher connection density. According to 3GPP, 5G enables download speeds of up to 1 Gbps and latency of as low as 0.5 milliseconds. 5G also allows up to 1 million devices per square kilometer.
Edge computing and 5G are complementary technologies; one needs the other to demonstrate their value. 5G’s power manifests itself in applications such as smart manufacturing, smart city and smart transportation which rely heavily on edge computing. Edge computing, meanwhile, needs 5G’s fast speed and ultralow latency to achieve near-instantaneous data analysis and response.
Indeed, edge computing and 5G together bring various benefits to different verticals. End users can rely on these technologies to achieve faster response and greater management efficiency. Some use cases are discussed as follows.
In video surveillance
, the benefits of edge computing are obvious. Rather than transmitting data back and forth between the edge and the cloud, the edge device itself, for example the IP camera or an edge server, can do the processing. Once an abnormality is detected, an alert can be sent almost instantaneously, ensuring faster response. Video data that’s too complex to be processed at the edge can be sent to the cloud, where the compute power is greater.
is all about using sensors to achieve greater efficiency and productivity. A downtime can be disastrous and costly. Predicting when machines or equipment may or is about to fail relies heavily on edge processing of sensor data. And 5G is only going to accelerate the edge computing trend in smart manufacturing.
“5G will have a significant impact on industrial use cases. The factory of the future will be flexible, wireless, constantly monitored and constantly optimized. 5G will provide the reliability, availability, scalability and ultralow latency required in these demanding environments,” said ST Liew, VP and President of Taiwan and SEA at Qualcomm Technologies, during his keynote.
“A 5G network’s main benefit is it can handle a massive amount of data. Secondly, 5G can deliver data with fast, reliable and low-latency communications,” said Steven Wu, VP of R&D Center at DFI. “All of the features of a 5G network cover the essential requirements for data-driven operations in factories.”
Edge computing also brings opportunities to healthcare. Processing data on the edge at the hospital, for example, allows practitioners to instantly know abnormalities or irregularities in patients’ health. Further, patient information does not go to the cloud, reducing privacy issues.
Perhaps nowhere is the merit of edge computing and 5G more noticeable than in smart transportation. This takes place in several levels. Within the vehicle, sensors such as LiDAR and cameras transmit data to the advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS), which must make decisions in a split second (or even less). This will be essential in future autonomous vehicles.
Then there’s the Internet of Vehicles concept and traffic management. When trucks travel in a fleet, for example, they can transmit sensor data to monitor each other. In traffic management, video and other sensor data can be processed on the edge to give responses, for example increasing lanes to reduce congestion. 5G makes real-time, low-latency communications between the myriad of sensors possible.
also leverage IoT devices to achieve smartness. Currently the data generated by these devices mostly goes to the cloud, but the trend is such that the processing is moving to the edge. This is especially the case with consumer security cameras and smart speakers.
Edge computing moves processing to the edge, a trend that is accelerated by 5G. What this means for end users is they should begin to consider – if they haven’t done so already – investing in these technologies to achieve further security, efficiency and intelligence. Telecom operators rolling out 5G, meanwhile, should also expand their services in the aforementioned use cases to increase revenue and offer more value for customers.