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Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Radio access network (RAN) virtualization is gaining more and more ground and expected to re-architect the next-generation cellular networks. Existing RAN virtualization studies and solutions have mostly focused on sharing communication capacity and tend to require the use of the same PHY and MAC layers across network slices. This approach has not considered the scenarios where different slices require different PHY and MAC layers, for instance, for radically different services and for whole-stack research in wireless living labs where novel PHY and MAC layers need to be deployed concurrently with existing ones on the same physical infrastructure. To enable whole-stack slicing where different PHY and MAC layers may be deployed in different slices, we develop PV-RAN, the first open-source virtual RAN platform that enables the sharing of the same SDR physical resources across multiple slices. Through API Remoting, PV-RAN enables running paravirtualized instances of OpenAirInterface (OAI) at different slices without requiring modifying OAI source code. PV-RAN effectively leverages the inter-domain communication mechanisms of Xen to transport time-sensitive I/Q samples via shared memory, making the virtualization overhead in communication almost negligible. We conduct detailed performance benchmarking of PV-RAN and demonstrate its low overhead and high efficiency. We also integrate PV-RAN with the CyNet wireless living lab for smart agriculture and transportation.


This is a pre-print of the article Sander-Frigau, Matthias, Tianyi Zhang, Hongwei Zhang, Ahmed E. Kamal, and Arun K. Somani. "Physical wireless resource virtualization for software-defined whole-stack slicing." arXiv preprint arXiv:2012.12434 (2020). Posted with permission.

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