A Cost and Power Feasibility Analysis of Quantum Annealing for NextG Cellular Wireless Networks

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In order to meet mobile cellular users’ ever-increasing data demands, today’s 4G and 5G networks are designed mainly with the goal of maximizing spectral efficiency. While they have made progress in this regard, controlling the carbon footprint and operational costs of such networks remains a long-standing problem among network designers. This paper takes a long view on this problem, envisioning a NextG scenario where the network leverages quantum annealing for cellular baseband processing. We gather and synthesize insights on power consumption, computational throughput and latency, spectral efficiency, operational cost, and feasibility timelines surrounding quantum annealing technology. Armed with these data, we analyze and project the quantitative performance targets future quantum annealing hardware must meet in order to provide a computational and power advantage over CMOS hardware, while matching its whole-network spectral efficiency. Our quantitative analysis predicts that with quantum annealing hardware operating at a 82.32 μs problem latency and 2.68M qubits, quantum annealing will achieve a spectral efficiency equal to CMOS computation while reducing power consumption by 41 kW (45% lower) in a 5G base station scenario with 400 MHz bandwidth and 64 antennas, and a 160 kW power reduction (55% lower) using 8.04M qubits in a C-RAN setting with three 5G base stations.

IEEE Transactions on Quantum Engineering
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