NTT Corporation (NTT) and Fujitsu Limited have announced their strategic business alliance toward the “Realization of a Sustainable Digital Society,” leveraging their respective strengths to deliver innovation that contributes to the resolution of societal and environmental challenges. The two companies envision a new, energy-efficient digital society founded on global and open collaboration with a wide range of partners supporting the IOWN (Innovative Optical and Wireless Network) initiative.
Specifically, Fujitsu and NTT will conduct joint research and development activities toward the realization of a variety of energy efficient, sustainable technologies in areas including open architecture optical transport and mobile communications technologies, combined with disaggregated high-performance computing, all of which are made possible by innovation in photonics-electronics convergence device technologies.
A Shared Vision of a Digital Future in the Face of Persistent Challenges
As the digital transformation (DX) of society and industry accelerates against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, many anticipate a drastic shift toward a more decentralized society built around the premise of protecting public health as part of a post-pandemic “New Normal.” The ICT (information and communication technology) systems supporting this will connect vast amounts of data generated from people, devices and sensors, and digital space, and process these in real time, demanding ever faster and larger-scale communications technologies as well as enormous computing resources.
Simultaneously, humanity continues to confront urgent societal and environmental challenges, including climate change. Awareness around these issues continues to grow, and a consensus has emerged throughout the world that businesses can no longer go on without making bold commitments to achieve sustainable growth that combine economic efficiency with the meaningful, substantive measures necessary to resolve these challenges.
Against this backdrop, NTT is promoting innovative R&D that will bring about change throughout the world in alignment with its group vision: “To resolve societal issues through its business operations, NTT Group works together with its partners as ‘Your Value Partner’.”
NTT is working with partners around the world to develop game-changing innovative technologies, setting forth its IOWN initiative as a part of its vision of building a platform for creating a wide range of services in society.
As a global technology company, Fujitsu works closely with customers and other stakeholders throughout society to help realize the dream of a prosperous and hopeful future through the fulfillment of its Purpose: “to make the world more sustainable by building trust in society through innovation.”
Outline of the Business Alliance
Going forward, the two companies will conduct joint research in fields that leverage their respective technological strengths of both companies, including optical technology, for which NTT and Fujitsu combined boast the world’s largest number of patents, and NTT’s information and communications technologies and their operational know-how, as well as Fujitsu’s world-leading computing technologies. Specific initiatives are as follows.
1. Establishing Photonics-Electronics Convergence Manufacturing Technology:
NTT Electronics Corporation (NEL), which develops hardware products utilizing NTT R&D’s advanced device technologies, will acquire a 66.6% stake in Fujitsu Advanced Technologies Limited (FATEC), which possesses semiconductor mounting technology. FATEC will begin business as NTT Electronics Cross Technologies Corporation, and commence operations on June 1, 2021.
By the end of fiscal year 2022, the new company will start to provide compact, power-saving optical communication co-packages that integrate digital coherent optical communications LSIs and COSA (Coherent Optical Sub Assembly) based on silicon photonics technology. These will contribute to high-speed, large-capacity communications and low-power optical networks, where power consumption is a growing concern. In addition, with an eye toward the Beyond 5G era, both companies will introduce a new architecture for applying ultra-high-speed, compact, and low-cost photonics-electronics convergence devices on mobile communication products, as well as a wide range of other ICT products, starting with Fujitsu’s 5G base stations. Going forward, NTT will further strengthen and expand its photonics-electronics convergence technologies, including semiconductors for computing, for a variety of applications, with the aim of realizing energy efficient ICT systems.
In addition, the enhancement of photonics-electronics convergence technology will further accelerate innovation with partners to expand photonics-electronics convergence devices.
2. Promotion of Open Communication Technologies (Optical Transport and Mobile Communications):
The two companies are promoting an open approach in which white box and general-purpose software can be supported in multiple vendor environments, shifting away from the existing, vertically-integrated model that relies on specific vendors, with the ultimate aim of encouraging a climate in which a variety of innovative ICT services can be realized to bring flexibility for a new digital society.
In the field of optical transport communications, Fujitsu and NTT will work together to plan new optical devices based on an open architecture, build system products developed by Fujitsu, and control supply chain management. The two partners aim to expand the business globally with a strategic entry into the data center interconnect market, where demand is expected to grow and the adoption of open architectures is accelerating.
In the mobile communications field, in order to promote more open mobile networks in anticipation of the Beyond 5G era, the two companies will study the development and promotion of open interface-based technologies, as well as the development of global businesses based on the results of these activities. The first step is to develop technologies that can be established globally with a variety of partners through avenues including the “5G Open RAN Ecosystem” launched by NTT DOCOMO. For example, the two companies will work on measures to improve performance, which remains a challenge for expanding the adoption of virtualized radio access network (vRAN) and develop control technologies to optimize radio access networks. NTT will use these technologies to further enhance mobile network infrastructure in preparation for full-scale 5G deployment. Technology developed through the collaboration will be used by telecommunications carriers on a global basis through the “5G Open RAN Ecosystem” initiative and other means.
While the two companies will openly promote these developments with various partners, NTT and Fujitsu will actively participate in these developments and leverage results from joint research into the optical transport and mobile communications business with the ultimate aim of expanding into the global market and making sustainable network infrastructure a reality throughout the world.
3. Joint R&D for Low Power Consumption in High-Performance Computing (disaggregated computing infrastructure):
The two companies will conduct research and other activities aimed at developing technology for disaggregated computing that enables high-speed, high-efficiency data processing by radically reimagining conventional computing architecture, for which speed and energy efficiency remain a challenge, and flexibly integrating and utilizing a variety of hardware with software according to the intended use. Specifically, the two companies will work to develop innovative computing technologies by combining the photonics-electronics convergence technology being researched and developed by NTT with technologies developed by Fujitsu for the supercomputer “Fugaku”. By leveraging this technology, the partners will be able to securely link a wide variety of real-world data, efficiently and quickly realize services that create value for diverse stakeholders, while simultaneously contributing to a more sustainable future by maximizing energy efficiency.
NTT and Fujitsu are promoting open joint research with various global partners to realize a sustainable digital society that will contribute to the vision of the IOWN initiative. NTT will create innovative smart solutions and ICT platforms that make use of the knowledge and technology cultivated through this alliance, and will strive to create an inclusive, safe, flexible, and sustainable community. On April 1, 2021, Fujitsu established the “IOWN/6G Platform Development Office” with the aim of developing technologies for the IOWN initiative and the 6G era. Research and development are now in full swing. Fujitsu aims to provide new value to a wide range of customers in areas including manufacturing, distribution, retail, and medical industries by leveraging the fruits of the alliance for solution services and platforms that benefit people’s lives and society as a whole. The two companies will continue to proactively discuss further specific areas of collaboration under this alliance.