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Wireless PDA application testbed debuts

Posted: 05 Feb 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:handheld devices? pc? wireless pda application testbed? nokia? fpga?

Zhang: Handheld's popularity will provide great opportunities to China's software industry.

Handheld devices are becoming more popular than PCs. In particular, application-rich smart phones, or wireless PDAs, have been gradually replacing voice application mobile phones. They have become a wallet, web browser, TV receiver, FM radio and game console in one.

In effect, this has posted a huge opportunity for China's software industry, which also leads to the region's upgrade from manufactory-dominated to higher profit margin industry. Unlike the PC segment, there are no dominating players on the wireless software battlefield, which includes the three major OS players Symbiam, supported by Nokia; Brew, supported by Qualcomm; and Windows CE, supported by Microsoft.

Despite its rapid development, the wireless application industry is still very young, with a few developers compared to the PC industry. There are about billions of wireless handheld device users worldwide, but the application development and innovation are still lagging behind.

The main reason is the complexity and high cost of wireless technology. The complexity and the fast-changing nature of the wireless technology are considered to be risks when entering the segment. Until now, there is still no universally accepted standard for cellular technology. Europe supports the GSM-to-EDGE-to-WCDMA evolving path, while the U.S., the TDMA/IS-95-to-CDMA-to-CDMA2000 evolving path. There are also modified versions in Japan and South Korea. Presently, China started the initiative for TD-SCDMA.

The wireless PDA application testbed presents a unique embedded system platform for wireless technology research and product development. Using embedded systems (DSP+ FPGA), a CDMA prototype system was developed, demonstrating real-time high-speed wireless communications over RF link. The prototype system has integrated the wireless physical layer with the UMTS Release 5 network emulator.

High-speed web-based applications such as web surfing, stream video are also demonstrated. Presented on 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France and CTIA in New Orleans, U.S.A., this system can be used for wireless PDA application development. Because of the flexibility and cost efficiency, developers can test applications such as gaming, video streaming, and web surfing without involving the full set of complicated wireless networks.

There are three main components: the FPGA in which the WCDMA physical layer is implemented on, a DSP which handles the link layer and Linux PC, which supports the UMTS network emulator. The flexibility and scalability make this embedded system a very unique platform for wireless technology research and new product prototyping. Moreover, this platform can be used for advanced wireless technology research. The results can be quickly transferred to product platform, which can also be used for TD-SCDMA technology research.

- John Zhang

Senior Research Engineer

Nokia Research Center

Nokia will participate in this year's IIC-China and ESC-China events.

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