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Cambridge Consultants, picoChip partner in WiMAX design

Posted: 06 Jan 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:radio reference designs? Cambridge Consultants? WiMAX? 802.16e? picoArray?

Cambridge Consultants is supporting picoChip in developing software-defined radio reference designs for the mobile WiMAX (802.16e) market, using the picoArray DSP device.

Commissioned by picoChip, the designs will provide the air interfaces required for both base station and mobile station equipment in WiMAX 802.16e wireless networks, but in forms which are inherently software-upgradeable. According to Cambridge Consultants, this will allow the electronics OEM community to develop and deploy while the WiMAX specification is maturing without fear of incompatibility or obsolescence.

"The mobile WiMAX spec will evolve over the next few years, and the speed with which new iterations of base station and mobile station designs can be released will be crucial for operators targeting this exciting market for broadband mobile wireless," said Tim Fowler of Cambridge Consultants.

The company added that the software-defined nature of the radio reference designs will allow OEMs to accommodate substantial changes to 802.16e equipment in the field, by means of a software patch. This reduces the risk associated with upgrades to the specification, which are likely to be introduced as field experience with mobile WiMAX is gained.

The software defined radios in development exploit the architecture of picoChip's devices, which feature a multi-core array of 16bit DSPs, plus co-processors to accelerate specific functions, all interconnected by an extremely fast bus. The architecture allows signal processing tasks to be divided into smaller elements, which can each be assigned the appropriate processing resources. In addition to optimizing performance, this architecture requires considerably less silicon area, and consumes less power, than alternative design approaches such as a high performance DSP or FPGA.

"picoArray devices provide elegant technical solutions for this application with excellent performance, cost and power consumption attributes for both ends of the network, combined with a software flexibility that gives developers high degrees of freedom to accommodate both spec evolutions and custom features," commented Fowler. "The picoArray is easy to program, and offers a very efficient platform for the development of complicated systems."

The Cambridge Consultants-picoChip radio reference designs will be delivered early this year.

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