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SDR devt kit eases design of multiprotocol radios

Posted: 18 Dec 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:software defined radio? development kit? Texas Instruments? multiprotocol radio? SDR?

SDR development platform from TI

Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has announced its Small Form Factor Software Defined Radio (SDR) Development Platform, said to be the industry's first and only development platform targeted at the portable military communications market.

The platform provides the entire signal chain hardware from antenna to baseband as well as a software board support package that supports a complete suite of software development tools in a single integrated development platform.

With this kit, TI said developers can easily design waveforms as well as create and test single or multiprotocol radios for applications in military, public safety, commercial, professional mobile radio (PMR) and land mobile radio (LMR) communication systems as well as RFID readers.

Additionally, as the platform is integrated to work with Simulink model-based design tool, developers have the option to use C/HDL or MATLAB Simulink to quickly test proof-of-concept designs and then optimize the architecture for cost and power.

Multiprotocol support
Next-generation radios require a software-defined architecture that supports multiple protocols while providing standardized hardware that can implement a broad range of systems from simple baseband to complex wideband radios.

Unlike other SDR development offerings in the market, the SDR Development Platform is a H/S co-development environment that supplies the full signal chain for a multiprotocol software-defined radio, including RF front-end module, data conversion module and digital processing module.

By separating out the baseband, IF and RF as distinct modules rather than as a single, fixed architecture, developers are able to extend their radio development capabilities, as well as optimize for cost and power consumption, by substituting their own or third party modules. This flexibility is vital, as it gives developers the ability to adjust their products around the industry's constantly varying requirements.

The digital processing module capitalizes on the performance and architecture benefits of TI's TMS320DM6446 SoC comprised of TI's TMS320CC64x+ DSP core and an ARM9 general-purpose processor. The high-performance DSP core streamlines complex signal processing, while the GPP supports network and application processing. Because the DM6446 device is equipped with both a DSP and ARM on a single chip, developers benefit from reduced system space and cost.

Complete peripheral set
Additionally, TI's DM6446 SoC comes with a full set of peripherals necessary for SDR, including serial ports, USB and Ethernet connections and DDR2 and NAND flash memory. The module also comes with a Xilinx Virtex-4 FPGA for modem co-processing and acceleration functions. The use of the Xilinx Virtex-4 SX35 gives developers enough performance headroom with low enough power to implement custom IP and acceleration functions that have varying requirements from one protocol to another supported on the same hardware.

The data conversion module includes two ADS5500 ADCs, offering 14bits performance at 125MSps and one DAC5687, a 16bit dual-channel DAC with 500MSps performance from TI. The standard RF module included in the kit covers from 360MHz to 960MHz with a selectable 5MHz or 20MHz bandwidth, supporting a wide range of applications. The platform also utilizes TI's MSP430 ultralow-power MCU and power management technology.

"SDR is an emerging technology that has been historically constrained by its inherent complex signal processing requirements. With the SDR Development Platform, developers can now harness the performance and efficiency of TI's TMS320DM644x device to overcome those traditional barriers," said Ram Sathappan, SDR marketing manager at TI. "Through this development kit, TI is making a strong commitment to the SDR market by providing a robust silicon, hardware and software roadmap that will drive down cost and power consumption."

Power management
Because of the inherent mobility requirements of wireless radios, power consumption is an important factor that is a key challenge in creating an efficient and cost-effective radio design. TI said the SDR Development Platform is the only development tool in the SDR segment to include the Power Measurement API, which enables developers to track real-world power consumption of the digital baseband unit precisely while algorithm functions are being executed.

Traditional power measurement techniques require external measurement of power consumption that offers rough estimates at best, but this development kit will include five different API functions to measure power consumption for all the different elements of the kit.

The Power Measurement API gives developers more visibility into their systems, enabling them to measure currents drawn from individual components such as the DSP and the FPGA. This enables developers to extract important information such as burst and peak power for a specific data rate, enabling them to accurately isolate components as well as accurately estimate battery life.

Additionally, developers are able to achieve the optimal power balance while maximizing performance between the different SDR components, all with effectively zero impact on system performance, the company said.

The Small Form Factor Software Defined Radio Development Platform (TMDSSFFSDRDP) without the SCA core framework or ORB costs $9,900 and is available through TI distributors. A reduced feature version of the SDR Development Platform for evaluation and development of digital baseband processing software (TMDSSFFSDREVM) is also available for $2,900. The full and reduced feature versions of the kit include free evaluation copies of TI, Xilinx and GreenHills software and tools. An Enhanced SCA version of the SDR Development Platform including licensed copies of the complete software suite including SCA framework and ORB middleware is offered directly by Lyrtech.

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