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IMEC pushes SDR effort forward

Posted: 01 Dec 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SDR? IMEC? software-defined radio? 3G?

A variety of advanced FEC technologies used in a range of wireless WAN and LAN can be handled by a chip introduced by IMEC. The chip is part of the research center's effort to assemble a full suite of silicon for software-defined radio (SDR).

Separately, researchers at IMEC's Belgium headquarters demonstrated SDR baseband and analog front-end chips running video over two simultaneous 2.4GHz channels at rates approaching 100Mbit/s. That's as much as five times the rate supported by any previous demo, they claimed.

Making generic chips
IMEC's FlexFEC chip can handle the advanced turbo and low-density parity check FEC codes. The FEC technologies are used in a wide range of wireless nets, including 3G cellular standards such as 3GPP and LTE, wireless networks such as 802.11n and mobile WiMAX (802.16e), and broadcast TV specs such as Europe's DVB-S2/T2.

The FlexFEC chip, a multiprocessor using a wide single instruction multiple data architecture, is competitive in throughput and power consumption with existing dedicated FEC chips, IMEC claimed. "This could be a generic block for building many different kinds of chips," said Liesbet Van der Perre, group science director of wireless research at IMEC.

Van der Perre's team is about to release a second-generation analog front-end for SDR. The 45nm Scaldio-2 chip can handle SDR transmissions spanning frequencies from 200MHz to 6GHz, and may even hit 10GHz. The group has also designed the so-called Bear chip, a baseband geared for SDR.

A single Bear baseband handles two simultaneous video streams over 2.4GHz SDR links.

"We have proven we can reach the power efficiency of dedicated radios," said Serge Vernalde, technical business director of nomadic embedded systems at IMEC.

In August, IMEC first demonstrated Scaldio along with two Bear chips enabling SDR transmissions at 216Mbit/s. Van der Perre and colleagues showed a single Bear baseband handling two simultaneous video streams over 2.4GHz SDR links.

"I don't think anyone has achieved more than 20Mbit/s so far" with SDR, she said. "The degree of flexibility of this platform also is extremely high because we can reprogram in C" both the baseband and analog front end, she added.

"Many people have baseband flexibility, but still use dedicated radios," Van der Perre said.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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