SAN FRANCISCO—National Instruments (NI) announced a software defined radio (SDR) for the millimeter wave (mmW) spectrum. The transceiver system can transmit and/or receive wide-bandwidth signals at 2 GHz real-time bandwidth, covering the 71-76 GHz spectrum. The system comes with accompanying software.
The mmW transceiver system includes PXI Express modules that collectively function as an mmW access point for a user device. Users can also develop mmW communication prototyping systems or perform channel measurements using the same system. Although NI chose the higher frequency spectrum, officials said the architecture is flexible and could be tuned to a different frequency if needed.
mmW system diagram. Source: NI
“There isn’t a software defined radio platform in the market for millimeter waves [above 6 GHz],” Kimery said. “If researchers don’t have a software defined radio capable of representing a basestation or cell phone, then they have to build that all themselves. This gives them a pretty big head start.”
NI designed a modular RF front end to allow researchers flexibility in using third-party hardware for prototyping. Customers could to use the full NI mmW solution, integrate their own RF into the NI IF and baseband system, or use the same system to prototype different bands with the same IF and baseband hardware and software. The system can scale from a unidirectional SISO system for applications such as channel sounding, to a bidirectional MIMO system capable of transmitting and receiving in parallel, NI said in a release.
Nokia is an early partner of NI and demonstrated the re-usability of the transceiver platform which the company called “a key research platform for our millimeter wave research.” Nokia demoed a 60 GHz mmW system using the NI transceiver with an evaluation board and phased array from SiBeam.
NI’s mmW baseband software also provides a complete physical layer including channel coding source code to expedite system development. Unlike NYU Wireless, which offers channel models, measurements and source code for free, Kimery expects NI to pick up customers who prefer a proprietary system.
“What our system provides is a method by which people can take the NI model and develop their own hardware for prototyping,” Kimery said. “Customers that don’t have access to the NYU model…or have certain scenarios that aren’t open source, may want to create their own data and measurements.”
Transceiver system image. Source: NI
Before mmW can propagate and become a viable means of communication, Kimery said more measurements need to be taken. In particular, how human interference affects propagation needs to be studied.
“NYU has probably captured the most comprehensive set of data, but it’s probably only a fraction of what you need to have a deployable network,” he said.
The NI transceiver system is currently available.
— Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE Times