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Software-defined radio dev platform for 5G research handles MIMO, massive MIMO using Kintex-7 FPGA

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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One interesting development project already underway using NI’s USRP platforms is massive MIMO research for 5G communications at Lund University in Sweden.

 

National Instruments has just released another MIMO software-defined radio development platform in its USRP series. The NI USRP RIO platform is based on the NI LabVIEW RIO architecture and is built around a 2x2 MIMO RF transceiver with an operating range of 50MHz to 6GHz. Naturally, you program this new NI USRP RIO platform with the company’s LabVIEW graphical system design and programming environment using LabVIEW FPGA extensions, because the NI USRP RIO platform employs an open FPGA architecture based on a Xilinx Kintex-7 325T FPGA and relies on the DSP48 slices in the Kintex-7 FPGA for high-performance signal processing. A high-speed, 800Mbps PXI Express x4 connection links the NI USRP RIO platform to the host PC.

 

Here’s a photo of the new NI USRP RIO platform:

 

NI USRP RIO Platform.jpg 

National Instruments USRP RIO 2x2 MIMO SDR Development Platform

 

 

Wireless engineers can use the NI USRP RIO and NI LabVIEW to rapidly prototype real-time wireless communications systems and test them under real-world conditions. You can explore more complex, more capable wireless algorithms and develop systems faster because the LabVIEW graphical system design and programming environment allows you to focus on solving actual wireless communications problems instead of being concerned with underlying implementation details. (Clearly, LabVIEW fits quite well into the Xilinx concept of All Programmable Abstractions.)

 

Here's a short NI video describing the new NI USRP RIO platform:

 

 

 

 

One interesting development project already underway using NI’s USRP platforms is massive MIMO research for 5G communications at Lund University in Sweden. What’s “massive” MIMO? That’s MIMO with 100+ transmit and receive nodes.

 

The concept of massive MIMO involves the deployment of base stations with very large-scale antenna arrays, with perhaps more than one hundred transceiver elements. The large antenna array increases network capacity, improves reliability, and reduces the required per-channel transmit power. Theoretically, the massive MIMO array achieves the same or higher data rates in a designated cell or region while using less transmitter power than required by a single antenna. Massive MIMO has been the topic of many research papers, but no one has been able to test the concept in a real-world scenario at the scale proposed by Lund University.

 

What does a “massive MIMO” antenna look like? Here’s a photo of 128-antenna research prototype taken from a presentation titled “Very Large MIMO Systems: Opportunities and Challenges” by Erik G Larsson from Linköping University:

 

 

 Massive MIMO Antenna.jpg

 

Massive MIMO antenna for 5G communications research

 

 

The presentation describes research done by Larsson’s team, which consisted of people from Linköping University and Lund University.

 

If the NI USRP nomenclature seems familiar, that’s possibly because the NI USRP RIO platform is part of a larger series of USRP products that includes the low-cost USRP B200/B210 Software-Defined Radio boards covered in an Xcell Daily blog two days ago. (See “Low-cost Software-Defined Radio boards employ Analog Devices’ AD9361 RF agile transceiver, Spartan-6 FPGA.”)

 

 

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