Public testbed to speed development of 5G
Funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) program that supports exploratory work on potentially transformative research, the platform will be one of the first of its kind available to researchers from academia, government, and industry who are driving the early stages of mmWave technology.
Current mmWave prototyping systems use directional horn antennas mounted on mechanically rotatable gimbals. These mechanical systems are too large and slow for mobile applications. The new software-defined radio (SDR) platform will integrate an electrically steerable phased array with no physically moving parts and near-instantaneous steering. Equipment from NYU WIRELESS affiliate sponsor SiBEAM, a Lattice Semiconductor company, will provide the RF front end for this testbed.
Equipment from another NYU WIRELESS affiliate sponsor, National Instruments (NI), will provide a high bandwidth and massive baseband processing system to create mmWave prototypes capable of high data rates and very low latency.
NI, NYU, and SiBEAM collaborate on an open PXI based testbed for 5G mmWave exploration. NI’s baseband system, comprised of PXI hardware and LabVIEW software, interfaces with SiBEAM’s steerable V band mmWave chipset with integrated steerable patch antennas.
Both SiBEAM and NI will provide engineering support to New York University researchers. As part of the program, support will be provided for the system’s release to other university and industry groups to speed development of mmWave technology.
The mmWave frequencies above 10 GHz are a promising frontier in the quest to greatly expand the capacity in cellular and local area networks to accommodate the increased bandwidth needed in the future. The mmWave spectrum could provide 200 times the capacity of all of today’s cellular spectrum allocations, and 5G is projected to become more than 1,000 times faster than 4G.
"The development of an open-source, powerful SDR platform will greatly speed the development of mmWave systems and allow academic and industry groups to bring design ideas to reality," said Sundeep Rangan, NYU WIRELESS director and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. "This project was only possible by leveraging the unique expertise of companies such as NI and SiBEAM and with crucial support from NSF."
"SiBEAM believes that only mmWave spectrum provides sufficient capacity to enable the applications envisaged for 5G services and that electrically steerable phased array antenna technology is fundamental to delivering those services effectively," said Sohrab Emami, chief architect at SiBEAM, Inc.
RF module containing the SiI6342 60 GHz transceiver from SiBEAM.
The first version of the system will operate in the 60 GHz band, which is one of several that the Federal Communications Commission, using input and research from NYU WIRELESS and others, recently decided to regulate to move mmWave technology toward commercialization.