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.
Millimeter wave communication relies on highly directional transmissions in which energy is concentrated in narrow beams. 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 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.
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 gigahertz 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.
The first version of the system will operate in the