Where 5G development begins: National Instruments 5G lab

Article By : Steve Taranovich, EDN

Gain insight from industry influencers on how 5G standards will shape everything from healthcare and automation to autonomous vehicles and smart factories.

5G wireless will allow us to overcome the challenges that come with a more connected world. Gain insight from industry influencers on how the standards being defined will shape everything from healthcare and automation to autonomous vehicles and smart factories.

The 5G charter includes three specific use cases: Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC), and Ultra Reliable Machine Type Communication (uRMTC).

I was so fortunate to be able to visit National Instruments (NI) 5G lab in Austin, TX. Sarah Yost, Product Marketing Manager for Wireless Communications at NI, was my guide.

mmWave transceiver

The mmWave MIMO set up at National Instruments’ Lab

PXIe Express chassis

The PXIe-1085 prototyping system was chosen for the mmWave setup

The PXIe chassis supports processing modules as well as a power supply module. There are also interconnectivity, timing and synchronization infrastructure. It is an 18-slot chassis featuring PCI Express (PCIe) Generation 3 technologies in every slot which enables high-throughput, low-latency applications.

The chassis is capable of 4 GB/s of per-slot bandwidth and 24 GB/s of system bandwidth. This chassis uses a dual-switch backplane architecture. Multiple chassis can be daisy-chained together or put in a star configuration when building higher channel-count systems.

mmWave Head

A mmWave head is a modular transmit and receive radio which provides a high-quality RF signal for the NI mmWave Transceiver System.  The radio head shown below is an NI 3602 mmWave head transceiver covering 27.5 to 29.5 GHz with up to 25 dBm of output power and 2 GHz of RF bandwidth.  It pairs with a second transceiver on the right which has a 2.92 mm SMK port on the front of the device connected to a user-provided antenna, such as a horn antenna or a phased array antenna in this case.  The transmit radio head operate as frequency multiplier to perform the upconversion. The radio heads contain attenuators and amplifiers for maximum gain control and noise figure.

A mmWave head with a transmitter horn attached acts as the cell phone in this test.

Here is how this type of system can be set up and configured: mmWave Transceiver System with mmWave Software Defined Radio Device

Video: MMWave Transceiver System

The MIMO setup

MIMO SIBEAM phased array by Lattice Semiconductor

The NYU WIRELESS research center is building an advanced programmable platform to rapidly design, prototype, and validate technologies vital for the millimeter wave (mmWave) radio spectrum, which is potentially key to launching the next ultra-high-data-rate generation of wireless communication, or 5G and is funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) program.

Millimeter wave communication is basically a highly directional transmission in which energy is concentrated in narrow beams. Most recent mmWave prototyping systems use directional horn antennas mounted on mechanically rotatable gimbals. These mechanical systems are too large and slow for mobile applications. A 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, provides the RF (radio frequency) front end for this testbed.

Equipment from another NYU WIRELESS affiliate sponsor, National Instruments (NI), provides 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 provides 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.

[Continue reading on EDN US: Nokia and universities get together]

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