Nowadays communication systems support ubiquity, seamless mobility and coexistence of numerous spectrum sharing wireless standards making necessary more intelligent, robust and efficient technologies. Some of the Communication Technologies Division research efforts are oriented towards physical (PHY) layer design, implementation and validation of transmitter and receiver schemes or architectures, and signal processing techniques/algorithms improving the features of next generation communication systems.
The research efforts spent on improving communication systems can be highly valuable when transferred to the industry. As an intermediate but necessary step, the RTLAB provides a suitable workspace and highly appreciated tools for prototyping and validating advanced PHY-layer research concepts under realistic conditions.
We are equipped with several HW instruments and SW tools for mixed-domain and multiple-purpose testing, troubleshooting and validation:
- Standard compliant signal creation SW for numerous wireless applications: Validation & Fine tuning of CTTC designs at baseband, IF, RF and microwave frequencies.
- Digital baseband HW&SW tools to enable digital baseband generation, capture, impair, playback and emulate real world signal conditions.
- Arbitrary Waveform Generators, Vector Signal Generators and RF upconverters (up to 6GHz) capable of interfacing with signal creation software, simulators, and FPGA-based development platforms.
- Compact ultra-low phase noise CW sources up to 1GHz.
- Broadband RF Noise Generators (AWGN, from 5 to 2150MHz) for BER vs SNR testing.
- Spectrum/Signal analyzers (up to 26.5GHz) & multi-channel oscilloscope (up to 8 GHz, 40 GSa/s) capable of interfacing with signal evaluation and simulation tools.
- Signal evaluation and PHY troubleshooting software tools. Standard compliant signal demodulation packages dedicated to numerous wireless applications.
- MIMO validation test bench through joint use of multiple vector signal generators (up to 4), RF MIMO radio channel emulator (up to 4×2 or 2×4 cfg., 0.3-6 GHz operation, 65 MHz BW), and 4CH digital oscilloscope.
The Laboratory is also provided with several RF, mixed-signal and baseband hardware boards that are mainly used to construct Testbeds or PHY transceiver prototyping platforms:
- Ultra-high-performance 4-CH 20 to 3000 MHz reconfigurable RF downconverter (up to 80 MHz BW, phase coherent operation).
- High-speed, multi-channel data acquisition and digital-to-analog conversion platforms equipped with up to eight phase-synchronous ADCs and DACs (4-dual), with independent software-programmable VGAs, hosting high-capacity Virtex-4 LX FPGAs.
- cPCI development platform to help develop and test DSP algorithms (designed around two clusters of one Virtex-4 LX FPGA and two TMS320C6416 DSPs) including a complete board software development kit.
- uTCA SDR transceiver development platform including 2×2 MIMO multimode 0.3-3 GHz zero-IF radio transceivers (with selectable 1.5-28 MHz bandwidth) and Virtex-6 SX FPGA Advanced Mezzanine Card with a complete board software development kit.
- SDR and GNU Radio rapid prototyping platform including 0.5-2.2 GHz zero-IF radio transceiver (up to 40 MHz BW) and low-end FPGA.
- Multiple COTS evaluation modules from main vendors targeting FPGA (up to Virtex-7 and Zynq-7000), data capture and pattern generation, D/A+IQ modulation (up to 500 MHz BW), RF direct synthesis D/A and RF sampling A/D.
Some of the target applications are: 5G communications, advanced base stations, femtocells, smart antennas, multi-channel IF systems, beamformers, MIMO space-time coding, Software-defined radio (SDR), cognitive radio, wireless applications (modems, OFDM antenna diversity, Wi-Fi, WiMAX and LTE transceivers, wireless backhaul equipment), power amplifier wideband digital predistorters (DPD+CFR) and real-time high-speed Test & Measurement systems.