National Instruments unveils mmWave SDR to speed 5G research

National Instruments (NI) took the wraps off what it describes as the world's first software defined radio (SDR) for millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum.

The new transceiver system includes a full transceiver that can transmit and/or receive wide-bandwidth signals at 2 GHz real-time bandwidth, covering spectrum in the E-Band – 71-76 GHz. NI notes that engineers and scientists have used SDRs ubiquitously in the spectrum below 6 GHz for years, but now companies in mmWave have a full-featured SDR platform to drive their initiatives.

Nokia (NYSE:NOK), which is a key participant in NI's RF/Communications Lead User program, has been working with early versions of the mmWave transceiver system in its 5G research initiatives for over a year.

"NI's mmWave transceiver system has been a key research platform for our mmWave research," said Tod Sizer, head of mobile radio research for Nokia Bell Labs, in a press release. "The platform delivers the right combination of hardware and software necessary to expedite our research and has given us confidence that mmWave will indeed be a critical technology for 5G. At this year's Brooklyn 5G Summit, we are demonstrating a high data rate mmWave system using phased array @ 60 GHz using NI's platform, thus making 5G a commercial reality."

At last year's Brooklyn 5G Summit, Nokia, along with NI, demonstrated a 10 Gbps peak rate system over the air at 73 GHz. The 10 Gbps system in the demonstration used 2x2 MIMO using single carrier Null Cyclic Prefix modulation and frame size of 100 micro seconds.

"There's no doubt that 5G will include frequencies above 6 GHz," said Charles Schroeder, vice president of RF and wireless communications product marketing at NI, in the release. "The mmWave transceiver system is an essential platform for understanding the propagation models of higher frequency signals and for building real-world prototypes of these new generation 5G systems."

According to NI, the mmWave transceiver system includes new PXI Express modules that collectively function as an mmWave access point for a user device. Engineers can use it to develop mmWave communication prototyping systems or perform channel measurements, which are necessary for wireless researchers to understand the characteristics of a new spectrum, using the same system.

The mmWave baseband software delivers a complete mmWave physical layer including channel coding in LabVIEW virtual instrument (VI) source code to expedite system development while alleviating many of the system integration tasks. Researchers can also use the mmWave transceiver system baseband with the E-band mmWave heads or other third-party RF front ends to offer maximum flexibility for exploring other mmWave and microwave frequency bands.

For more:
- see this release

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