Written by René Lamontagne and Yves Godin

The above video demonstrates how the Nutaq PicoSDR advanced development platform can be used for the rapid prototyping of complex radio access technologies.

As you can see in the video, the latest 3GPP standard, LTE, has been integrated in the PicoSDR. The PicoSDR runs a complete eNB stack in real-time, providing a 3GPP-compliant RF link for interfacing with commercial third-party user equipment (UE).

The current LTE implementation running on the PicoSDR advanced prototyping platform is based on 3GPP Release 9. It is a fully compliant frequency-division duplexing (FDD) implementation with 2×2 multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) (if you are not familiar with MIMO, please refer to our blog post, Introduction to MIMO).

The PicoSDR’s software-defined radio (SDR) has been configured to operate at 1.8 GHz (20 MHz bandwidth) to be compliant with selected third-party commercial LTE dongles.

Generally speaking, the RF card used in the PicoSDR is a standard FPGA mezzanine card (FMC) module that can be configured to run between 300 MHz and 3.8 GHz, in FDD or time-division duplexing (TDD) mode, and 2×2 or 4×4 MIMO (for details, please refer to the Radio420x product specification).

The RF module is hosted on the Perseus carrier card, the heart of the PicoSDR. As described at https://nutaq.com/products/picosdr, the Perseus is not only an FMC carrier for the radio card. It hosts a powerful Virtex-6 FPGA from Xilinx, which provides enough processing power for implementing the latest radio access technologies.

The Perseus also includes a PCI Express bus for interfacing with a second Perseus card or an optional embedded processor card like an Intel i7. The system is fully compatible with Nutaq’s model-based design environment, including MATLAB Simulink and Xilinx System Generator, which means it’s easier than ever to migrate your radio algorithm design to run in real-time on the PicoSDR hardware. For details, please refer to https://nutaq.com/software/model-based-design-kit.

The live demo that you can see in the video includes:

  • the PicoSDR with a Perseus card, an FMC radio card, and a third-party DSP card
  • a third-party LTE USB dongle from Huawei
  • the Nutaq Lite-EPC, an integrated packet core network server running on a standard Intel PC (used to manage the LTE eNB and route the traffic to the Internet).

The DSP card hosts a multi-core DSP system-on-a-chip (SoC) from Texas Instrument. The DSP card interfaces with Nutaq Perseus card using a Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI), the industrial standard for interfacing baseband processing units with radio heads. For more details on CPRI, please refer to http://www.cpri.info/

The RF link runs at 1800 MHz (the standard LTE1800 configuration).

Nutaq is also involved in future wireless technologies beyond 4G, such as 5G. In addition to the PicoSDR, Nutaq has other platforms capable of supporting the most demanding radio access technologies, including 100×100 massive MIMO and 5G.

Nutaq has, available today, advanced prototyping platforms capable of prototyping in real-time your most innovative concepts, not only 5G but any future radio access technologies. We look forward to seeing your comments and discussing how Nutaq can help.