Designing a universal software defined radio platform

March 11, 2013 // By Aleksandr Kondratiev
Today the SDR technology enjoys a very different status than it had back in 1984 when the term software radio (software defined radio) was first coined in the E-Systems laboratory. Until recently this technology was reserved mostly for enthusiasts and the military.

Today, however, SDR is one of the priorities in the development of wireless communications and it is supported by international and national programs and associations such as Wireless Innovation Forum, French CONTACT Programme, Italy's Forza NEC Battlefield Command System, ESSOR, EULER, US military's Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS).

Many experts believe that this technology will become a new standard for the telecommunications market. A number of successful commercial projects using SDR-based and cognitive radio equipment have already been implemented. Examples include projects by the communications equipment manufacturers Harris and Alcatel Lucent; Firetide, a developer and integrator of hardware mesh networking; xG Technology (a successful startup that implements cognitive radio in wireless networks); Promwad Innovation Company (an independent electronics design centre), the developer of a universal SDR platform.

This rapid change is explained by several factors. The primary factor is the interest of the major manufacturers and consumers of telecommunications equipment since the introduction of devices with SDR support helps improve efficiency, reduce upgrade costs and reduce the cost and the time of introducing new communication standards. Another factor is the development of a modern element base: ADCs / DACs providing high speed and good dynamic performance, multi-standard broadband transceivers with programmable features, high-performance communication processors with integrated specialized accelerators, etc.

Unfortunately, the Russian market of SDR-based products is closed due to its specificity. Engineers and technology experts have difficulty finding new information on this topic, which is the reason why any data on new developments are of special interest. For instance, it is Promwad Innovation Company has had some valuable experience in this field. In 2011, Promwad experts started a project for designing a rather unique product for the Russian market, an open SDR platform for the development of multi-standard wireless communication devices (Fig. 1 as shown above). This article will discuss this particular product.

What is so unique about this project? First of all, it is uniquely open for