Software-defined radios

Cambridge Consultants is working with picoChip to develop software-defined radio reference designs for the mobile WiMAX (802.16e) market.


Cambridge Consultants is working with picoChip to develop software-defined radio reference designs for the mobile WiMAX (802.16e) market, using the picoArray DSP device.


Commissioned by picoChip, the designs will provide the air interfaces required for both base station and mobile station equipment in WiMAX 802.16e wireless networks, but in forms which are software-upgradeable. This will allow the electronics OEM community to develop and deploy products while the WiMAX specification is maturing – without fear of incompatibility or obsolescence.


The software-defined nature of the designs will allow OEMs to accommodate substantial changes to 802.16e equipment in the field, by means of a software patch. This substantially reduces the risk associated with upgrades to the specification – which are likely to be introduced as field experience with mobile WiMAX is gained. It also means that manufacturers can extend system functionality, for example to include MIMO or smart antenna technology.


The reference designs will be delivered in early 2006. picoChip will be providing these to lead customers for trials, and testing them at the first 802.16e Plugfest next June, to verify interoperability and performance.


The software defined radios in development exploit the architecture of picoChip’s devices, which feature a multi-core array of 16-bit DSPs, plus co-processors to accelerate specific functions, all interconnected by an extremely fast bus. The architecture allows signal processing tasks to be divided into smaller elements, which can each be assigned the appropriate processing resources.