NIWeek: Inside the Nokia/NI 5G system

August 11, 2015 // By Larry Desjardin
It’s August. It’s Texas. It’s unbelievably hot. It’s full of modular instruments and LabView. Yes, it’s my annual trek (along with 3200+ others) to NIWeek in Austin, Texas, a conference hosted by National Instruments.

This year I had a special interest in 5G communications. I have recently written about 5G, and why modular instruments are well positioned architecturally to address the challenges of 5G. Architecturally yes, but without the mmWave (millimeter wave) instruments needed for the highest frequency 5G microwave bands. I recently made an unequivocal prediction: “We will see modular microwave, and mmWave in particular, within 18 months. That is, by the end of 2016.” Perhaps I should have said 18 days.

Why mmWaves? This chart shown by Nokia at NIWeek shows the wide spectrum opportunities offered by mmWave frequencies (in yellow).

As part of the Day 2 Keynote presentation, Nokia and NI demonstrated a “5G” 10 Gb/sec wireless link operating at 73 GHz, architecturally based on PXI and LabView. For completeness, I should mention that Keysight Technologies had just announced a 5G channel sounding reference system, based on PXI and AXIe, a week earlier. In this article, however, I will focus on the Nokia/NI system.

You won’t find any press releases or data sheets about the NI products behind the Nokia system. They are yet to be released as generally available products. However, NI was more than happy to showcase the system and describe how it operates. Here’s the inside view of how the system is architected…