SiBeam, NI, join 5G mmWave exploratory study

January 21, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
Taking place at the NYU (New York University) Wireless research centre, a study into use of millimeter wave technologies for future high-data-rate mobile services (5G): in particular, antenna experiments that will be built around hardware and systems from SiBeam and National Instruments.

The NYU Wireless research centre has announced it will build an advanced programmable platform to rapidly design, prototype, and validate technologies vital for the millimeter wave (mmWave) radio spectrum, which is potentially key to launching the next ultra-high-data-rate generation of wireless communication, or 5G. Funded by a [US] National Science Foundation (NSF) programme that supports exploratory work on potentially transformative research, the platform will be one of the first of its kind available to researchers from academia, government, and industry who are driving the early stages of mmWave technology.

Millimeter wave communication relies on highly directional transmissions; current mmWave prototyping systems use directional horn antennas mounted on mechanically rotatable gimbals. These mechanical systems are too large and slow for mobile applications. The new software-defined radio (SDR) platform will integrate an electrically steerable phased array with no physically moving parts and near-instantaneous steering. Equipment from NYU Wireless affiliate sponsor SiBEAM, a Lattice Semiconductor company, will provide the RF (radio frequency) front end for this testbed. (board, pictured).

Equipment from another affiliate sponsor, National Instruments (NI), will provide a high bandwidth and massive baseband processing system to create mmWave prototypes capable of high data rates and very low latency.

Both SiBEAM and NI will provide engineering support to New York University researchers. As part of the program, support will be provided for the system’s release to other university and industry groups to speed development of mmWave technology.

The mmWave frequencies above 10 GHz are a promising frontier in the quest to greatly expand the capacity in cellular and local area networks to accommodate the increased bandwidth needed in the future. The mmWave spectrum could provide 200 times the capacity of all of today’s cellular spectrum allocations, and 5G is projected to become more than 1,000 times faster than 4G.

“The development of an open-source, powerful SDR platform will greatly speed the development of mmWave systems and allow academic and industry groups to