By Rick DeMeisautomotivedesignline.com (November 07, 2008)
Software-defined radio (SDR) has been the subject of intense interest and research in the years since the concept was introduced by Joseph Mitola in the mid 1990s. SDR solves a number of problems for designers of wireless applications. Most of these challenges are related to the number of standards that wireless radios must support to operate globally—and, just as important, the cost of supporting those multiple standards.
Although SDR concepts have been used in military applications for several years, it is only recently that designers of cost-sensitive products such as car radios and mobile phones have been able to think seriously about SDR. Moore's Law and the resulting ability to harness millions of transistors to fabricate highly computational intensive signal processing chips is one important development.
Raw processing power alone is not sufficient, however, because in the real world radio performance is also judged by other metrics as well, such as power consumption, chip size, and the flexibility of the processing core's architecture so that it can accommodate new standards.
Engineers at NXP Semiconductors have created a highly flexible SDR concept in which signal processing blocks become functions that can be shared between different standards. Using state-of-the art embedded digital-signal-processing (DSP) cores owned by NXP and its partners, the solution can adapt itself on-the-fly to the present set of radio standards used in an automotive application and, using software, can even accommodate new standards.
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