Wideband flexible digital receivers
Newport, Isle of Wight, UK – 19 July 2007
-- RF Engines Limited (RFEL), the specialists in high performance signal processing design, has won another research grant from the UK Government. This latest grant by the South East Development Agency (SEEDA) is to undertake research into a novel and flexible receiver architecture that is reconfigurable ‘on-the-fly’. The project draws on RFEL’s world-leading techniques in signal processing on FPGAs and world class RF design expertise.
The architecture will be used to create a portable digital receiver that will be capable of scanning the spectrum from zero up to 5.84 GHz. Typically such devices only extend to 3 GHz but with the expanding use of higher frequencies for WiFi etc, an increased frequency range is required. The application areas for the fully flexible wideband receiver, range from commercial wireless communications such as wireless base stations, through to test and measurement applications. RFEL also anticipates that there may be future use for the architecture in hand-held media devices that are using an increasingly wide range of RF frequencies for WiMax, GPS, 3G, Bluetooth, Wireless LAN, Mobile TV, etc and thus a reconfigurable receiver provides a more cost effective and smaller solution than a number of dedicated receiver circuits.
Traditionally, radio receivers have been designed as a series of discrete ‘building blocks’ each addressing specific frequencies, which can add up to a large amount of silicon real estate. RFEL’s design approach is focussed on the combination of flexible analogue and digital elements in such a way as to allow re-configurability of the complete system for different applications as required, via software/firmware. The resulting Software Defined Radio (SDR) increases the amount of digital signal processing to move the analogue/digital boundary closer to the antenna, thus reducing the complexity and limitations of the RF front-end. It should also deliver a solution that has lower power consumption, smaller size, wideband performance and enhanced system performance.
The project is likely to lead to the development and production of a number of receivers. This is a progressive move for RFEL, which has, until now, been focussed on complex firmware intellectual property (IP) designs. “For some time now, customers have been asking us to provide complete turnkey solutions which integrate our firmware designs,” explained John Summers, RFEL’s CEO. “We’ve already done this for certain key customers, but we’ve now reached a stage in the growth of the company where we feel that we can extend this added-value service, as it enables us to exploit our RF and systems expertise to deliver complete product solutions to a wider audience.”
Commenting on the award, Jeff Alexander, SEEDA Executive Director for Global Competitiveness said “RF Engines has shown a remarkable ability to commercialise its innovative designs. We are confident that RFEL will follow through to similar commercial success with its latest project. This will create and support regionally-based high value jobs in the process.” RF Engines
RF Engines Limited (RFEL) is a UK-based electronic systems designer, providing high specification signal processing solutions for FPGAs, as well as receiver and complete product solutions for the homeland security, defence, communications and instrumentation markets. Applications include communications base stations, satellite communications systems, test and measurement instrumentation, and bespoke wideband receivers/transceivers.