For a second consecutive year, the OSCARS laboratory from the Ecole Nationale des Sciences Appliquées of Marrakech (ENSA) held International Wireless School (IWS). IWS2013 took place in May in their school of engineering located in Marrakech, Morocco, with the theme “SDR Platforms: Application to new telecommunications standards (LTE, LTE-advanced, Wimax).”
Led by Dr. Younes Jabrane, head of the department of telecom at ENSA Marrakech, this highly dedicated organization committee made this two day event the perfect place for leading experts, PhD students, and researchers in the field of wireless telecommunications from all across the world to come and exchange their latest findings. For many SDR experts, IWS2013 was also the occasion to talk about state-of-the-art technology in SDR platforms.
On the first day, the main speaker was Mr. Maher Alibi, Solution Sales Manager Mobile Broadband at Nokia Siemens Networks. It was astonishing for many of us to have the chance not only to hear about the latest technologies being deployed by Nokia Siemens Networks all across the globe, but also to get introduced to some of the new technologies being developed. In particular, Mr. Alibi explained in detail the implementation of the LTE-Advanced mobile communication standard. The day ended with live demonstrations of the functionality of Nokia Siemens’ Liquid Net that unleashes frozen network capacity into a reservoir of resources that can flow to fulfill unpredictable demand.
Mr. Maher Alibi (holding PicoSDR), Solution Sales Manager Mobile Broadband at Nokia Siemens Networks
It was an honor for me to be the main speaker on the second day. The role of SDR platforms in the development of new wireless technologies was the core of my presentation. I discussed the different approaches for using SDR platforms to work on the physical layer of next generation mobile communications standards, as well as the key features that are necessary to work on cognitive radio applications. I also explored the duality between FPGA-centric and PC-centric SDR platforms, and suggested a workflow allowing developers to work on a mixed architecture (PC-FPGA).
This mixed architecture concept was first covered by Martin Turgeon, PLM at Nutaq, in a white paper entitled “Advanced MIMO Waveform Deployment Using GNU Radio.” In that white paper Martin highlighted many advantages implicit to working on a PC and an FPGA at the same time. Later, Julien Roy, FPGA and embedded software developer at Nutaq, published a second white paper on a similar subject. Julien’s paper, entitled “Offloading GNU Radio Processing With FPGA Logic,” was specifically focused on computational load balancing between the PC and the FPGA in a mixed architecture system. Such an approach also allows working on higher bandwidth wave forms, since some resampling can be done at the FPGA level, thereby reducing the bandwidth demand on the link between the PC and the FPGA. Since then, the interest in mixed architecture workflows has become higher and higher, and Nutaq’s presence in Marrakech was the perfect opportunity to share our knowledge on the subject.
The day ended with an OFDM workshop to show how the PicoSDR combined with the Nutaq MBDK and GNU radio enables such a mixed architecture workflow. For the first part of the demonstration, we used the MIMO2x2 QAM-64 OFDM reference design that Nutaq provides with the PicoSDR platform. We showed off many features of the platform, such as its integration with MathWorks® Simulink®, and we also walked through the architecture of an OFDM physical layer entirely done in Simulink using both Xilinx® System Generator for DSP™ and Nutaq MBDK block sets. Using this MIMO2x2 QAM-64 OFDM physical layer, we demonstrated a high definition raw video transmission.
In the second part of the work shop we ran an example of computational load balancing between the PC and the FPGA in a mixed architecture system. We used the Nutaq MBDK block set for Simulink on the FPGA side, and ran GNU Radio on the PC side. Finally, we demonstrated high bandwidth waveform transmission by introducing some resampling at the FPGA level, thereby reducing the bandwidth demand on the link between the PC and the FPGA.
Having such a scrupulously organized large-scale event in Marrakech that brought together over sixty people, all very knowledgeable in their field, was a great testimony to ENSA’s growing influence in the field of new wireless technologies. Being that the industries of telecommunications and information technology are two of the top four highest-growth industries in the past decade in Morocco, the overall tone of the event was one of excitement about the innovation and technological development possibilities for these industries.
Biotel is the official distributor of Nutaq’s Software Defined Radio platforms in Morocco.