Blue Wave designs scaleable software radio

CARROLTON, Texas - Engineers at Blue Wave Systems in Carrolton, Texas, have designed a scaleable software radio architecture that reduces development cost and time by supporting several wireless protocols and eliminating the need of a dedicated digital signal processor (DSP) for each channel.

Jun 1st, 1998
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By John McHale

CARROLTON, Texas - Engineers at Blue Wave Systems in Carrolton, Texas, have designed a scaleable software radio architecture that reduces development cost and time by supporting several wireless protocols and eliminating the need of a dedicated digital signal processor (DSP) for each channel.

Aimed at military communications and intelligence applications, Blue Wave`s SoftBand Software Radio Architecture is for prototyping and implementing advanced software radios. Blue Wave came to be when Lough-borough Sound Images of Loughborough, England, and Mizar Inc. of Carrolton, Texas, recently merged.

Blue Wave`s software radio is a combination of the company`s MZ3410 digital transceiver and MZ3100 VME-based dual processor DSP board, which is the processor element in the SoftBand Architecture. The MZ3100 uses the Texas Instruments TMS320C6201 fixed-point DSP chip.

The device enables designers to define much of a radio`s operation in software rather than hardware, says Joseph Andrulis, vice president of strategic marketing at Blue Wave. The flexibility of this approach over traditional hardware oriented designs provides cost and performance advantages, in multi-channel applications such as wireless base stations, modem and vocoder banks, and echo cancellers.

Blue Wave`s SoftBand architecture eliminates the need for each channel to have a dedicated DSP by using a flexible data routing capability between the digitization and processing capabilities.

A high-speed switching fabric providing a 400-megabyte-per- second data path between all modules enables designers to route any digitized signal to any processor. With this capability, system designers can funnel many channels through a single processor or send a single channel through several different processors.

The system`s scaleability reduces manufacturing costs, logistics, and field maintenance by enabling designers to build base stations with two to 100 channels with the same basic hardware, Blue Wave officials say.

The software radio also helps reduce maintenance and upgrade costs, Andrulis says. When designers change a protocol or add new features, they need only a remote download of new software.

Hardware upgrades are just as simple, requiring designers to insert additional boards into the chassis without changing any of the equipment, which also reduces upgrade downtime, Blue Wave officials say.

In addition to the DSP processor module and a radio frequency module, the architecture contains an acquisition and synthesis module that digitizes the input and output signals. It also has a network interface, which connects with the outside world via a T1/E1 connection or a customer-defined interface.

Blue Wave officials will market the product line in three fashions: as board-level products sold to system designers, as complete off-the-shelf software radio subsystems, and as a platform for customer-defined software radio systems.

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The Blue Wave Scalable Software Radio

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