The UK Government awarded a research grant to RF Engines Limited (RFEL). 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 techniques in signal processing on FPGAs and RF design expertise.
The grant 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.