Programmable RF system

Paul Boughton

A new multi-standard software-defined radio (SDR) platform has been developed with a combination of a programmable RF chip from Lime Microsystems and Altera FPGAs and Enpirion power devices, writes Nick Flaherty. While initially aimed at military applications it can also be used for the Internet of Things (IoT).

The platform can be used to design a radio that can receive and transmit widely different radio protocols (also referred to as waveforms) depending solely on the software used. This highly flexible solution, which includes Lime’s new LMS7002M chip, gives communications systems designers unprecedented flexibility and performance while consuming a minimum of power.

“By combining an Altera FPGA for digital processing with a Lime field-programmable RF (FP-RF) transceiver, we can offer a new level of wireless performance and the ultimate solution for SDR applications,” said CEO of Lime Ebrahim Bushehri. “Altera’s FPGAs paired with Lime’s FP-RF transceivers enable designers to create low-cost, fully programmable wireless systems across multiple applications such as remote radio heads, base stations, military communications, software-defined radios, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.”

Altera and Lime worked closely together to improve the system designer experience. These devices can be easily programmed to produce any combination of waveform and RF transmission, and fully support multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) wireless applications and other RF techniques useful for military communications.

“The co-operation between Lime and Altera will give developers easy access to open-source, optimized reference designs, boards and software stacks and drivers,” said Ian Land, senior manager, Military, Aerospace and Government business unit at Altera. “Open source provides a quick, easy and affordable method to build next-generation secure wireless systems.”