Wireless basestation functionality implemented on a single card

Paul Boughton

CommAgility has developed a double-width Advanced Mezzanine Card (AMC) module that can provide a complete signal chain from MIMO RF to Ethernet for wireless applications.

The AMC-D24A4-RF4 uses a Texas Instruments TMS320TCI6636 Keystone II system on chip alongside two TI TMS320C6678 multicore DSPs and a Xilinx Kintex-7 FPGA, as well as a flexible 4x4 RF interface.

The module is aimed at LTE Advanced and 5G systems that require MIMO technologies, and enables complete RF to Layer 3 wireless basestation functionality to be implemented on a single card. The performance and flexibility make it suitable for use in test equipment, research and development, or a specialised application such as wireless surveillance.

The module’s main processor is the TCI6636, which has eight TMS320C66x DSP cores, as well as four ARM Cortex-A15cores for higher layer processing. Two additional C6678 octal core DSPs maximise the AMC’s processing capability, with both processors closely coupled through TI’s Hyperlink interface, in addition to the Serial RapidIO (SRIO) and Ethernet infrastructure of the card.

In addition to DSP and ARM processing, the card contains a large Kintex-7 FPGA for additional co-processing and to manage the RF interfaces. Kintex-7 provides an ideal compromise between size, speed and cost, and allows fitting of various FPGA sizes from K160T through to K410T.

CommAgility has ported the RF modules and capabilities of its existing AMC-RF2x2 card to the new module, keeping all the software configurable bandwidth (up to 40MHz+) and flexibility (662MHz to 3839MHz).

With the new larger board, it can now support 4 RF channels for 4x4 MIMO configurations, or alternatively each pair of channels can be run at different frequencies, allowing carrier aggregation across different bands.

The included RF control, management and processing firmware and software provides a high level RF control API while also leaving most of the board available for customer processing or 3rd party stacks and applications.

Edward Young, managing director at CommAgility, said: “From RF through to Ethernet, this new module provides everything wirelessOEMs need for high end LTE Advanced basestation and test equipment development, or even 5G.”

“With the combination of four ARM cores, eight DSP cores and over 12 wireless accelerators in a single device, the TCI6636 offers a leap forward in performance and flexibility, especially integrated into a scalable uTCA system with this module,” said Peter Flynn, business development manager at Texas Instruments.

The new module also provides a flexible range of I/O as well as the RF ports, including three CPRI ports, a GPS antenna interface, AMC TCLK interfaces, and Clock and Trig interfaces. For higher layer and control data, interfaces include dual Gigabit Ethernet, dual 4x SRIO and can include a 10 Gigabit Ethernet SFP port to the front panel.

An alternative build option, the AMC-D24A4, provides the same processing and I/O features as the AMC-D24A4-RF4, but without the RF interface. This enables OEMs to integrate their own choice of radio, which can then be connected using CPRI. With this option, customers have the maximum flexibility to include a higher power external remote radio head, or to meet their own particular RF requirements.

The AMC-D24A4-RF4 and AMC-D24A4 are both available in Q2 2014.

For more information, visit www.commagility.com