Thoughts from the Wireless Innovation Forum SDR conference in Mainz, Germany, during
23-25 Jun 2010
The SDR Forum rebranded itself as the Wireless Innovation Forum (WInnF), or SDR Forum
Version 2.0, in 2009, reflecting the widening membership base and technology focusses
from the earlier emphasis on SCA. In the process, SCA work has moved into the “Co-ordinating
Committee on International SCA Standards”, sitting alongside three other committees
on Next Generation Radio Technologies (covering both the terminal and network), Advanced
Wireless Networking and Infrastructure, and User Requirements. With a new set of
wider, international aims, early 2010 saw WInnF exchanging letters of intent to collaborate
with the ETSI TC RRS group, and today the forum shares common interests in reconfigurable
radio systems and cognitive radio.
This conference was the 2nd Annual European Reconfigurable Radio Technologies Workshop,
and involved an intriguing mix of presentations and exhibitors from the open source
(GNU Radio) community, academia with papers on subjects such as cognitive radio,
and of course SCA. In making sense of all this, it is worth pointing out that reconfigurability
was the main emphasis when using the term “SDR”, driven by the need to support the
proliferation of air interface standards now and in the future. Using this definition
has interesting implications, such as the characterisation of terminals and handsets
as being in the “early adopter” / “early majority” phase for SDR. It may seem odd
to exclude from the SDR classification terminal developers who are writing modems
and stacks in VHDL and C/C++ on DSP and GPP cores, simply due to their predominant
use of optimised but non-reconfigurable ASICs, but it highlights the fact that the
definition of SDR will continue to evolve with the times. As another example, the
latest definition recently coordinated between the IEEE and the SDR Forum is that
“an SDR is a radio in which some or all of the physical layer functions are software-defined”.
Definitions aside though, several aspects were obvious when reflecting on the conference.
Although staff now at e2E have been implementing SDR in mobile satellite communications
terminals and test equipment for over two decades, it is clear that the field is
still far from maturity, reflecting the state of the software industry as a whole.
The conference showed how active R&D still is in the field, and concepts, technologies
and platforms will continue to evolve for decades to come. What is also striking
is that despite the much greater levels of integration and speeds available in hardware
today, the ubiquity of the PC as the host development environment and the move to
3GL+ languages, the basic software toolset capabilities and methodologies in use
in the real-time embedded developments have not changed much at all. Consequently
everyone still suffers the same set of problems in delivering development projects,
and in exploiting the software legacies when they’re done. A wider perspective says
there is still definitely room for improvement!
Please contact us if you would like to know more about our thoughts on the technologies
covered above, or what we are working on in order to address the issues highlighted.
Notes to editors
e2E Satcom is dedicated to bringing smart solutions to the mobile satellite communications
marketplace. Encompassing the skills and experience necessary to plan, design, develop,
inter-work and type approve User Terminals (UTs) for the latest mobile satellite
systems, e2E Satcom serves as a dynamic partner for leading manufacturers and operators
around the world.
e2E Satcom is today developing the smart solution for delivering the promises of
Software Defined Radio (SDR) for next-generation UTs. With a new class of development
tools and software IPR at your disposal, it will never have been easier to deliver
world-beating products to market. e2E Satcom is proud to deliver on its name, with
truly end-to-end solutions and services for terminal manufacturers.