Traditionally, a radio system such as a portable FM radio had its components implemented entirely in hardware, as in the amplifiers, filters, mixers and other electronic components on a circuit board. This is because a radio system was built for a specific purpose and frequency range. But this tradition is now changing...
With high-speed analogue to digital convertor (ADC) chips now available at a fraction of what they used to cost, together with very fast digital signal processors and lots of cheap memory, radio systems no longer need to be designed using a specialised set of analogue hardware. Software Defined Radio (or SDR) is a new approach to developing radio and radar systems, and it involves implementing most of the radio system in software. The SDR approach has tremendous potential for cutting development costs, not only by reusing both hardware platforms and software code, but also by saving much time when prototyping new products and experimental systems. SDR is a fast-growing field and increasingly, many new uses for this technology are being found.
At UCT’s Electrical Engineering Department, the Software Defined Radio Group (SDRG) is involved with a variety of projects. The overarching aim of these is to build expertise in the field of SDR in a South African context and to contribute towards the international body of knowledge in this field. A selection of the group’s projects is outlined below:
The Reconfigurable Hardware Interface for computiNg and radiO (RHINO) platform. The RHINO project is currently the main focus of the SDRG group. Most of the students in this group are in some way involved in developing components or resources for the RHINO platform and supporting code tools and documentation.
Shared Memory support for Operating System on Reconfigurable Computers that aims to make coding of parallel SDR routines easier.
Open-source toolflow for RHINO. This project involves analysing digital signal processing needs for applications running on RHINO and establishing an effective set of design procedures that uses existing open-source tools to implement, simulate and install these processing operations on hardware.
Performance evaluation of Borph (PEB) on the RHINO Platform. Borph Linux is a specialised version of Linux designed for use on FPGA systems.
Frontend design, mixed signal circuit design and digital signal processing on a reconfigurable computing platform for a software defined radio orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) implementation.
Design of a parameterised gateware core generator for a WOLA filter bank for radio astronomy applications.
Click for more information about: research opportunities in the SDRG