Over the past 10 years, FPGA manufacturers have been improving Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology by reducing the silicon fabrication structure size. As a result, the device size, weight & power (SWaP) values were reduced. The newest SDR products offer System-on-Chip (SoC) solutions with integrated I/O, ARM processors, and large FPGAs that include intellectual property (IP) for accessing, routing, and processing digital data.

This article will familiarize you with the latest hardware, firmware, software, and design tools available from COTS vendors to create an SDR system that can be used for a 5G development platform. These SDR platforms provide superior signal integrity performance, high test repeatability and modular assemblies that adjust to constantly changing 5G design requirements.

Each section of this article is divided into hardware, firmware, and software sub-sections for additional clarity:

  • Hardware is the SDR PCB including components
  • Firmware is internal FPGA code to create a logic design and implement digital signal processing (DSP) functions
  • Software is C code to control an FPGA with firmware to perform any additional DSP functions