The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) announced the functional freeze of the LTE specs (Release 8) in Dec 2008, but even before that, Nokia Siemens Networks had already announced the availability of LTE base stations and LG had announced LTE baseband chips for the handset. These and other initial implementations will need to be optimized over time to optimize cost/performance and upgraded to comply with the latest version of the specification. With NTT docomo and Verizon Wireless announcing LTE service availability in 2010, the design and development time for hardware, software and systems is painfully short. A comprehensive design and verification methodology is required to meet the tight development schedule while meeting or exceeding performance criteria.

Electronic System Level (ESL) design aims to be this comprehensive design and verification methodology and this article aims to introduce some of the design challenges that may be encountered in designing the physical layer (PHY) for LTE and how ESL tools can help create executable specs to overcome them.