Radio (SDR) Forum defines SDR technology as "radios that provide software
control of a variety of modulation techniques, wide-band or narrow-band operation,
communications security functions (such as hopping), and waveform requirements
of current & evolving standards over a broad frequency range."
In a nutshell, Software-Defined Radio (SDR) refers to the technology wherein software
modules running on a generic hardware platform consisting of DSPs and general
purpose microprocessors are used to implement radio functions such as generation
of transmitted signal (modulation) at transmitter and tuning/detection of received
radio signal (demodulation) at receiver.
Radio (SDR) is a rapidly evolving technology that is receiving enormous recognition
and generating widespread interest in the telecommunication industry. Over the
last few years, analog radio systems are being replaced by digital radio systems
for various radio applications in military, civilian and commercial spaces. In
addition to this, programmable hardware modules are increasingly being used in
digital radio systems at different functional levels. SDR technology aims to take
advantage of these programmable hardware modules to build an open-architecture
based radio system software.
facilitates implementation of some of the functional modules in a radio system
such as modulation/demodulation, signal generation, coding and link-layer protocols
in software. SDR technology can be used to implement
military, commercial and civilian radio applications. A wide range of radio applications
like Bluetooth, WLAN, GPS, Radar, WCDMA, GPRS, etc. can be implemented using SDR
technology. This whitepaper provides an overview of generic SDR features and its
architecture with a special focus on the benefits it offers in commercial wireless
This section gives a
brief overview of a basic conventional digital radio system and then explains
how SDR technology can be used to implement radio functions in software. It then
explains the software architecture of SDR.
The digital radio system consists
of three main functional blocks: RF section, IF section and baseband section.
The RE section Consists of essentially analog hardware modules while IF and baseband
sections contain digital hardware modules.
has generated tremendous interest in the wireless communication industry for the
wide- ranging economic and deployment benefits it offers. Following are some of
the problems faced by the wireless communication industry due to implementation
of wireless networking infrastructure equipment and terminals completely in hardware:
Commercial wireless network standards are continuously evolving from 2G to 2.5G/3G
and then further onto 4G. Each generation of networks differ significantly in
link-layer protocol standards causing problems to subscribers, wireless network
operators and equipment vendors. Subscribers are forced to buy new handsets whenever
a new generation of network standards is deployed. Wireless network operators
face problems during migration of the network from one generation to next due
to presence of large number of subscribers using legacy handsets that may be incompatible
with newer generation network.
operators also need to incur high equipment costs when migrating from one generation
to next. Equipment vendors face problems in rolling out newer generation equipment
due to short time-to-market requirements.
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