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Implementing a Flexible Testbed for 5G Waveform Generation and Analysis

Implementing a Flexible Testbed for 5G Waveform Generation and Analysis

Even as fourth-generation cellular systems—LTE and LTE-Advanced—are being deployed, research has begun on fifth-generation or 5G systems. 5G mobile networks offer a vision of “everything everywhere and always connected.”

Key attributes may include a dense, highly integrated network comprised of small cells supporting data rates on the order of 10 Gbps with roundtrip latency of 1 ms or less. Most studies assume multiple air interfaces, which will operate at microwave and millimeter frequencies. The use of high-order spatial multiplexing techniques such as MIMO will enhance capacity.

The combined network will be able to support everything from simple machine-tomachine (M2M) devices to immersive virtual-reality streaming. It will be capable of monitoring and controlling potentially billions of sensors and multiple simultaneous streaming services, and will support the massive data collection and distribution needs of the Internet of Things (IoT). In this environment, wireless data traffic is projected to increase 5000x by 2030.

Making the leap from astonishing predictions to practical implementation starts with the creation, generation and analysis of prototype signals. Because 5G research is starting so early, the standardization process has not yet begun. Physical-layer waveforms have not been defined and, because there is no consensus on potential waveforms, several candidates are in the running: filter bank multi-carrier (FBMC), generalized frequencydivision multiplexing (GFDM), universal filtered multi-carrier (UFMC), filtered orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (F-OFDM), and many more.

That’s one reason why flexibility is paramount: it enables “what if?” analyses to be performed in the evaluation of early concepts and potential 5G waveforms that may use a variety of modulation schemes at many different frequencies and modulation bandwidths. For developers, the risk of choosing the wrong path further reinforces the need for flexibility, especially in the form of signal-creation and signal-analysis tools that enable rapid changes in direction as strong candidates emerge in the evolution of 5G.

This whitepaper describes a flexible 5G testbed that includes proven, off-the-shelf software and hardware. For signal development, the key software elements are SystemVue for simulation, what-if analysis and algorithm development, and Signal Studio for signal creation for early R&D testing. The hardware generation of test signals relies on the M8190A arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) to produce signals that drive the wideband I/Q modulation inputs of an E8267D PSG vector signal generator. Signal demodulation and analysis is performed with the 89600 VSA software, an X-Series signal analyzer and a wideband Infiniium oscilloscope.