IMEC Develops Flexible Air Interface Baseband Platform for Mobile SDR

IMEC has completed design and tape-out of a flexible-air-interface (FLAI) baseband platform for software-defined radios (SDR). IMEC’s solution is an ideal basis to support upcoming generations of mobile devices featuring 802.11n, 802.16e, mobile TV and 3GPP-LTE communication standards. The system-on-chip (SoC) platform and its patented components with their programming environment will be licensed to industry for commercial product development as white-box intellectual property (IP).

The FLAI platform incorporates two IMEC-proprietary ADRES (architecture for dynamically reconfigurable embedded systems) baseband processors fully supported by a proprietary C-code compiler, three digital front-end tiles with a proprietary ASIP (application-specific integrated processor) to assure sync-detection, an ARM(TM)9 processor, and optimized AMBA(TM) interconnect to link the SoC’s modules with on-chip memories. The IP blocks come with reference platform control software and reference firmware for IEEE802.11n, 802.16e and 3GPP-LTE, as well as integration support.

Thanks to a patented platform control and power management approach, the SoC consumes only a few milliwatts in standby mode, yet is still capable of receiving an immediate burst from any supported wireless standard (reactive radio). When transmitting or receiving data bursts with multi-antenna encoding at more than 100Mbps, platform peak power is only 300mW.

IMEC also expects to combine its FLAI platform and flexible radio front-end (SCALDIO) in order to demonstrate a fully operational software-defined radio later this year. This platform achievement will be followed by a new generation of SDR research results, focusing on SDR and cognitive radio now under development. This new generation also includes a unified application-specific processor architecture that can reduce the area cost of implementing multi-mode advanced forward error correction.

FLAI Specifications

  • 38 mm² die area
  • 4 power domains, 8 clocks
  • 270 I/O pins
  • 6.7 Mb memory (121 instances)
  • 2 FLAI-ADRES processors, each with
  • 33 memory macro @ 400MHz
  • 32KB instruction cache
  • 128-entries config mem
  • 64KB data scratchpad
  • 128KB IMEM @ 200MHz
  • 400MHz WCC Clock rate
  • 25,6GOPS
Architecture of IMEC’s software-defined radio digital baseband platform
Architecture of IMEC's software-defined radio digital baseband platform

About IMEC
IMEC is a world-leading independent research center in nanoelectronics and nanotechnology. Its research focuses on the next generations of chips and systems, and on the enabling technologies for ambient intelligence. IMEC’s research bridges the gap between fundamental research at universities and technology development in industry. Its unique balance of processing and system know-how, intellectual property portfolio, state-of-the-art infrastructure and its strong network of companies, universities and research institutes worldwide position IMEC as a key partner for shaping technologies for future systems. IMEC vzw is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, has a sister company in the Netherlands, IMEC-NL, concentrating on wireless autonomous transducer solutions, and has representatives in the US, China, Japan and Taiwan. Its staff of more than 1600 people includes more than 500 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2007, its revenue (P&L) is estimated at about EUR 235 million.