Digital Hardware Design Decisions and Trade-offs for Software Radio Systems

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Virginia Tech


Software radio is a technique for implementing reconfigurable radio systems using a combination of various circuit elements and digital hardware. By implementing radio functions in software, a flexible radio can be created that is capable of performing a variety of functions at different times. Numerous digital hardware devices are available to perform the required signal processing, each with its own strengths and weaknesses in terms of performance, power consumption, and programmability. The system developer must make trade-offs in these three design areas when determining the best digital hardware solution for a software radio implementation.

When selecting digital hardware architectures, it is important to recognize the requirements of the system and identify which architectures will provide sufficient performance within the design constraints. While some architectures may provide abundant computational performance and flexibility, the associated power consumption may largely exceed the limits available for a given system. Conversely, other processing architectures may demand minimal power consumption and offer sufficient computation performance yet provide little in terms of the flexibility needed for software radio systems. Several digital hardware solutions are presented as well as their design trade-offs and associated implementation issues.



digital hardware, Software radio, signal processing