RF-Sampling Transceivers Embed Four ADCs and Four DACs

Texas Instruments (TI) has introduced two new RF-sampling transceivers that integrate four analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) and four digital-to-analog converters (DACs) in a single chip. TI says the device offers the industry’s widest frequency range, highest instantaneous bandwidth and 75% smaller design footprint than a discrete solution. The quad-channel AFE7444 (shown) and dual-channel AFE7422 transceivers help engineers more easily achieve multiantenna, direct RF sampling for radar, software defined radio and wireless 5G applications.

Offering the highest IBW among radio frequency (RF)-sampling transceivers according to TI, the AFE7444 and AFE7422 enable engineers to achieve up to 600% more data throughput. While sampling up to 9 Gsamples per second (GSPS) per DAC and up to 3 GSPS per ADC, the AFE7444 receives and transmits up to 800 MHz of information from each of the four antennae, and the AFE7422 receives and transmits 1.2 GHz from each of the two antennae. The new RF-sampling wideband transceivers give engineers flexibility to design applications covering any frequency from 10 MHz to 6 GHz.

The AFE7444 and AFE7422 enable engineers to support up to eight antennae and 16 RF bands with only one device. The AFE7444 and AFE7422 also allow engineers to directly sample input frequencies into C-band without the need for additional frequency conversion stages, eliminating local oscillators, mixers, amplifiers and filters in designs. Additionally, the two transceivers’ architecture allows for greater programmability than traditional RF solutions, and flexible decimation options enable optimization of data bandwidth. With four ADCs and four DACs in one chip, the AFE7444 and AFE7422 help engineers significantly reduce design cycles that are associated with the manufacturing and testing phases required when designing with discrete components.

Measuring 17 mm by 17 mm, TI’s RF-sampling transceivers help save engineers 75% of board space when compared to using discrete RF-sampling data converters. The integration and small size of the AFE7444 and AFE7422 enable engineers to optimize transceiver proximity to the antenna, enabling digital beam forming in high-frequency and high-density antenna arrays.

The AFE7444EVM and AFE7422EVM evaluation modules, available today from the TI store and authorized distributors. The evaluation modules are priced at $2,499 and $1,999 respectively. Pricing for the AFE7444 quad-channel, wideband RF-sampling transceiver in 100-unit quantities starts at $1,749.90. That’s for a 17-mm-by-17-mm, FCBGA package. Pricing for the AFE7422 dual-channel, wideband RF-sampling transceiver in a 17-mm-by-17-mm FCBGA package starts at $1,249.90 for 100 units.

Texas Instruments | www.ti.com



SDR Meets AI in a Mash-Up of Jetson TX2, Artix-7 and 2×2 MIMO

By Eric Brown

A Philadelphia based startup called Deepwave Digital has gone to Crowd Supply to launch its “Artificial Intelligence Radio – Transceiver” (AIR-T) SBC. The AIR-T is a software defined radio (SDR) platform for the 300 MHz to 6 GHz range with AI and deep learning hooks designed for “low-cost AI, deep learning, and high-performance wireless systems,” says Deepwave Digital. The 170 mm x 170 mm Mini-ITX board is controlled by an Ubuntu stack running on an Arm hexa-core powered Nvidia Jetson TX2 module. There’s also a Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA and an Analog Devices AD9371 RFIC 2×2 MIMO transceiver.

AIR-T with Jetson TX2 module
(click images to enlarge)

The AIR-T is available through Aug. 14 for $4,995 on Crowd Supply with shipments due at the end of November. Deepwave Digital has passed the halfway point to its $20K goal, but it’s already committed to building the boards regardless of the outcome.

The AIR-T is designed for researchers who want to apply the deep learning powers of the Jetson TX2’s 256-core Pascal GPU and its CUDA libraries to the SDR capabilities provided by the Artix 7 and AD9371 transceiver. The platform can function as a “highly parallel SDR, data recorder, or inference engine for deep learning algorithms,” and provides for “fully autonomous SDR by giving the AI engine complete control over the hardware,” says Deepwave Digital. Resulting SDR applications can process bandwidths greater than 200MHz in real-time, claims the company.

The software platform is built around “custom and open” Ubuntu 16.04 software running on the Jetson TX2, as well as custom FPGA blocks that interface with the open source GNU Radio SDR development platform.

The combined stack enables developers to avoid coding CUDA or VHDL. You can prototype in GNU Radio, and then optionally port it to Python or C++. More advanced users can program the Artix 7 FPGA and Pascal GPU directly. AIR-T is described as an “open platform,” but this would appear to refer to the software rather than hardware.

AIR-T software flow
(click image to enlarge)

The AIR-T enables the development of new wireless technologies, where AI can help maximize resources with today’s increasingly limited spectrum. Potential capabilities include autonomous signal identification and interference mitigation. The AIR-T can also be used for satellite and terrestrial communications. The latter includes “high-power, high-frequency voice communications to 60GHz millimeter wave digital technology,” says Deepwave.

Other applications include video, image, and audio recognition. You can “demodulate a signal and apply deep learning to the resulting image, video, or audio data in one integrated platform,” says the company. The product can also be used for electrical engineering or applied physics research.

Jetson TX2

Nvidia’s Jetson TX2 module features 2x high-end “Denver 2” cores, 4x Cortex-A57 cores, and the 256-core Pascal GPU with CUDA libraries for running machine learning algorithms. The TX2 also supplies the AIR-T with 8 GB of LPDDR4 RAM, 32 GB of eMMC 5.1, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The Xilinx Artix-7 provides 75k logic cells. The FPGA interfaces with the Analog Devices AD9371 (PDF) dual RF transceiver designed for 300 MHz to 6 GHz frequencies. The AD9371 features 2x RX and 2x TX channels at 100 MHz for each channel, as well as auxiliary observation and sniffer RX channels.

The AIR-T is further equipped with a SATA port and a microSD slot loaded with the Ubuntu stack, as well as GbE, USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and 4K-ready HDMI ports. You also get DIO, an external LO input, a PPS and 10 MHz reference input, and a power supply. It typically runs on 22 W, or as little as 14 W with reduced GPU usage. Other features include 4x MCX-to-SMA cables and an optional enclosure.

Further information

The Artificial Intelligence Radio – Transceiver (AIR-T) is available through Aug. 14 for $4,995 on Crowd Supply — at a 10 percent discount from retail — with shipments due at the end of November. More information may be found on the AIR-T Crowd Supply page and the Deepwave Digital website.

This article originally appeared on LinuxGizmos.com on July 18..

Deepwave Digital | www.deepwavedigital.com

Notable Crowdfunded Projects (Week of 11/21/16)

Here is a roundup of current crowdfunded projects that the Circuit Cellar team finds interesting. Check them out and let us know what you think.

RS-HFIQ 5W Software Defined Radio (SDR) Transceiver

HobbyPCB’s RS-HFIQ is a high-performance software-defined radio (SDR) 5-W transceiver for CW, SSB, AM, FM, and digital modes. As of 11/22/16, this project has nine days remaining.

Not just another SDR – The RS-HFIQ offers real RF performance for serious communications. Covering the 80-10M Amatuer Radio bands with excellent RX performance and 5 watts of TX power, using open-source SDR software for CW, SSB, AM, FM and digital modes, the RS-HFIQ sets a new standard for shortwave SDR communications.

Visit the Project Page.

QuadBot – Real Robotics, Made Accessible

EngiMake’s QuadBot is a 3-D-printable, programmable walking robot intended for DIYers/makers, aspiring roboticists, and experienced hackers. As of 11/22/16, this project has 47 days remaining.

QuadBot can walk, dance, light up and with sensors it can follow you, avoid obstacles, play songs… anything is possible! But the real value is the open-ness of QuadBot. Rather than limit you to only a few behaviours, we’ve opened up the entire code and design so you can hack it to do anything.  That means if you want to learn basic robotics, you can follow our standard guide, but when you’re ready to activate super maker mode, you can break-out and use QuadBot to explore robotics.

Visit the Project Page.

FiPy IoT Dev Board

Pycom’s FiPy is a five-network IoT development board. As of 11/22/16, this project has 30 days remaining.

Simply put, we give you a 5 networks in one simple small, perfectly formed, same-foot-print-as-WiPy-and-LoPy hardware module at a price squeezed right down to €33 (early bird) and €49 after Kickstarter.

Visit the Project Page.