The trend is clear. Carriers appear to be on the path to implementing future expansions to their 3G and 4G data networks with many small cells instead of implementing more macrocell basestations. Microcells and picocells are smaller and cheaper, and they consume much less power than a typical basestation. The problem has been getting a multi-protocol, multi-band basestation on a chip and resolving the related backhaul dilemma. Design Art Networks has solved these issues with its multicore system-on-a-chip (SoC) basestation chips.
The company’s DAN3400 appears to be an ideal base for a multi-protocol basestation. Its small size, low power consumption, and economy make it suitable for microcells and picocells. It has 22 full processors on board including four ARM cores, 12 special RISC processors, and six DSPs that implement the three basic sections of a basestation: the control plane and operations, administration, maintenance, and provisioning (OAM&P), the data plane, and the baseband processing. Also, its front-end processing takes care of the digital pre-distortion (DPD) needed in the power amplifiers for best efficiency, which is a must in small cells.
At the heart of the DAN3400 is a scalable multi-protocol baseband pipeline consisting of optimized multicore DSP and RISC processing layers and augmented with software-programmable hardware acceleration for the simultaneous operation of high-capacity W-CDMA and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) microcells and picocells, as well as in-field software that’s upgradable to 4G LTE-Advanced. The DAN3400 SoC platform also consumes less than 6 W, making it a true carrier-grade small-cell solution.
The DAN3400 combines all basestation processing layers with a powerful software-programmable digital RF front-end (DFE), making it a fully integrated single-SoC basestation design. The embedded DFE, with high-efficiency power-amplifier (PA) linearization, drives a multi-carrier, multi-protocol 4x4 antenna array with a combined channel width of up to 40 MHz, making it fully ready for LTE-Advanced features such as spectrum aggregation, multi-user multiple-input multiple-output (MU-MIMO), and high-performance LTE relay.
DesignArt’s DAN3200 is a variation of the DesignArt basic 22-processor SoC design. When used in conjunction with DesignArt’s Unified Mobile Backhaul software pack, the DAN3200 provides operators with a flexible, low-cost, easy to install, multi-gigabit wireless mobile backhaul solution. In a single integrated hardware and software platform, the DAN3200 enables high-capacity line-of-sight (LOS) backhaul applications using long-haul microwave or short-haul E-band (60 to 80 GHz) spectrum assets and high-capacity non-LOS (NLOS) wireless backhaul in licensed and unlicensed sub-6-GHz spectrum.
The small cell is an optimum solution to the rollout of more advanced 3G and 4G wireless networks. But even with the lowest cost and most efficient design, they must have a matching backhaul solution to make the network practical. The DAN3200 provides a single-chip, full-duplex gigabit+ backhaul pipeline in any spectrum.
It takes advantage of the performance and programmability of the hardware-assisted DSP baseband technology that’s ideal for high-capacity point-to-point (PtP) and point-to-multipoint (PtMP) backhaul applications. The full programmability of the DAN3200 allows system vendors to offer a single Unified Mobile Backhaul software solution for all spectrum bands—for sub-6-GHz as well as for 6- to 42-GHz Microwave and E-band spectrum—based on a single cost-effective R&D platform.
The DesignArt SoCs are the second generation of the DAN3000 series. Earlier versions addressed the WiMAX market. These newer products provide a way to implement remote radio heads (RRH) as well as standard picocells and microcells. And, they solve the backhaul problem. Additionally, DesignArt is offering a reference design platform to provide a starting point for new designs. A variety of software packs is available to customize the design (see the figure).