octoScope Debuts MIMO Wireless Channel Emulation Logic Subsystem

December 21, 2012. octoScope Inc. has announced a real-time logic implementation of its multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) octoFade wireless testing solution. When applied to a wireless signal using digital signal processing, channel emulation makes the signal appear as though it has traversed a realistic indoor or outdoor space, having been reflected from walls, cars, people, or other surfaces. With octoFade, channel emulation can be integrated into wireless test equipment such as vector signal generators (VSG) and base-station emulators. octoFade implements channel models defined by standards bodies such as IEEE 802.11 and 3GPP. These channel models emulate the effects of multipath and Doppler fading occurring in typical indoor and outdoor environments.

octoScope reported that octoFade is the first computational subsystem of a MIMO wireless channel emulator being offered stand-alone for integration into test instruments or test beds.

octoFade-3GPP is an RTL solution that implements standards-based 2G/3G/LTE channel models (802.11n/ac models to be added soon). octoFade-module is a PCIe based FPGA board running octoFade-3GPP RTL in a PC system. An applications programming interface (API) lets engineers and integrators configure octoFade logic with 3GPP certification channel models. Engineers can also configure octoFade with custom channel models.

octoFade-3GPP RTL and octoFade-module hardware can be easily integrated with test equipment, such as base-station emulators or VSGs, thereby enabling these instruments to also serve as channel emulators, saving end-users the cost of expensive (typically over $100k) stand-alone channel emulators. octoScope cited the recently announced National Instruments Vector Signal Transceiver (VST), a VSG and a VSA (vector signal analyzer) in a single module, as one platform for channel emulation. “Incorporating state of the art RF front end and FPGA subsystems, the NI VST hardware and open LabVIEW architecture make a perfect ‘home’ for a multitude of test functions, including channel emulation,” ostoScope reported.

“National Instruments welcomes developers such as octoScope to enable the NI Vector Signal Transceiver with wireless channel emulation functionality. The addition of octoScope's software-based IP extends the use of National Instruments RF instruments to a multitude of important test functions, particularly in an automated quality assurance testbed,” said Eric Starkloff, VP of marketing at National Instruments.

“octoFade-module is the only channel-emulation solution that provides baseband interfaces for integration into test equipment or for use in a variety of radio development environments and test beds,” said Fanny Mlinarsky, president of octoScope. “Competing channel emulation solutions burden users with expensive RF hardware, when in many cases the required hardware already exists in test beds,” she added.

octoFade-3GPP RTL and octoFade-module are a continuation of octoScope’s channel emulation solution, octoFade-WiFi. octoFade-WiFi is a software-based implementation of 802.11n/ac channel models offering source code or executable library for test waveform generation.

octoScope plans to integrate channel emulation functionality with its octoBox controlled RF environment test bed to create a laboratory setup capable of emulating real-world conditions, including multipath, Doppler, motion of devices, noise, and interference. The octoBox test bed is currently used by engineers to test radio range, throughput, roaming, and mesh functionality.

Wireless connectivity is being incorporated into a widening variety of consumer devices and industrial controls, including phones, pads, PCs, access points, base stations, military and public safety handsets, vehicles, smart meters, and sensors comprising the emerging Internet of Things (IoT). Modern radios operate in hostile environments subject to multipath, interference, and dynamically changing conditions due to motion of the radios and reflectors.

To ensure adequate performance and to optimize range and throughput of wireless devices, engineers increasingly rely on channel emulation for radio testing. With the emergence of MIMO radio technology, channel emulation has become a mandatory part of radio test in R&D and quality assurance.

For customers requiring outdoor 3GPP channel emulation solutions, octoFade-3GPP RTL and octoFade-module implement real-time LTE, WCDMA, and GSM channel models. For customers requiring indoor 802.11n/ac channel models, octoFade-WiFi is currently available as C source code or an executable library for Windows and Linux systems, offering channel modeling capabilities for test waveform creation.

octoScope, www.octoscope.com

Update (1/4/13): octoScope CTO Fanny Mlinarsky will attend the Consumer Electronics Show and participate in a January 9 panel titled Six Wireless Technologies You'll Want to Know.

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