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NXP Airs Software-Defined Radio

April 4, 2017

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

NXP’s first QorIQ LA-series chip has programmable baseband engines that can perform Layer 1 and Layer 2 network processing in software, so it’s adaptable to multiple communications standards. Along with its enhanced packet acceleration, the new LA1575 has enough horsepower to serve in multiple roles, including next-generation Wi-Fi routers, 5G cellular radios, and mixed wired/wireless applications, such as fixed-wireless nodes in neighborhood fiber-optic networks.

Designed primarily for residential and small-business Internet gateways, enterprise access points, and fixed-wireless applications, the LA1575 will be available in dual- and quad-core variants. Both models have ARM Cortex-A53 CPUs, and their target clock frequency is 1.4–1.6GHz. Although NXP is withholding many specifications for now, the most important new features are a programmable vector engine for Layer 1 processing, enhanced accelerators for Layer 2 processing, and an integrated RFIC interface with analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters (ADCs/DACs).

The LA1575 doesn’t fit neatly into existing product categories. General-purpose embedded processors, including most other QorIQ products, require external chips to perform the physical-layer (PHY) and media-access-control (MAC) functions in Layer 1 and Layer 2, respectively. Wireless-base-station processors, including QorIQ Qonverge, integrate general-purpose CPUs with DSP cores to perform the cellular-baseband functions. The LA1575 integrates ARM CPUs with programmable baseband engines that support various wireless protocols, not just cellular.

Although this concept—known as software-defined radio—isn’t new, it’s unique in a product that otherwise is a general-purpose embedded processor. The LA1575 is scheduled to begin sampling this month and begin volume production in early 2018.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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