NXP Airs Software-Defined RadioApril 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.
Subscribe to the Microprocessor Report and always get the full story!