Millimetre-wave wireless transmission

over-the-air communication with extremely high data rates

There is a growing demand for wireless transmission rates of several gigabits per second – and this presents an enormous technical challenge. There are only two way of meeting this challenge: either increasing spectral efficiency, or by exploiting frequency resources that have not yet been used in mobile communications.

There is current discussion on the use of the 60 GHz band for applications requiring high data rates. Examples of this are as Gigabit WLAN and wireless multimedia access. For example, downloading a DVD onto a 5 GB memory stick with a net data rate of 5 Gigabits per second would only take 8 seconds. Of course, this offers significant market potential, and also opens opportunities for important research.

A number of new developments have sparked great interest in millimetre-wave radio transmission. For example, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has 7 GHz of unlicensed spectrum in the 60GHz band. Never before has such a large bandwidth for wireless communication been available and technologically usable. This bandwidth can be exploited to achieve data rates of several gigabits per second.

The main objective is to enable the commercial exploitation of the new mm-wave radio transmission with ultra-high data rates, and thereby promote the development of new products based on it. Important milestones include the construction of a comprehensive demonstrator for high-quality streaming video for plane travel and automobiles, and the design of easy-to-use wireless data connections between laptops and devices such as camcorders and mobile phones.

The QStream project

For this project, we at IAF have collaborated with several European partners to create a 60 GHz radio link that delivers speeds of up to 6 GB/s. To help achieve this, we developed a very fast A/D and D/A converter with a sampling rate of 2GHz. We combined this with our FFP (Fast Flexible Prototyping) Basic+ FPGA motherboard to create the Qstream demonstrator.

In addition, we developed algorithms for the OFDM baseband signal processing. Due to the very high data rates, signal processing had to be implemented in a parallel architecture. The Qstream project was led by the company NXP Semiconductors, whose goal is the development of RF transceiver chips for 60 GHz.

Qstream’s objectives were to design and implement a strategy for the successful realization of low-cost, highly-integrated, ultra-high-data-rate streaming applications in the 60 GHz band, and to build a demonstrator for the practical evaluation of radio transmission. The project was completed successfully.