nVidia's Tegra 4 has SDR - the i500 LTE soft modem from Icera

http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/07/nvidia-i500-soft-modem/

From Icera’s previous products list, looks like the bandwidth is 5~10MHz

http://www.nvidia.com/object/nvidia-icera-products.html

Is it possible that Tegra 4 is yet another cheap SDR solution like
rtlsdr?

On Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 4:08 AM, est [email protected] wrote:

http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/07/nvidia-i500-soft-modem/

From Icera’s previous products list, looks like the bandwidth is 5~10MHz

http://www.nvidia.com/object/nvidia-icera-products.html

Is it possible that Tegra 4 is yet another cheap SDR solution like rtlsdr?

Looks interesting. I’d be interested to see what products come out that
we
could get access to (physical and logical).

Tom

I don’t have high hopes for this specific chip - I guess the IC will be
hard to buy and the modem feature on built devices will hard to hack,
lacking source and documentation for its drivers, just as Android
devices
are hard for cyanogenmod developers to hack with.

But these news do give some hope, the hope that more accessible high-end
ARMs chips like TI’s and Freescales’ will follow up and incorporate
these
features in the future. Indeed, I am already working on a
beaglebone-based
SDR and this would be great.

2013/1/7 Tom R. [email protected]

I don’t have high hopes for this specific chip - I guess the IC will
be hard to buy and the modem feature on built devices will hard to
hack, lacking source and documentation for its drivers, just as
Android devices are hard for cyanogenmod developers to hack with.

But these news do give some hope, the hope that more accessible
high-end ARMs chips like TI’s and Freescales’ will follow up and
incorporate these features in the future. Indeed, I am already working
on a beaglebone-based SDR and this would be great.

It looks to me like this SoftModem chip is just an array of speciality
CPUs. What I want to see is details of ADC/DAC and the RF-to-baseband
transceivers – those aren’t part of the same chip.


Marcus L.
Principal Investigator
Shirleys Bay Radio Astronomy Consortium
http://www.sbrac.org

According to this web page:
http://www.fudzilla.com/home/item/30024-icera-i500-is-programmable-lte

And the features of Icera’s previous platforms:
http://www.nvidia.com/object/nvidia-icera-products.html

On the photo from CES, Icera i500 platform has 8 processors on it, each
one contains its own memory. From Icera’s product feature page, each
platform contains one baseband chip and one RF IC. I think the photo
depicted on CES is the baseband chip only. So this SDR platform contains
8 processors, probably specialized digital signal processors that have
their own unique instruction set. Icera does not provide any
hardware/software development tool, e.g. compiler, assembler, or
emulator. So the instruction set is not open. They provide whole
baseband chip with physical/protocol layer in software, encrypted I
guess. From normal user’s point of view, it will be hard to hack.

I know this because I am also from communication IC industry, even we
have flexible processors or coprocessors, we’ll make it hard to hack. :stuck_out_tongue:
But I won’t say it’s impossible, it just takes a lot of time. With those
hacking time, I’d rather spend time to build a scalable computer farm
that can do distributed SDR. I think the next move of GNU Radio is
toward this by introducing ICE?

Best Regards,

Albert Huang

Alex Z. [email protected] writes:

On Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 11:29 AM, Marcus D. Leech [email protected] wrote:

    drivers, just as Android devices are hard for cyanogenmod
speciality CPUs.  What I want to see is details of ADC/DAC and the




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Albert Chun-Chieh H.(黃俊傑)
Blog: Random Notes, http://alberthuang314.blogspot.com/

Hi Albert,

If that is as you said, Icera won’t open the instruction set and develop
tool, and all the software are encrypted. Then this chipset is not
suitable
for people like GNU Radio guys to DIY something. So, what is the major
market of this chipset? Cellphone manufactor? Let them to develop more
diverse products?

I paid attention to Icera’s solution for a long time. I hope there will
be
a small chipset which can be used as CPU plus USRP, with low power
comsumption, suitable for mobile terminal. Based on your knowledge on
industry, do you think when and what kind of solution may come to
market?
What is ‘a scalable computer farm
that can do distributed SDR’ that you said?

Regards
Lin

2013/1/9 Albert Chun-Chieh H. [email protected]

Can anybody explain the difference between this softmodem and other
existing wireless baseband programmable processors?
My understanding is that, also as Marcus mentioned, it provides more
flexibility by this array of special CPUs instead of the prefixed
functions/blocks, within this chip. Otherwise, it won’t bring big
novelty.

As to the ADC/DAC and RF part, maybe we need to wait for the whole SDR
solution to be unveiled.

On Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 11:29 AM, Marcus D. Leech [email protected]
wrote:

It looks to me like this SoftModem chip is just an array of speciality

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Alex,
Dreams can come true just believe.

Hi, Lin,

According to Icera’s previous product lines, there is no any
documentation for instruction sets. I think their market is the same as
Qualcomm’s, i.e. cell phone manufactorurs. TI has a digital signal
processor C6670, which targets base stations. It contains some
coprocessors, e.g. turbo encoder/decoder, FFT coprocessors, to perform
signal processing tasks. TI provides detailed documentation for DSP
instruction set as well as these coprocessor configuration. IMHO, TI
C6670 is more suitable for GNU Radio guys to DIY something. C6670 EVM
has Gigabit Ethernet interface to connect to USRP N2xx and is sold at
the price of USD$599. You can find information for C6670 at
http://processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/C6670

IMHO, to do SDR on “generalized” CPU like x86 is very difficult to
achieve low power consumption if the targeted standard is cellular
communication. I would guess that Icera’s approach is using some SIMD
processors with instruction set specialized for signal processing tasks,
such as FFT, Turbo codec, Rake receivers. Optimizing programs with that
kind of instruction set requires long-time training and careful
tuning. And I guess they use assembly to write these programs in order
to save memory footprint and hence reduce die size of the chip. But
that’s just my guess.

Software radio, as I imagine and expect, would be very easy to program
in high level language with a lot of flexibility and many
already-existed components. If computing power is not enough to perform
real-time communication on a single computer, it is reasonable to split
tasks among several computers. On ICE’s website, it is compared to
CORBA, which is a distributed computing framework/service. By
introducing ICE into GNU Radio, as I expect happily, would make
distributed SDR possible, that means if we need more computing power for
real-time communication, we might be able to add more computers with
careful splitting tasks among these computers! And these programs are
written in high level languages! That makes developing communication
more enjoyable than writing and tuning assembly code!

Cheers,

Albert

Lin HUANG [email protected] writes:

comsumption, suitable for mobile terminal. Based on your knowledge on

that can do distributed SDR
will be a small chipset which can be used as CPU plus USRP, with low
I’d rather spend time to build a scalable computer farm
that can do distributed SDR


Albert Chun-Chieh H.(黃俊傑)
Blog: Random Notes, http://alberthuang314.blogspot.com/

Thanks for your opinion sharing. I’ll read the links you gave.

I’m thinking that the advantage of software radio is its flexibility but
this flexibility is constrained by standards of telecommunication. I
mean
when you create a telecom device you have to follow standard, so that
less
space is left for your innovation. That’s why software radio is majorly
used in research activities or military systems. In consumer electronic
products, ASIC is always the best performance-price choice.

Only when the two ends (network and terminal) of telecommunication can
be
self-defined, the constrain of standard is broken then people can create
anything freely.

Anyway, this may be a wrong proposition, and an impossible mission.

Regards
Lin

2013/1/14 Albert Chun-Chieh H. [email protected]

In consumer electronic products, ASIC is always the best
performance-price choice.

Even with LTE you have to deal with 12 freq. bands?

Well, for this case, is the solution with multiple RF modules plus one
BB
module OK? The BB modules for different bands are almost same, right? Or
do
you think a very wide band RF module plus a BB module is better? I’m not
expert on chipset design. What’s your opinion?

There are different levels of flexibility. As we talk about software
radio,
Icera’s solution may be not ‘soft’ enough, but it may be a good choice
for
cellphone manufacturer.

BR
Lin

2013/1/15 est [email protected]

Hello, just an update for the official i500 spec whitepaper.

http://www.nvidia.com/docs/IO/116757/NVIDIA_i500_whitepaper_FINALv3.pdf

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