PA Consulting Group develops the World's first all-software base band for W-CDMA 3G base stations
PA Consulting Group has announced the availability of Release 1 of its software base band solution for wideband CDMA (W-CDMA) Third Generation (3G) base stations. This is the first all-software base band for W-CDMA base stations and will enable future base stations to be less expensive, much more flexible and able to offer a better performance compared with conventional solutions. The technology - a world first - is available to base station manufacturers wishing to develop advanced differentiated base station products to capitalize on the rapidly growing worldwide market for 3G infrastructure.
The base band section is the core part of a 3G base station - it implements the W-CDMA processing that is key to providing the advanced high data rate services that distinguish 3G. Until now, the high volume of processing involved has required complex hardware and software design solutions. But this leads to high costs, inflexibility to change, and restrictions in performance. This is a serious problem because the base station is the most numerous and costly part of 3G networks due for deployment around the world over the next few years, and base stations also have a critical impact on end-to-end system performance.
PA's innovative solution is to provide W-CDMA functionality in software. With this approach, general-purpose processors are used in place of specialized electronic hardware. This cuts costs both during development and in production. It is also possible to change the functionality of the base station by loading new software. This is important because 3G standards are still changing fast, as are the requirements of network operators. It is also possible to load the new software over the network, avoiding the expensive site visits that are otherwise necessary when changes are required.
Processing can be tuned to suit individual users (ie differing types of mobiles and radio conditions between user and base station), something which is much more difficult with hardware-based solutions. This is important because the best processing approach varies considerably for different type of mobile users and for different radio conditions. PA has developed some exciting new ways of exploiting this added flexibility to achieve substantial performance improvements compared with conventional systems.
PA's software base band solution is designed to integrate easily with different base station designs, ranging from large macro cell base stations to compact pico cell systems. All of the processing is carried out using high performance digital signal processing (DSP) processors, and an easy-to-use interface is provided to connect the system to the base station control and call processing functionality.
Release 1 of the software base band demonstrates the implementation of multiple asynchronous users running on a single processor. This is a key step and demonstrates for the first time that the demanding real-time and multi-processing requirements of a W-CDMA basestation can be achieved in software. Later releases will implement more detailed aspects of the processing, together with some advanced features such as smart antennas and the emerging HSDPA system for high-speed data users.
Alan Carr, a member of PA's Management Group comments:
"We are proud to be first with a solution which will form the future of basestation design. The advantages it brings will enable manufacturers to achieve product differentiation in a highly competitive market, speed up their product development and cut costs - all factors which will determine successful players in the rapidly growing market for 3G infrastructure."