UQAR Students Use NI AWR Software for Unique High-Efficiency PA Design for LTE and MIMO Small-Cell Base Station
Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) is part of Université du Québec, the biggest university network in Canada with over 86,000 students. With its attractive undergraduate and graduate research and teaching programs, UQAR welcomes some 6,500 students every year, more than 400 of whom are international students from over 35 countries.
It has one of the province’s highest success rates and its graduates are widely sought after by employers who recognize the quality of their training. Students in the electrical engineering program receive a solid grounding in mathematics, physics, and electrical engineering fundamentals. Upper-level study provides the opportunity to choose from a large range of modules such as analog electronics, power electronics, control and automation, computer hardware, electromagnetics, microprocessor applications, power systems, signal processing, and telecommunications.
The Design Challenge
Mobile data consumption has exploded over the last decade and is predicted to grow 10x between 2013 and 2019. In 2013, traffic generated by mobile phones exceeded that generated by mobile PCs, tablets, and routers (Ericsson Mobility Report, Nov. 2013). To meet this demand, carriers are investing heavily in small-cell base stations. However, small-cell architecture has major implications for the wireless base station industry because the power amplifiers (PA) within these devices are a major source of power consumption. The small-cell architecture requires medium power range (200 mW – 5 W for RF PA), flexible wideband transceivers, and distributed multiple-in/multiple-out (MIMO) or steerable antennas. Because wide-signal bandwidth drives baseband-power consumption in radio access, ultra high-speed signal converters (DACs and ADCs) are needed, as well as very high sampling frequencies (heavy processing).
The UQAR design team of students led by Dr. Chan-Wang Park decided to develop a PA to be used with 5G MIMO multi-carrier signals. Because they wanted to be able to linearize the PA in the future and it was necessary to correct the nonlinearity of the PA by using a neural network predistortion linearizer, volterra, or polynomial predistortion linearizer, they chose NI AWR Design Environment™.
The design team was able to achieve first-pass PA design success by using NI AWR Design Environment software (inclusive of Microwave Office and AXIEM), NI RF PXIe platform and Modelithics scalable high-frequency models. By programming with LabVIEW they were able to get fast test results, saving testing time.
The test results were analyzed directly in the LabVIEW environment. Further, the team was able to develop a simplified solution to use in future telecommunication system standards such as the 5G MIMO system.
Using this design methodology and NI AWR Design Environment with Modelithics models, the design team was awarded second place in the IMS Student Power Amplifier Design Competition in IEEE International Microwave Symposium.
Why NI AWR Design Environment?
The design team chose NI AWR Design Environment for the design of this high-efficiency PA (HPA) for a 4G LTE wireless-communication base station not only because of its ability to correctly model and predict performance of the actual circuit but also because of its integration with other NI products and Modelithics high accuracy model libraries that greatly aided them in going faster from design all the way through to prototype and successful test.
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