From a software-defined radio (SDR) perspective, the opportunity for LTE and WiMax to seek a settlement is even more enticing. Flexibility, gate reuse and programmability seem to be the answers to the WiMax-LTE multimode challenge--and that might spell SDR
In todays advanced technology there are many multimode solution for SDR.
So will WiMax and LTE find happiness in Multimode SDR?
While it is true that Multimode solution via SDR has a well-deserved reputation for being expensive and overhyped, it is just as true that telecom chip designers are already adopting SDR techniques. They need to, simply to accommodate changes to ever-evolving standards.
The classic definition of SDR is having arrays of general-purpose processors running virtually all functions in software. But to achieve this is very time consuming and expensive as well. The approach of running all the functions of processor in a software can be expensive and may not be able to hit the price/performance targets of high-data-rate technologies such as WiMax and LTE.
Bit then we knows that the chip technology has never been any better than what it is today. Today’s innovative approaches for significant high standard of hardware architecture can make things simpler and can pave a path for SDR.
Such architectures are very oftern presented in the telecoms world on a regular basis and one such early entry is from Wavesat, which has a long history of designing OFDMA chips. The company has inked agreements with Compal Communications, a mobile-products ODM, to develop mobile WiMax products, and with Willcom, a Japanese telecom company, to develop XG-PHS broadband wireless products using Wavesat's Odyssey 8500 chip set. (http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=208403496&pgno=3)
Wavesat presented the above chipset to both the LTE and WiMax camps. According to WaveSat the chip set is, in reality, a 4G platform that can implement any OFDM-based technology and thus can carry both WiMax and LTE together on it’s shoulders. Odyssey 8500 based on eight DSP cores is one such chipset.
But Wavesat is not the only company in the race of taking efforts towards SDR and hence finding a common solution for LTE and WiMax. Coresonic AB also has a multimode platform based on a new architecture: single instruction stream, multiple tasks. According the Coresonic AB CEO Rich Clucas SIMT can achieve the performance of very long instruction word architecture, but with lower control overhead and much lower program and memory usage.
Most of the big guns in the industry ahs acknowledged that Multimode baseband solutions for LTE and WiMax are challenging, but designing the front-end chip is truly daunting for several reasons, not the least of which is the wide spectrum covered by the two standards--about 4 GHz. LTE would likely support the 900-MHz to 1,900-MHz bands. WiMax has had to scramble to find available spectrum and, depending on region, may operate from 2.3 GHz to 3.5 GHz.
BitWave Semiconductor's programmable RF transceiver promises a way through the multimode thicket. Prototypes of BitWave's Softransceiver RFIC are already in the hands of selected ODMs Handsets and femtocells that incorporate the technology should launch next year. BitWave's technology digitally tunes passive circuit elements to make the analog functions such as LNAs, filters and mixers programmable.
With these new technologies in play, a little harmonization will go a long way. Everybody in the industry knows one thing very well that LTE is still very much in its development stage, Nor is WiMax standing still. Meanwhile the 802.16m task group is working to complete improvements that will make it look a lot like cellular, with such things as hand-offs. So even though there is air of some peace and vibes of togetherness between the two camps they are still looking to outdo the each other. Both LTE and WiMax camps are burning the midnight oil to achieve the perfect solution and if possible go alone.
WiMax camp knows very well that their technology is a proven one and is at a very advanced stage. They know very well that they can go places in the two to three years, the time it will take to even bring the LTE standard to commercial viability.
There is no doubt that LTE camp is worried that WiMax might chew up traditional cell market share by the time LTE becomes available commercially. In my view there is no doubt LTE and WiMax will merge down the road, but I think it will be the LTE folks doing the adapting. WiMax is here and will dominate. It is already dominating despite the puff fantasies of media reports to the contrary.