Boards/Backplanes

RFSoC Development Kit for mmWave speeds wireless design

23rd September 2020
Mick Elliott

An mmWave Radio Development Kit for Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC Gen-3 has been released by Avnet.

The new Radio Development Kit enables system architects to explore the entire signal chain from the RF in millimetre wave spectrum to digital by harnessing the integration of Xilinx RFSoC Gen-3 for direct-RF sampling at intermediate frequencies up to 6 GHz.

The kit combines the DTRX2 mmWave Radio daughtercard – jointly developed by Otava and Avnet – with the Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC ZCU208 Evaluation Kit from Xilinx.

Using MATLAB and Simulink from MathWorks, the kit enables users to quickly develop wideband mmWave wireless systems across a range of applications including 5G NR in the FR2 bands, K and Ka-band Satcom, radar and aerospace and defense uses.

“Avnet’s development solutions are built to make even the most cutting-edge technology more accessible to our customers so they can stay ahead of the design curve,” said Jim Beneke, vice president, Products and Emerging Technologies, Avnet. “The Avnet mmWave Radio Development Kit enables customers to develop best-in-class wireless solutions with 5G capabilities in the FR2 bands on a seamless, easy-to-use platform built in collaboration with Xilinx, Otava and MathWorks.”

The DTRX2 card is a dual-channel transmit/receive mmWave radio platform built around best-in-class, off-the-shelf mmWave components to achieve high bandwidth and high performance. Specifically, the kit provides 2 TX/RX up/down converters to convert the IF signals between integrated high-speed RF-DACs and RF-ADCs within the Xilinx RFSoC Gen-3 device to mmWave frequencies ranging from 20 to 30 GHz.

Users may add their own antenna front end or use a compatible 8x8 dual-polarised antenna array jointly developed between Otava and Avnet for hybrid beamforming applications and massive-MIMO radio.

Native connection to MATLAB and Simulink is provided with Avnet's RFSoC Explorer application and Free MATLAB Trial Package for Wireless communications from MathWorks.

“The Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC solves system-level challenges by integrating more of the RF signal chain, providing lower power, smaller footprint and better performance than discrete solutions. Avnet’s kit continues that strategy by solving system-level challenges for prototype and deployment. Their addition of a daughtercard with 2 TX/RX up/downconverters to the Xilinx ZCU208 allows designers to test our RF-class analogue in millimetre-wave applications. By providing a direct connection to MATLAB and Simulink, Avnet has made it even easier for engineers to develop applications for Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoCs right out of the box,” said David Brubaker, senior product line manager, Wired and Wireless Group, Xilinx.

Otava is a fabless mixed-signal IC design company founded in 2017 in Moorestown, N.J. Otava’s goal is to provide best-in-class wideband millimetre wave SoC components and turn-key system solutions in emerging wireless markets.

"Millimetre wave is an exciting arena because of the promise of high instantaneous bandwidth, but it is quite challenging to design due to its myriad of sensitivities and impairments. Otava has more than a decade of experience in the wideband millimetre wave field,” said Victoria Pereira, CEO, Otava. “Working with the Avnet team to co-develop a wideband millimetre wave transceiver system from RF to bits, we can accelerate the development of high-performance wireless applications targeting Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC Gen-3 on Xilinx ZCU208.”

Technical specifications:

Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC ZCU208 Evaluation Kit

  • Zynq UltraScale+ RFSoC Gen 3 ZU48DR on the ZCU208 board
  • Full sub-6GHz with extended mmWave and multi-band support
  • Integrated direct RF-sampling enabling RF design in the digital domain
  • 8x 14-bit resolution 5GSPS RF-ADCs
  • 8x 14-bit resolution 10GSPS RF-DACs
  • 8x SD-FEC cores
  • Lidless package for improved thermal dissipation
  • Included CLK104 Module and breakout cards

Otava DTRX2 Millimetre Wave Radio daughtercard for Xilinx ZCU208 Evaluation Kit

  • Dual 20-30 GHz TX upconverters to up-convert the I/F signals from Xilinx RFSoC integrated RF-DACs
  • Dual 20-30 GHz RX downconverters to down-convert to I/F signals to Xilinx RFSoC integrated RF-ADCs
  • 2x LO PLLs comprised of integrated frequency synthesiser and an on-chip VCO
  • Digital Step Attenuators (DSA) for gain control via SPI and parallel interfaces
  • Digital control to enable/disable each signal chain depending on the TDD mode of operation
  • TDD and FDD modes supported with appropriate RF front-end
  • Power management section to generate all the necessary voltage rails for the devices on the DTRX2 daughtercard

Avnet RFSoC Explorer for MATLAB and Simulink

  • Signal capture and analysis with MATLAB and Simulink
  • Radio-in-the-loop co-simulation over gigabit Ethernet 

The Avnet mmWave Radio Development Kit for RFSoC Gen-3 will be available in November 2020 for $19,995.

 

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