Friday, September 22, 2006

Brian Evans – Improving Communication Systems Throughput

One of NI’s Lead Users is Brian Evans, professor at the University of Texas. He specializes in signal processing algorithms, in particular, embedded signal processing. In the past he worked on in-camera image processing methods to improve the composition of pictures taken by users.

Currently, he focuses on communications systems. He has two projects underway—one is wired and the other wireless. In the wired area he works on improving the data rate to ADSL end users so they get the most out of their line. He models the bit rate based on the standard so he can redesign the equalizer in the receiver and thus optimize the performance of a system through improved filter coefficients. The work includes multi-input multi-output (MIMO) discrete tone multi-tone modulation. Brian and his team created a LabVIEW-based toolkit for simulating a multicarrier wired communication system. The simulator follows the ADSL2 ITU-T G.992.3 standard, and can be downloaded here.

In the wireless area, Brian focuses on improving the data rate from the base station to the end user. By coordinating multiple users of a base station, he can increase the data rate. As the complexity of the system increases, software becomes the enabling technology. The WiMAX standard (802.16 family) and the 3G standard makes use of multiple base stations to maximize usage of the base station frequency.

I asked about trends in market and what he saw as important developments. In the embedded area he talked about the rise of digital signal processors (DSPs) in the 1990s but today only 1/3 of the revenue is in the DSP while the ASIC accounts for the rest. ASIC and FPGA-based designs are expanding away from the stand alone chip. There will be bigger growth in ASIC design technologies including processors, microcontroller boards, PIC boards, custom logic, etc. Brian sited a report from Forward Concepts about the direction of the market here.

I asked about new areas he would like to explore, and he mentioned software defined radio since the consumer side is picking up. You can see more information about his group’s work here.

Best regards,
Hall T.