mmX is a low-power, low-cost network for 5G connectivity: A true enabler for the Internet of Things

mmX device via University of Waterloo

Researchers at the University of Waterloo have developed a cheaper and more efficient method for Internet-of-Things devices to receive high-speed wireless connectivity.

With 75 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices expected to be in place by 2025, a growing strain will be placed on requirements of wireless networks. Contemporary WiFi and cellular networks won’t be enough to support the influx of IoT devices, the researchers highlighted in their new study.

Millimeter wave (mmWave), a network that offers multi-gigahertz of unlicensed bandwidth — more than 200 times that allocated to today’s WiFi and cellular networks, can be used to address the looming issue. In fact, 5G networks are going to be powered by mmWave technology. However, the hardware required to use mmWave is expensive and power-hungry, which are significant deterrents to it being deployed in many IoT applications.

“To address the existing challenges in exploiting mmWave for IoT applications we created a novel mmWave network called mmX,” said Omid Abari, an assistant professor in Waterloo’s David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. “mmX significantly reduces cost and power consumption of a mmWave network enabling its use in all IoT applications.”

In comparison to WiFi and Bluetooth, which are slow for many IoT applications, mmX provides much higher bitrate.

“mmX will not only improve our WiFi and wireless experience, as we will receive much faster internet connectivity for all IoT devices, but it can also be used in applications, such as, virtual reality, autonomous cars, data centers and wireless cellular networks,” said Ali Abedi, a postdoctoral fellow at the Cheriton School of Computer Science. “Any sensor you have in your home, which traditionally used WiFi and lower frequency can now communicate using high-speed millimeter wave networks.

“Autonomous cars are also going to use a huge number of sensors in them which will be connected through wire; now you can make all of them wireless and more reliable.”

Learn more: Researchers develop low-power, low-cost network for 5G connectivity

 

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Self-localization algorithm developed for locating and tracking of 50 billion connected products in the 2020 Internet-of-Things

via Tufts University

The vast number of devices connected on 5G networks can help locate themselves, rather than rely on centralized “anchors”

Anticipating a critical strain on the ability of fifth generation (5G) networks to keep track of a rapidly growing number of mobile devices, engineers at Tufts University have come up with an improved algorithm for localizing and tracking these products that distributes the task among the devices themselves. It is a scalable solution that could meet the demands of a projected 50 billion connected products in the Internet-of-Things by 2020, and would enable a widening range of location-based services. The results of the Tufts study were published today in Proceedings of the IEEE, the leading peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Currently, positioning of wireless devices is centralized, depending on “anchors” with known locations such as cell towers or GPS satellites to communicate directly with each device. As the number of devices increases, anchors must be installed at higher density. Centralized positioning can become unwieldy as the number of items to track grows significantly.

As an alternative to centralized solutions, the authors’ method of distributed localization in a 5G network has the devices locate themselves without all of them needing direct access to anchors. Sensing and calculations are done locally on the device, so there is no need for a central coordinator to collect and process the data.

“The need to provide location awareness of every device, sensor, or vehicle, whether stationary or moving, is going to figure more prominently in the future,” said Usman Khan, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the School of Engineering at Tufts University. “There will be applications for tracking assets and inventory, healthcare, security, agriculture, environmental science, military operations, emergency response, industrial automation, self-driving vehicles, robotics – the list is endless. The virtually limitless potential of the Internet-of-Things requires us to develop smart decentralized algorithms,” said Khan, who is the paper’s corresponding author.

The self-localization algorithm developed by Khan and his colleagues makes use of device-to-device communication, and so can take place indoors (e.g., in offices and manufacturing facilities), underground, underwater, or under thick cloud cover. This is an advantage over GPS systems, which not only can go dark under those conditions, but also adds to the cost and power requirements of the device.

The mobility of the devices makes self-localization challenging. The key is to obtain positions rapidly to track them in real-time, which means the calculations must be simplified without sacrificing accuracy. The authors accomplished this by substituting the non-linear position calculations, which are computationally demanding and can miss their mark if the initial guess at position is in the wrong place, with a linear model that quickly and reliably converges on the accurate position of the device. The move to a computationally simpler linear calculation emerges as a result of the devices measuring their location relative to each other or a point representing the “center of mass” of neighboring devices, rather than having all of them reference a set of stationary anchors. Convergence to accurate positions is extremely fast, making real-time tracking of a large number of devices feasible.

“In addition to preparing us for a future of ubiquitous connected devices, this approach could relieve pressure on the current infrastructure by removing the need to install a lot of transmitters (anchors) in buildings and neighborhoods,” said Khan.

Learn more: Researchers devise more effective location awareness for the Internet-of-(many)-Things

 

 

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World first demonstration of virtualised 5G architecture

via University of Surrey

via University of Surrey

The University of Surrey’s 5GIC (part of the Institute for Communications Systems) has – for the first time worldwide – produced a full demonstration of its FDC, which points to a significant reduction in deployment, optimisation and upgrade costs for network operators.
  • 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the University of Surrey announces first full demonstration of an Orchestrated, NFV (Network Function Virtualisation) based virtualised  ‘Flat  Distributed Cloud’ (FDC) 5G core network architecture
  • New orchestrated virtualised architecture enables rapid speed of deployment, flexibility of complex combinations, and swift software updates and feature additions
  • FDC will significantly reduce installation and maintenance costs for network operators, making the delivery of a 5G network more commercially viable
  • Demonstration produced by researchers at the University of Surrey’s Institute for Communications Systems, home of 5G Innovation Centre, with partners including Cisco, Huawei and Quortus

The FDC was demonstrated over LTE-A (an advanced version of the Long Term Evolution network) on an end to end basis between off-the shelf mobiles and internet and traditional intranet services.

The 5G network – the next generation communication network which will support the Internet of Things, by which billions of devices will become connected – will demand a far more complex infrastructure than existing networks and require a high level of ongoing optimisation and maintenance. Currently, operating expenses represent a major cost for network operators, who typically pay vendors to install bespoke equipment and subsequently carry out each software update and patch.

The virtualised 5G architecture is orchestrated to the cloud and based on off-the-shelf Intel-based server blades running Linux OS. This means that the operator can rapidly deploy multiple Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) as Network Services, and no longer requires engineers to go out to the network’s physical sites to perform upgrades. It also enables operators to buy software from different vendors. The speed of deployment of VNFs on the FDC is around ten minutes – compared to tens of days for traditional deployment.

The virtualisation demonstration has been produced in association with the EC Horizon 2020 virtualisation project SoftFire, and operates using the FOKUS developed ‘OpenBaton’ orchestrator and established industry VNF controller ‘OpenStack’. The demonstration has been performed by researchers and testbed staff at the University of Surrey in collaboration with Cisco, Huawei and Quortus.

Developed and prototyped by the 5GIC over the past 18 months, the FDC utilises user and network context information in order to provide a more connected experience over a dynamic and distributed cloud based architecture, providing user benefits including better connection and faster throughput.

Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Head of the 5GIC, said, “This successful demonstration of the FDC is a huge step forward towards the development of a viable 5G network that supports mobile broadband, Internet of things and high quality applications such as Ultra High Definition video, Virtual and Augmented Reality applications. The next step for the 5GIC team will be to demonstrate FDC-based network slicing – the partitioning of network resources for different purposes to create the perception of infinite capacity.”

Learn more: World first demonstration of virtualised 5G architecture

 

 

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Here comes 5G cell phones and more using silicon technology

The diagram shows the standard layout of transistors in cell phone power amplifiers, at left, and a new highly efficient amplifier design at right. The new design could help make possible next-generation cell phones, low-cost collision-avoidance radar for cars and lightweight microsatellites for communications. (Purdue University image)

The diagram shows the standard layout of transistors in cell phone power amplifiers, at left, and a new highly efficient amplifier design at right. The new design could help make possible next-generation cell phones, low-cost collision-avoidance radar for cars and lightweight microsatellites for communications. (Purdue University image)

Thanks to a breakthrough by Purdue researchers, 5G cell phones may be hitting shelves in the near future.

Saeed Mohammadi, an associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue, is leading a team of doctoral students that recently published their research. What he and his team have done is, for the first time, create power amplifiers (components commonly used in cell phones) using silicon technology that are efficient enough to be suitable for 5G cell phones.

Compared to the 4G standard, 5G will require more bandwidth and faster processing, which naturally requires more power. Achieving more power while keeping the components small used to be considered too difficult a task for current silicon technology, so the phone industry turned to expensive gallium arsenide, the material that makes up power amplifiers in 4G cell phones. Purdue researchers, however, found that silicon components can indeed reach the required power when put together correctly.

Mohammadi said that his research will allow smaller components to be created. He used the analogy of television, describing how old box TVs used to be large because of the scattered parts inside of it. Modern TVs are smaller because everything inside is a single package, much like an integrated circuit.

The implications of this research are hard to say for certain, as explained by Mohammadi and one of his doctoral students, Yingheng Tang.

Both said that the application of their research is limited by the direction of big companies such as Samsung, Apple, Google and Qualcomm. Many of those companies are focusing on integrating wireless internet into everyday devices such as clothes and appliances. To achieve the data transfer rate required for such connectivity, power amplifiers that can operate at high frequencies are required. Other uses for this research include microsatellites that can be used to replace cell phone towers or collision avoidance radar for cars.

Tang and the other doctoral students have been talking to industry professionals about the possible applications of Purdue’s research, though many companies are reluctant to share what they’re working on.

“It’s hard,” he said. “None of the companies want to tell us what they’re working on, so we can’t tailor the research to what they need. Only Qualcomm told us that our research will have great use in 5G technologies.”

As is often the case when it comes to the origin of commercial products, the Purdue team’s research began as part of a military program.

“It started, I guess, back in 2009,” Mohammadi said. “At the time, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency had this program, this idea that asked whether or not it would be possible to make silicon transmitter integrated circuits. We were selected as one of the teams to compete and we tried different approaches. Eventually, one of the approaches we came across started to work. However, efficiency was very low. So, a couple of my doctoral students actually looked into why that was the case.”

Purdue’s team competed against a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a team from Columbia, a team from the University of California — San Diego and even a number of defense contractors. Mohammadi said that all of the teams demonstrated excellent silicon circuits that could output high power, but none of them could show efficiencies above 30 percent. Only Purdue reached the benchmark.

Learn more: Purdue research could lead to faster cell phone technology

 

 

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New Technology May Immediately Double Existing Radio Frequency Data Capacity

Image courtesy Jin Zhou and Harish Krishnaswamy, Columbia Engineering CoSMIC (Columbia high-Speed and Mm-wave IC) Lab full-duplex transceiver IC that can be implemented in nanoscale CMOS to enable simultaneous transmission and reception at the same frequency in a wireless radio.

Image courtesy Jin Zhou and Harish Krishnaswamy, Columbia Engineering
CoSMIC (Columbia high-Speed and Mm-wave IC) Lab full-duplex transceiver IC that can be implemented in nanoscale CMOS to enable simultaneous transmission and reception at the same frequency in a wireless radio.

Columbia Engineers Invent Nanoscale IC That Enables Simultaneous Transmission and Reception at the Same Frequency in a Wireless Radio

A team of Columbia Engineering researchers has invented a technology—full-duplex radio integrated circuits (ICs)—that can be implemented in nanoscale CMOS to enable simultaneous transmission and reception at the same frequency in a wireless radio. Up to now, this has been thought to be impossible: transmitters and receivers either work at different times or at the same time but at different frequencies. The Columbia team, led by Electrical Engineering Associate Professor Harish Krishnaswamy, is the first to demonstrate an IC that can accomplish this. The researchers presented their work at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco on February 25.

“This is a game-changer,” says Krishnaswamy. “By leveraging our new technology, networks can effectively double the frequency spectrum resources available for devices like smartphones and tablets.”

In the era of Big Data, the current frequency spectrum crisis is one of the biggest challenges researchers are grappling with and it is clear that today’s wireless networks will not be able to support tomorrow’s data deluge. Today’s standards, such as 4G/LTE, already support 40 different frequency bands, and there is no space left at radio frequencies for future expansion. At the same time, the grand challenge of the next-generation 5G network is to increase the data capacity by 1,000 times.

So the ability to have a transmitter and receiver re-use the same frequency has the potential to immediately double the data capacity of today’s networks. Krishnaswamy notes that other research groups and startup companies have demonstrated the theoretical feasibility of simultaneous transmission and reception at the same frequency, but no one has yet been able to build tiny nanoscale ICs with this capability.

“Our work is the first to demonstrate an IC that can receive and transmit simultaneously,” he says. “Doing this in an IC is critical if we are to have widespread impact and bring this functionality to handheld devices such as cellular handsets, mobile devices such as tablets for WiFi, and in cellular and WiFi base stations to support full duplex communications.”

Read more: New Technology May Double Radio Frequency Data Capacity

 

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