National Instruments, the provider of a software-defined platform that helps accelerate the development and performance of automated test and automated measurement systems, and Spirent Communications plc announced their collaboration to develop test systems for 5G New Radio (NR) devices. The collaboration will allow 5G chipset and device manufacturers to validate the performance of 5G NR smartphones and IoT devices in the lab without requiring access to expensive and complex 5G base stations (gNodeBs).
Recently the 5G standards body, 3GPP, officially approved the first round of 5G specifications in June 2018. This important step will be followed by the specification of new architectural options and additional capabilities as the standard is expanded over the coming months and years. Consequently, device test solutions must be flexible to quickly adapt to these changes and to allow future upgrades while avoiding costly hardware changes as the standards evolve.
To that end, Spirent Communications, a recognized leader in ensuring the performance of devices and network services, has adopted NI’s flexible software defined radio (SDR) products in the development of its 5G performance solution. Spirent’s solution will employ NI’s USRP (Universal Software Radio Peripheral) devices and mmWave Transceiver System and will include 5G NR test scenarios for mobile location, video, data, audio, and calling performance. Key architectural details of the solution include the use of LabVIEW FPGA to emulate layer 1 through layer 3 of the 5G NR protocol stack.
"Building on the strength of NI’s early success in 5G research and prototyping, combined with the modularity of its platform, accelerates initial interoperability and means our customers can feel confident that the platform can adapt to the evolving standards," said Rob VanBrunt, general manager of Spirent’s Connected Devices business unit. "5G test engineers already recognize NI’s off-the-shelf platform as the industry’s most flexible and powerful hardware available. Integrating their advanced signal processing capabilities into our 8100 platform enables an attractive upgrade path for our existing customers."
The new 5G performance test solution will include support for both sub-6 GHz and millimeter-wave radio bands and will integrate seamlessly into Spirent’s existing network emulation platform. The system will also feature up to 2 GHz of bandwidth.
“The marriage of our high-performance platform and Spirent’s best-in-class test methodology for measuring the mobile user experience is exciting for the industry,” said James Kimery, director of wireless research at NI. “Being able to assess the accuracy of cellular location in 5G environments and measuring the performance of video and data delivery are critical needs as 5G devices come on line starting in 2019.”