Flexible ultra-wideband channelizer offers ultimate radio receiver

June 14, 2011 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
RF Engines Limited (RFEL) is claiming to have taken a large step towards creating the ultimate radio receiver which is capable of detecting and processing signals across all of the radio spectrum, all of the time. The UK company is introducing an innovative and highly flexible, ultra-wideband, Channelizer IP core – the ChannelCore Flex.

RFEL anticipates that the ChannelCore Flex will find widespread application in areas including electronic surveillance, satellite communications and future base station architectures, where concurrent monitoring, detection and demodulation of a communication channels are required.     

Channelization is a relatively straight forward signal-processing task. For example, a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) can efficiently process a wideband signal into over 1000 channels. However, this can only be done with limitations:

  • The channels all have equal bandwidths, which is inflexible and problematic when processing different types of transmissions concurrently. 
  • The bandwidth of individual channels is inversely proportional to the number of channels supported. 
  • The centre frequencies of the channels are uniformly spaced and are not independently controllable. 
  • There is limited control of the frequency response of the individual channels, leading to compromised stop-band and pass-band performance. 
  • It cannot be readily interfaced to existing hardware due to differing sampling rates and data formats.     

More advanced signal processing techniques such as Weighted Over-Lap and Add (WOLA) pre-processing and hierarchical channelization using a Pipelined Frequency Transform (PFT) can overcome many of these limitations. RFEL has adopted the enhancements together with other proprietary techniques to create an ultra-wideband Channelizer that offers unrivalled performance and flexibility, enabling it to be tailored to bespoke applications while remaining hardware efficient.       

ChannelCore Flex is capable of being configured to support many thousands of channels, spanning an input bandwidth exceeding 1 GHz. Importantly, these channels can have individual bandwidths that can vary by several orders of magnitude, be overlapped to accommodate broadband transmissions, and have centre frequencies and sample rates that can be independently tuneable to sub-Hertz resolution (≤1 Hz). The end result is a Channelizer architecture that can be configured to support concurrent monitoring of multiple channels, with bandwidths ranging from as large as hundreds of Megahertz, to as narrow as a few Hertz, delivering an overall aggregate channelized sample rate that can exceed 1 Gs/s.