Software-Defined Radio

What Is Software-Defined Radio?

A software-defined radio (SDR) is a wireless device that typically consists of a configurable RF front end with an FPGA or programmable system-on-chip (SoC) to perform digital functions. Commercially available SDR hardware can transmit and receive signals at different frequencies to implement wireless standards from FM radio to 5G, LTE, and WLAN. Figure 1 shows a typical SDR block diagram and its connectivity to MATLAB®.

Figure 1. Block diagram of SDR components and connectivity to MATLAB.

Wireless engineers can use software-defined radio hardware as a cost-effective, real-time platform for a range of wireless engineering tasks, including:

  • Over-the-air lab and field testing with live RF signals
  • Rapid prototyping of custom radio functions
  • Hands-on learning of wireless communications concepts and design skills

Wireless engineers can also work with various wireless standards such as 5G, LTE, DVB-S2, and others using SDR and MATLAB connectivity.

Using a software-defined radio together with MATLAB and Simulink® for wireless design, simulation, and analysis enables engineers and students to:

Figure 2. Deploy, prototype, and verify custom designs on SDR hardware using HDL and C code generation from algorithm models.

MATLAB and Simulink Hardware Support for SDR

With MATLAB and Simulink support for popular SDR hardware, you can communicate with SDR platforms to perform radio-in-the-loop testing, prototyping, and hands-on learning. The table below shows the supported SDR hardware and solutions offered by MathWorks to design and prototype software-defined radio systems.

See also: RF system, LTE tutorial, Communications Toolbox, massive MIMO, Bluetooth, beamforming, Wireless Testbench, 5G, DVB-S2, wireless transceiver