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®.
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
- Learn about wireless transceiver hardware implementation with SDR.
- Set up SDR hardware with preconfigured radio functions.
- Transmit and receive standards-based and custom-generated signals.
- Test designs in the presence of interference and other real-world conditions.
- Perform real-time signal analysis and measurement.
- Deploy, prototype, and verify custom designs on SDR hardware using HDL and C code generation from algorithm models as shown in Figure 2.
- Verify implementation with radio-in-the-loop tests.
- Transmit and capture signals at sample rates up to 250 Msps to test wideband wireless systems and perform spectrum monitoring.
- Capture wideband signals and use them to train deep learning models for wireless applications.
- Prototype, verify, and test practical wireless systems.
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.