Technology innovation firm Cambridge Consultants has successfully completed initial trials of the world’s first fully digital radio transmitter – a turning point in wireless design and a real enabler for the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and 5G technology. It’s a radio built purely from computing power.
The Pizzicato digital radio transmitter consists of an integrated circuit outputting a single stream of bits, and an antenna – with no conventional radio parts or digital-to-analogue converter. Patented algorithms perform the necessary ultra-fast computations in real time, making it possible for standard digital technology to generate high-frequency radio signals directly.
“Our first trial of the technology has created 14 simultaneous cellular base station signals,” said Monty Barlow, director of wireless technology at Cambridge Consultants. “But it is the potential which is so exciting. Like mainstream microprocessing, a Pizzicato-based radio would directly benefit from Moore’s Law – shrinking in cost, size and power consumption with each new generation of silicon fabrication.
“If we’re going to get high-speed broadband to every mobile phone in the world, we’ll need lots of tiny, high-performance radios in those phones. The radios will be squashed together in a way that analogue just doesn’t tolerate. Whereas a Pizzicato-like digital radio can follow Moore’s Law to smaller size and lower power consumption.
“It could also be programmed to generate almost any combination of signals at any carrier frequencies, nimbly adapting its behaviour in a way that is impossible in conventional radios. It is early days for this technology but we believe radio design has reached a turning point.”
- software radios are a big deal in the same way moving from analogue computers to digital computers was a huge step
- control over transmissions becomes a a real issue as the software becomes controllable by users/owners and not certified by the government at the manufacturing stage