Title page for ETD etd-02292012-095115

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Bieberly, Frank
URN etd-02292012-095115
Title Heterogeneous Processing in Software Defined Radio: Flexible Implementation and Optimal Resource Mapping
Degree Master of Science
Department Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
MacKenzie, Allen B. Committee Chair
Athanas, Peter M. Committee Member
Dietrich, Carl B. Committee Member
  • oftware Defined Radio
  • Heterogeneous Processing
  • Resource Mapping
Date of Defense 2012-02-08
Availability unrestricted
The advantages provided by Software Defined Radios (SDRs) have made them useful

tools for communication engineers and academics alike. The ability to support a wide

range of communication waveforms with varying modulation, encoding, or frequencies

on a single hardware platform can decrease production costs while accelerating wave-

form development. SDR applications are expanding in military and commercial environ-

ments as advances in transistor technology allow greater computational density with de-

creased power-consumption, size, and weight. As the demand for greater performance

continues to increase, some SDR manufacturers are experimenting with heterogeneous

processing platforms to meet these requirements.

Heterogeneous processing, a method of dividing computational tasks among dissimi-

lar processors, is well-suited to the data flow programming paradigm used in many com-

mon SDR software frameworks. Particularly on embedded platforms, heterogeneous pro-

cessing can offer significant gains in computational power while maintaining low power-

consumption, opening the door for affordable and useful mobile SDR platforms.

Many past SDR hardware implementations utilize a partially heterogeneous process-

ing approach. A field programmable gate array (FPGA) is often used to perform high-

speed processing (DDC, decimation) near the radio front-end while another processor

(GPP, DSP or FPGA) performs the rest of the SDR application signal processing (gain

control, filtering, demodulation). A few recent SDR hardware platforms are designed to

allow the use of multiple processor types throughout the SDR application’s processing

chain. This can result in significant benefit to SDR software that can take advantage of the greater heterogeneous processing now available.

This thesis will present a new method of heterogeneous processing in the framework

of GNU Radio. In this implementation a software wrapper allows a DSP to participate

seamlessly in GNU Radio applications. The DSP can be directly substituted for exist-

ing GNU Radio signal processing blocks–significantly expanding the platform’s capa-

bilities while maintaining the benefits of the component-based design methodology. A

similar approach could be applied to additional processing elements (e.g. FPGAs and

co-processors) and to other SDR software frameworks.

As the capabilities of this heterogeneous framework increase users will be required

to assign hardware resources to signal processing tasks to maximize performance. To

remove this burden, a method of predicting GNU Radio application performance and

a heuristic resource mapping algorithm, which seems to perform well in practice, are


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