Airblue : a highly-configurable FPGA-based platform for wireless network research
Author(s)Ng, Man Cheuk, 1980-
Highly-configurable FPGA-based platform for wireless network research
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
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Over the past few years, researchers have developed many cross-layer wireless protocols to improve the performance of wireless networks. Experimental evaluations of these protocols require both high-speed simulations and real-time on-air experimentations. Unfortunately, radios implemented in pure software are usually inadequate for either because they are typically two to three orders of magnitude slower than commodity hardware. FPGA-based platforms provide much better speeds but are quite difficult to modify because of the way high-speed designs are typically implemented by trading modularity for performance. Experimenting with cross-layer protocols requires a flexible way to convey information beyond the data itself from lower to higher layers, and a way for higher layers to configure lower layers dynamically and within some latency bounds. One also needs to be able to modify a layer's processing pipeline without triggering a cascade of changes. In this thesis, we discuss an alternative approach to implement a high-performance yet configurable radio design on an FPGA platform that satisfies these requirements. We propose that all modules in the design must possess two important design properties, namely latency-insensitivity and datadriven control, which facilitate modular refinements. We have developed Airblue, an FPGA-based radio, that has all these properties and runs at speeds comparable to commodity hardware. Our baseline design is 802.11g compliant and is able to achieve reliable communication for bit rates up to 24 Mbps. We show in the thesis that we can implement SoftRate, a cross-layer rate adaptation protocol, by modifying only 5.6% of the source code (967 lines). We also show that our modular design approach allows us to abstract the details of the FPGA platform from the main design, thus making the design portable across multiple FPGA platforms. By taking advantage of this virtualization capability, we were able to turn Airblue into a high-speed hardware software co-simulator with simulation speed beyond 20 Mbps.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, 2011.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 155-164).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.