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National Instruments (NI) is aiming to enable true massive MIMO prototyping for 5G technology with the addition of support for multiple antenna user equipment on its LabVIEW platform.

The LabVIEW Communications MIMO Application Framework reportedly offers a multi-FGPA physical layer reference design alongside reconfigurable source code to enable the creation of a network of multiple antenna devices. The company said the MIMO Framework can be paired with its software-defined radio hardware to carry out real-time, over-the-air tests of MIMO technologies, including multi-user and massive MIMO.

Rather than just testing base station performance, the upgrades also mean researchers can test beamforming at the user equipment (UE) level as well.

“Massive MIMO has emerged as one of the leading 5G technologies that has the potential to provide unprecedented levels of spectral efficiency that will be critical in supporting the vast number of wireless devices expected to come online in the coming years,” Fredrik Tufvesson, IEEE fellow and professor of radio systems at Lund University, observed. “NI’s MIMO Application Framework provides the hardware and software capabilities needed so that beamforming techniques can be explored at not just the massive MIMO base station, but also at the multi-antenna UEs to further enhance the overall system performance of 5G networks.” 

The MIMO Application Framework supports a maximum network throughput of more than 1.5 Gbps and a Time Division Duplex-based architecture. It also features a fully bidirectional communications link that can be used for massive MIMO experiments, NI reported.

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