5G technology will be a driving force behind much-anticipated applications such as ubiquitous broadband, autonomous vehicles, and smart factory automation. But making those applications a reality makes testing 5G a critical step. To ensure 5G devices and networks work well, three architectural requirements must be in place.
5G test systems are significantly more complex and capable than 4G systems. 5G system requirements may need a test system to test not only RF performance but also intermediate frequency (IF) and baseband signals. For mmWave components and devices that integrate phased array antennas, beam control may need to be integrated into the system as well.
When you consider that the 5G standard is evolving, and will continue to for several years, the importance of having a modular test architecture is clear.
To adapt to the changing 5G landscape, engineers can incrementally add modular hardware components while facilitating software reuse. This helps save time and money and accelerate innovation.
Frequency and Bandwidth
5G expands operation to new frequencies, higher bandwidths, and more capable stream configurations (component carriers and MIMO). It also exploits active antenna systems (AAS) and beamforming technology for highly directional beams and improved link-budget. Test systems must adapt to meet the challenges of testing and measuring the performance of these new configurations.
To accomplish this, test systems need tightly synchronized, flexible, multisensor configurations in carefully calculated spatial arrangements, relying on a system architecture that can handle the parallel processing of multiple simultaneous, high-bandwidth signals. FPGAs are a core technology that can address these processing requirements and achieve lower test times.
Software-Defined Signal Processing
5G promises significantly higher data throughput than today’s cellular systems, and this increased data throughput calls for new test architectures. To achieve the fastest test times, FPGAs allow for accelerated measurements using real-time FPGA processors. In addition, because of the flexible nature of the 5G standard, the test system must generate and acquire a magnitude more in terms of waveforms and begin to cycle through different waveforms .
5G poses new and much greater test and measurement challenges.
The preponderance of use cases necessitates system-level testing.
Some architectural requirements needed to successfully test 5G include the flexibility of a modular system, the scalability to address frequency and bandwidth needs, and the high performance of software-defined signal processing.