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Communications Networking Wireless Networking

Full-Duplex Radio Integrated Circuit Could Double Radio Frequency Data Capacity 47

Zothecula writes Full-duplex radio communication usually involves transmitters and receivers operating at different frequencies. Simultaneous transmission and reception on the same frequency is the Holy Grail for researchers, but has proved difficult to achieve. Those that have been built have proven complex and bulky, but to be commercially useful in the ever-shrinking world of communications technology, miniaturization is key. To this end, engineers at Columbia University (CU) claim to have created a world-first, full-duplex radio transceiver, all on one miniature integrated circuit.
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Full-Duplex Radio Integrated Circuit Could Double Radio Frequency Data Capacity

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  • Why? Is the spectrum that crowded that we need this? Making this work in the real-world will not be a piece of cake...
    • Re:One question: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @02:40PM (#49285689) Journal

      Is the spectrum that crowded that we need this?

      The parts of the spectrum that have bandwidth enough for most of today's applications AND good signal propagation characteristics certainly are.

    • by suutar ( 1860506 )

      *looks at the number of wifi SSIDs visible from my apartment* yes.

    • Re:One question: (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @05:28PM (#49287237)
      The real question is "Is using different frequencies for forward and reverse path such a problem?" to which the answer is, "No. In many ways it is an advantage".

      This may be a solution, but it is not clear there is actually a problem it solves.

      Does this enable more total data to be transmitted where there are multiple users in a band? When they are using spread spectrum and reception conditions are poor, and one or both ends are moving through buildings or spaces occupied by reflective surfaces?

      I am sure someone will buy the patent, but much less sure it will turn out to be value for money.

  • by daq man ( 170241 )

    "all on one miniature integrated circuit."

    That would be as opposed to all of the really big integrated circuits.

  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @03:03PM (#49285905)

    The article is misleading. Transmission and reception on the same "frequency" is done today. However, there's some other "discriminator" in the signal. Either modulation method, phase, shift, orientation, or "something" is different so that the receive and transmit don't collide.

    This article -- despite its misleading introduction -- talks about a limited application whereby RX and TX can occur using the same frequency *BAND* (they say "spread spectrum") and allow full-duplex communication. The advance is that this is all on one chip.

    What would be truly revolutionary, like the example of two people talking to each other at the same time, is the ability to transmit and receive using the *same* exact method by both transceivers. THAT would be the holy grail.

    Not there yet.


    • the conditions of test in the abstract listed were not mentioned. this is routine in cross-polarization (transmit vertical, receive horizontal) or in time-division (squintillions of telco, digital TV applications) multiplexing. but if this was going to happen on one little dinky antenna in the side of a smartphone at the same time on the same chip, the echo cancellation algorithm on chip would be the size of a SUV. and echo cancellation is sort of TDM all in itself.

      I'll believe it when the flying pig han

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Different polarization is already used; LTE 2x2 operation (most common) has two transmits at +/- 90 already, both spanning the same frequency range.
        8x8 also exists. So this would not fly if it meant losing well established polarization uses.

    • by chuckinator ( 2409512 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @04:58PM (#49286971)
      The issue is that a strong transmission in the same band as a receiver can desense the receiver. This can also be done with a cavity duplexer if you need input and output in the same band on adjacent frequencies, but you pay for it with geometric space (since cavity duplexer dimensions are a fraction of the wavelength in free space multiplied by the materials velocity factor). This can be problematic on HF and VHF bands, but UHF and microwave can get away with duplexers the size of a brick. Unfortunately, that's still too much for mobile phones since it's too big to fit in someone's pocket.
    • The article is misleading. Transmission and reception on the same "frequency" is done today. However, there's some other "discriminator" in the signal. Either modulation method, phase, shift, orientation, or "something" is different so that the receive and transmit don't collide.

      Actually, bidirectional, simultaneous transmissions using exactly the same polarisation, modulation etc have been possible for a long time, using circulators/hybrids and echo cancelers. I imagine they had limited succes because typically the power difference between transmitted and received signal is too high for the echo canceler to deal with, but in theory, this "holy grail" is certainly possible.

      Apart from that, as you mention correctly, the novelty here is the size.

  • by laing ( 303349 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @04:06PM (#49286527)
    The (copper) Gigabit Ethernet PHY transmits and receives simultaneously on four wire pairs. It accomplishes this with a hybrid that subtracts the transmitted signal from the one being received. Last year some newer WiFi access points [] debuted that could do the same thing with RF. (Gigabit Ethernet is technically RF too because each of the four wire pairs operate at around 125MHz. WiFi access points operate in the 2.4GHz and 5.4GHz bands.)
  • In the era of Big Data, the current frequency spectrum crisis is one of the biggest challenges researchers are grappling with...

    Articles that throw buzzwords around are annoying, but irrelevant buzzwords are even worse!

  • Clarifications (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @06:58PM (#49287879)
    Hi all, I was perusing through all the comments, and as one of the authors of the work, I thought I would clarify some of the points that were raised to aid the discussion: 1. The chip targets same-channel full duplex, meaning the transmitter and the receiver work in the same frequency channel at the same time, and are not separated by polarization, modulation format etc. Therefore, since transmitted signals are around +20dBm and receiver sensitivity levels are around -90dBm, nearly 110dB of suppression through isolation (across a pair of antennas or a circulator) and echo (aka self-interference or SI) cancellation must be achieved (as one of the people above has correctly pointed out). Such a high degree of SI cancellation requires that SI cancellers be implemented in all domains (RF, analog and digital, each yielding a part of the total SI suppression). 2. As one of the people above has pointed out, even if the signals were separated in modulation format for instance, the transmitter SI would be so powerful that it would saturate the receiver front end before modulation-format-based separation can be achieved in the digital domain. So echo cancellation at the receiver front end is required. 3. As someone points out, circulators and echo cancellers have existed for quite a while and have been implemented in many ways. The innovation here is that we perform echo or SI cancellation at RF in a single chip, which has not been done before. 4. Moreover, the SI cancellation approach can tackle echos that experience significant delay (as high as 20ns) while still fitting with an IC form factor through the use of on-chip reconfigurable high-Q filters, enabling cancellation of wideband signals (>20MHz enabling use for WiFi). 5. Finally, indeed the varying environment is a challenge and the RF and digital SI cancellers need to be reconfigured periodically (milli-seconds). Hope this helps.
    • Re:Clarifications (Score:5, Informative)

      by CoSMIClab ( 4044833 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @08:11PM (#49288295)
      Some more clarifications: 6. The chip has been fully tested, and is able to provide the required SI cancellation so that the desired signal can be received without distortion in the presence of the powerful transmitter echo. What remains to be tested are rate gains when several of these chips are networked. This is not that straightforward because today's networks are designed for half-duplex nodes, not full-duplex. So new scheduling concepts etc. need to be developed, which is a topic of research. 7. Echo cancellation is certainly not old technology. While echo cancellation techniques exist, they use techniques that cannot be integrated into an IC (e.g. cm-long transmission lines to replicate 10s of nanoseconds of delay spread, photonic techniques etc.). The innovation here is a technique that can replicate the delay spreads of the echo at RF frequencies on an IC.
    • On the basis of trusting that the AC truly is one of the authors (of the scholarly paper), I want to thank you for these clarifications and suggest to all to mod that post up. It definitely is better than score: 1, which is its current value at the time of my writing.

      110 dB of SI cancellation is beyond impressive - it is approaching magical!

      On the face of it, this capability will double capacity of any RF channel for which it will work. AC claims this can be made to work on channel bandwidths exceeding 2

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CoSMIClab ( 4044833 )

        flatulus: Thanks for the comments. They are spot on.

        - It is true that there are benefits beyond full duplex, namely in reducing duplexer filter requirements for FDD. We have received commercial interest for this application as well. LTE provides support for 24 FDD bands, a lot more than 3G. Having 24 fixed-frequency duplexers in a handset is near impossible. So, there is interest in tunable duplexers that can cover multiple bands but inevitably have reduced isolation and greater insertion loss than conventi

  • I hate to burst CU'S bubble but this has been done numerous times over a decade ago by researchers at UC Berkeley and other institutions. Search on Google scholar for SiGe.

A list is only as strong as its weakest link. -- Don Knuth