ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
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MPRG Releases Open-Source Software Radio Tool

The department’s Mobile and Portable Radio Research Group (MPRG) has released the world’s first open-source implementation of the defacto industry standard for software radio design. The open-source tool lowers the barriers to entering software radio research and should boost software radio education as well as research innovations, according to industry experts.


Called OSSIE (Open-Source SCA Implementation: Embedded), the MPRG tool is written in C++ and is currently available for the Windows 2000 and Linux platforms with MATLAB® installed. OSSIE is an implementation of the Software Communications Architecture (SCA) developed by the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS).


The SCA describes the framework that is used to establish, maintain, and tear down waveforms in a radio system. With much of the software radio research driven by Department of Defense needs, the SCA has become the working standard in the field. All software radio environments will have to support all SCA functionality, either explicity or implicitly, according to Max Robert, the MPRG post-doctoral Fellow who led development of the new tool.


“This means that an understanding of the SCA provides an engineer with the tools to understand most of the key principles associated with the operating environment for software-defined radios,” he said. “Our goal is to establish a framework for entry-level graduate students or researchers to quickly familiarize themselves with the specifications and to arrive at the point where they can perform meaningful research early on.”


The absence of a software framework that is free, easy to use, and written in a language common to most wireless developers has been a significant barrier to entry into the software-radio research arena, according to Robert. Smaller development groups and research centers can now easily move into the field and contribute to innovations, he explained.


“Offering OSSIE as an open-source tool over the Internet will speed up growth of the technology and make faster innovations possible,” he added. “This will benefit all wireless researchers who are working to develop software radios.”


Under the direction of faculty advisor Jeff Reed, Robert led a mostly-volunteer team of students to develop OSSIE, including Shereef Sayed, Carlos Aguayo, Rekha Menon, Karthik Channakeshava, Craig Neely, Christopher Vander Valk, Tom Tsou, and Philip Balister. Direct and indirect support was provided by the DCI Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, the Office of Naval Research, Tektronix, Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), Texas Instruments and the MPRG Affiliates Program. For MPRG, see www.mprg.org. For OSSIE information, see www.mprg.org/research/ossie/.