Control and visualisation of a software defined radio system on the Xilinx RFSoC platform using the PYNQ framework

Goldsmith, Joshua and Ramsay, Craig and Northcote, David and Barlee, Kenneth W. and Crockett, Louise H. and Stewart, Robert W. (2020) Control and visualisation of a software defined radio system on the Xilinx RFSoC platform using the PYNQ framework. IEEE Access, 8. pp. 129012-129031. ISSN 2169-3536

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    Abstract

    The availability of commercial Radio Frequency System on Chip (RFSoC) devices brings new possibilities for implementing Software Defined Radio (SDR) systems. Such systems are of increasing interest given the pace of innovation in wireless technology, and the pressure on RF spectrum resources, leading to a growing need to access the spectrum in more dynamic and innovative ways. In this paper, we present an SDR demonstration system based on the Xilinx RFSoC platform, which leverages the Python- based 'PYNQ' (Python Productivity for Zynq) software framework. In doing so, we highlight features that can be extremely useful for prototyping radio system design. Notably, our developed system features Python-based control of hardware processing blocks and Radio Frequency (RF) data converters, as well as direct visualisation of communications signals captured within the chip. The system architecture is reviewed, hardware and software components are discussed, functionality is demonstrated, and aspects of the system's performance are evaluated. Finally, it is noted that this combined RFSoC + PYNQ approach is readily extensible for other SDR systems; we highlight our online shared resources, and invite other engineers to investigate and build upon our work.