RENEW evolved from previous wireless research testbed projects developed at Rice University, including WARP, Argos, and Faros. Ultimately, RENEW represents the massive MIMO component that is part of the PAWR POWDER-RENEW deployment at the University of Utah campus. The following is a description of the different efforts leading to RENEW.
The Wireless Open-Access Research Platform (WARP) is a scalable and extensible programmable wireless platform, built from the ground up to prototype advanced wireless networks. WARP combines high-performance programmable hardware with an open-source repository of reference designs and support materials. Learn more about the WARP project.
To practically implement MUBF theory and realize its capacity benefit, one must address a set of challenges. The Argos project started in 2011, developed new techniques that enabled hundreds of antennas to be deployed on base stations, resulting in enormous network capacity gains. It used the WARP platform to build the first real-world prototype of a many-antenna MUBF base station and experimentally evaluate its performance. Argos demonstrated the feasibility of many antenna base stations and motivated industry adoption of this promising technology in the near future.
ArgosV3 is a clean-slate design of Argos massive-MIMO base station, providing 1) extreme scalability, 2) maximum reconfigurability, and 3) at-scale deployability. To provide all these features, ArgosV3 leverages the commercial-off-the-shelf Iris SDR modules, designed and manufactured by Skylark Wireless, a Rice spin-off startup company. Iris SDR radios are capable of forming daisy chains in a cable-less fashion, with up to 10 Iris modules operating seamlessly as if they are a single many-antenna device. Iris SDR modules use interchangeable high-power front-end modules for UHF, BRS, and CBRS bands with a maximum output power of 28 dBm, enabling long-range at-scale communication. Multiple daisy chains of Iris modules are interconnected to a central Hub, which provides data aggregation, time and frequency synchronization, and power to Iris daisy chains. ArgosV3 provides a 40Gbps backhaul fiber connection. All these elements are integrated into a weather-proof enclosure, providing an easy-to-deploy plug-and-play solution. The ArgosV3 design was further developed and currently commercialized as Faros by Skylark Wireless.
ArgosNet consists of three 96-antenna and a single 64-antenna ArgosV3 base station deployed at the Rice University campus. There are five carefully planned designated sites allowing movement of these four base stations for various experiments. Each base station support 40Gbps single-mode fiber backhaul (4x 10 Gbps) to ArgosNet datacenter resources. The datacenter resources currently consist of 6x 36-core super microservers and an FPGA board which is used for centralized data aggregation as well as multi-cell time and frequency synchronization. These resources are growing over time, with the goal of performing much of the baseband processing in the data center rather than at the base stations.
You can find more information about the Argos project here.
RENEW strives to build a reconfigurable and open-source software stack for massive-MIMO wireless, primarily on Skylark Wireless Faros® base stations. This wiki documents all the aspects of the software developed by the RENEW team, from high-level architecture to code details, and serves as a tutorial to conduct massive-MIMO experiments on open platforms such as POWDER. This resource will be edited and augmented as more code is released. All of our code is available at the Agora repo and the RENEWLab repo.