RENEW stands for Reconfigurable Ecosystem for Next-generation End-to-end Wireless. It is an open-source massive MIMO platform to facilitate research at the forefront of the wireless revolution and to encourage academic and industrial collaboration in the next-generation wireless network.
The capacity of traditional single-user wireless systems is exclusively limited by the available spectrum and transmission power. Recent developments in information theory, however, have shown that such capacity limitations can be overcome by improving the spatial reuse efficiency through multi-user multiple-input multiple-output (MU-MIMO) technology, or its special form called multi-user beamforming (MUBF). With MUBF, a base station employs multiple antennas to simultaneously send independent data streams to multiple users, tremendously increasing the aggregated network capacity. As MUBF theory dictates, the more antennas a base station has, the more users it can serve simultaneously. Encouragingly, this means that with enough base station antennas, the network capacity can scalably grow to accommodate more users. This naturally motivates us to put as many antennas as possible on the base station to meet the increasing capacity demand from more and more users.
RENEW is part of the Platform for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program, which was created with the goal of enabling experimental exploration of new wireless technologies and services to revolutionize the nation’s wireless ecosystem while sustaining US leadership and economic competitiveness for decades to come. The PAWR program will result in the deployment of 4 city-scale testing platforms for advanced wireless research in a public-private effort funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a wireless Industry Consortium of 30 companies and associations. The PAWR project comprises four key sectors:
The RENEW project has been under development at Rice University since 2018, in collaboration with the University of Michigan and Texas Southern University.
The RENEW engineering team partnered with the University of Utah to design, build, and operate the city-scale wireless testbed POWDER-RENEW, in Salt Lake City, for accelerating wireless technology innovations. The POWDER-RENEW platform has been available for public use since 2019. On this platform, the RENEW engineering team continues innovative research while supporting other researchers at the same time.
Currently, the RENEW project provides researchers with access to a fully programmable and fully observable L1 and L2 open-source massive MIMO platform, including the radio hardware, software baseband, and MAC. The platform consists of Software Defined Radio (SDR) based massive MIMO hardware developed by Skylark Wireless and different software frameworks that allow researchers to design, implement, and evaluate algorithms and protocols at different levels of the wireless stack. The RENEW dev team is currently focused on two main frameworks:
Agora is a complete high-performance system for real-time massive-MIMO baseband processing that implements a queue-based master-worker model. A master thread is responsible for scheduling tasks and a pool of worker threads is responsible for executing tasks. The communication between the master thread worker threads is achieved through single-producer multi-consumer or multi-producer single-consumer shared memory FIFO queues.
+ Agora currently supports 64x16 Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO). In other words, the system supports 64 Remote Radio Unit (RRU) antennas and 16 concurrent User Equipment (UE) devices with 20 MHz bandwidth and 64QAM modulation, on a 36-core server with AVX512 support.
+ Agora is configurable in terms of numbers of RRU antennas and UEs, bandwidth, modulation orders, LDPC code rates.
+ Agora supports an emulated RRU and UEs with a high-performance packet generator.
+ Agora has been tested with real RRUs with up to 64 antennas and up to 8 UEs. The RRU and UE devices are available from Skylark Wireless.
- Agora is a complex system and as such, it has a much steeper learning curve than RENEWLab and requires more advanced programming skills.
Agora allows researchers to experiment with massive MIMO applications running in real-time and to further develop other baseband modules and evaluate their performance. The following are just a few examples of use cases enabled by Agora:
The best way to characterize RENEWLab is hardware-and-the-wireless channel-in-the-loop. You program what signals are transmitted by which antennas at what time, and which antennas will receive them. The signals can be constructed in Python or MATLAB, allowing you to use many existing libraries in these software frameworks.
+ Flexible construction of signals and transmission patterns
+ Ability to use existing software libraries without any change
+ Shortest learning curve
+ Ability to bring hardware and actual wireless channels in your data
+ Full software control
- Real-time processing often not possible, hence not suitable for Layer 2 or above research
RENEWLab is not only an important first step in many research projects but in fact, all you may need for many research ideas. Below we highlight some of the ways you can use RENEWLab for:
You can find all RENEWLab code here.