RF Engines Ltd. (RFEL), the specialists in high performance signal processing design, has won a UK Government research grant from the South East Development Agency (SEEDA), whereby it is to undertake research into a novel and flexible receiver architecture that is reconfigurable 'on-the-fly'.

The architecture will be used to create a portable digital receiver that will be capable of scanning the spectrum from zero to 5.84 GHz. Typically such devices only extend to 3 GHz, but with the expanding use of higher frequencies for WiFi etc., an increased frequency range is required. The application areas for the fully flexible wideband receiver range from commercial wireless communications such as wireless base stations, through to test and measurement applications.

The company also anticipates that there may be future use for the architecture in handheld media devices that are using an increasingly wide range of RF frequencies for WiMAX, GPS, 3G, Bluetooth, Wireless LAN, Mobile TV, etc., and thus a reconfigurable receiver provides a more cost-effective and smaller solution than a number of dedicated receiver circuits.

RFEL's design approach is focussed on the combination of flexible analogue and digital elements in such a way as to allow re-configurability of the complete system for different applications as required, via software/firmware. The resulting Software Defined Radio (SDR) increases the amount of digital signal processing to move the analogue/digital boundary closer to the antenna, thus reducing the complexity and limitations of the RF front end. It should also deliver a solution that has lower power consumption, smaller size, wideband performance and enhanced system performance.

Commenting on the award, Jeff Alexander, SEEDA executive director for global competitiveness, said, "RF Engines has shown a remarkable ability to commercialise its innovative designs. We are confident that RFEL will follow through to similar commercial success with its latest project. This will create and support regionally-based high value jobs in the process."