Development and testing of the RHINO host streamed data acquisition framework

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This project focuses on developing a supporting framework for integrating the Reconfigurable Hardware INterface for computing and radiO (RHINO) with a Personal Computer (PC) host in order to facilitate the development of Software Defined Radio (SDR) applications built using a hybrid RHINO/multicore PC system. The supporting framework that is the focus of this dissertation is designed around two main parts: a) resources for integrating the GNU Radio framework with the RHINO platform to allow data streams to be sent from RHINO to be processed by GNU Radio, and b) a concise and highly efficient C code module with accompanying Application Program Interface (API) that will receive streamed data from RHINO and provide data marshalling facilities to gather and dispatch blocks of data for further processing using C/C++ routines. The methodology followed in this research project involves investigating real-time streaming techniques using User Datagram Protocol (UDP) packets, furthermore, investigating how GNU Radio high-level SDR development framework can be integrated into the real-time data acquisition systems such as in the case of this project with RHINO. The literature for real-time processing requirements for the streamer framework was reviewed. The guidelines to implement a high performance, low latency and maximum throughput for streaming will consequently be presented and the proposed design motivated. The results achieved demonstrate an efficient data streaming system. The objectives of implementing RHINO data acquisition system through integration with standard C/C++ code and GNU Radio were satisfactorily met. The system was tested with real-time Radio Frequency (RF) demodulation. The system captures a pair of an In-phase/Quadrature signal (I/Q) sample at a time, which is one packet. The results show that data can be streamed from the RHINO board to GNU Radio over GbE with a minimum capturing latency of 10.2μs for 2 0 packet size and an average data capturing throughput of 0.54 Mega Bytes per second (MBps). The capturing latency, in this case, is the time taken from the time of the request to receiving the data. The FM receiver case study successfully demonstrated results of a demodulated FM signal of a 94.5 Mega Hetz (MHz) radio station. Further recommendations include making use of the 10GbE port on RHINO for data streaming purposes. 10GbE port on RHINO can be used together with GNU Radio to improve the speed of the RHINO streamer.