Mason-Milli: 60 GHz Millimeter-wave Wireless Networking and Sensing

The major goal of this project is to design a state-of-the-art, programmable and reconfigurable 60 GHz millimeter-wave wireless networking infrastructure at George Mason University to enable millimeter-wave wireless networking and sensing research. Even as 60 GHz millimeter-wave wireless networking is gaining increasing attention from industry and research community, it has remained difficult to evaluate techniques and protocols on real testbeds. Our objective is to develop a testbed infrastructure that can be used by researchers to solve important outstanding problems in the field. Our aim is to design the 60 GHz infrastructure using software radios and commercial off-the-shelf devices.

NI+SiBeam software radio platform: Mason-Milli consists of reconfigurable software radio nodes using National Instrument’s multi-FPGA platform integrated with SiBeam’s phased antenna array. The system is developed using a baseband transmitter module and a receiver module, providing multi-FPGA processing. This NI backend system is interfaced with a SiBeam V-band transceiver evaluation board as the RF front-end. The SiBeam platform provides 24 antenna elements (12 for transmitting and 12 for receiving) and capability to perform analog beamforming. The transceiver can provide 1.76 GHz of RF bandwidth at two carrier frequencies (60.48 and 62.64 GHz), and up to 16 QAM modulation for over 3 Gbps of data rate. Currently, no other commercially available 60 GHz software radio platform provides these capabilities. Mason-Milli currently includes a 2 software radio nodes and 2 more are part of our planned expansion.

Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) devices: In last few years, wireless routers and laptops equipped with 802.11ad chipset and phased antenna array have become commercially available. Although these devices use proprietary hardware, software and firmware, our project aims at exposing certain functionality of open-source drivers to enable better control and reconfigurability of these devices. Currently, Mason-Milli includes a 60 GHz WLAN setup of 22 802.11ad devices that are capable of performing link layer as well as end-to-end experimentation and measurement studies.

Mason-Milli has already enabled multiple research projects at GMU. They include performance measurement, characterization and analysis of 60 GHz WLANs that can provide multi-gigabit link data rates. Novel solutions for blockage and mobility related outages are being studied to make such WLANs more robust and reliable. Cross-layer protocols where PHY/MAC and transport/application layers interact and coordinate to improve the data rate and reliability are being developed. The infrastructure is also a key enabler of variety of sensing related projects which can lead to an integrated framework of 60 GHz networking and sensing.





The project is funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) CRI grant award (CNS-1730083).