Massive MIMO is one of the key technologies in 5G wireless broadband, capable of delivering substantial improvements in capacity of next-generation wireless networks. However, due to its inherent complexity, its operation, reconfiguration, and enhancement present significant challenges and risks. We have designed a Reconfigurable Ecosystem for Next-generation End-to-end Wireless (RENEW), a large-scale massive MIMO scientific instrument and eco-system that will enable research at the forefront of the wireless revolution for years to come. RENEW features full programmability at every layer of the wireless stack; from the radio hardware, including PHY and MAC layer configurations, all the way up to the network core functionality using network function virtualization. RENEW also provides mechanisms to enable observability at every layer of the stack. These include various indicators in the radio and core access network, hence enabling effective monitoring, troubleshooting, and performance evaluation of the network at large.
RENEW leverages Faros Massive-MIMO base station (from the company Skylark Wireless), an evolution of Rice Argos platform, to provide a fully open-source massive MIMO framework. Each many-antenna Faros base station employs multiple custom programmable Software Defined Radio (SDR) modules called Iris as their building blocks. Similarly, clients are based on Iris modules.
RENEW is being deployed as part of the POWDER project on the campus of the University of Utah. The network will largely consist of outdoor, high-powered transmitters as well as client nodes with high mobility and a mix of indoor and outdoor fixed nodes deployed across the university campus.