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Instant recollection

With no standard specification for memory within a 3G basestation, what is being used and where? By Vanessa Knivett.

A typical 3G basestation makes use of several different memories. As with most applications, the memory used is dependent on the implementation as well as the performance targets of the system.

Accordingly, the decision rests primarily on the architecture employed – typically, this comprises four modules: a radio frequency module, a baseband module, a transport module; and a control module. With wide area networking driving many memory developments, it's not surprising that designers are also looking at the typical basestation architecture in networking terms. Bearing this in mind, the plethora of memory cards used is mostly concentrated in the central processing unit, the data plane and the control plane. Memories are used to support each of the processors and for passing information between each.

Viewed as a general purpose memory, high speed synchronous sram, ram and flash is used to support the control processor on the control and network interface portion of the system as a cache. This is used simply to get the processing unit to function.

Connected to the processor unit are two planes; the data and control planes. According to memory specialist Denato Montenari of Cypress Semiconductor: "The information on the data plane is rather serial in nature. This translates into a memory that doesn't have to be random, so dram is the generally accepted solution. The cost of this has come down a long way in the last few years and it is fairly fast so, provided random access isn't required, dram is a fast, cost efficient option."

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Graham Pitcher

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