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Software-Defined Network (SDN) is a promising architecture for next generation Internet. SDN can achieve Network Function Virtualization much more efficiently than conventional architectures by splitting the data and control planes. Though SDN emerged first in wired network, its wireless counterpart Software-Defined Wireless Network (SDWN) also attracted an increasing amount of interest in the recent years. Wireless networks have some distinct characteristics compared to the wired networks due to the wireless channel dynamics. Therefore, network controllers present some extra degrees of freedom, such as taking measurements against interference and noise, or adapting channels according to the radio spectrum occupation. These specific characteristics bring about more challenges to wireless SDNs. Currently, SDWN implementations are mainly using customized firmware, such as OpenWRT, running on an embedded application processor in commercial WiFi chips, and restricted to layers above lower Media Access Control. This limitation comes from the fact that radio hardware usually require specific drivers, which have a proprietary implementation by various chipset vendors. Hence, it is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve virtualization on the radio hardware. However, this status has been changing as Software-Defined Radio (SDR) systems open up the entire radio communication stack to radio hobbyists and researchers. The bridge between SDR and SDN will make it possible to bring the softwarization and virtualization of wireless networks down to the physical layer, which will unlock the full potential of SDWN. This paper investigates the necessity and feasibility of extending the virtualization of wireless networks towards the radio hardware. A SDR architecture is presented for radio hardware virtualization in order to facilitate SDWN design and experimentation. We do believe that by adopting the virtualization-oriented hardware accelerator design presented here, an all-layer end-to-end high performance SDWN can be achieved.
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- Radio Hardware Virtualization for Software-Defined Wireless Networks
Felipe A. P. de Figueiredo
- Springer US
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