OpenMAC: A new reconfigurable experimental platform for energy-efficient medium access control protocols


OpenMAC is presented in this study as an innovative reconfigurable platform which overcomes the limitations of stateof- the-art experimental tools to test medium access control (MAC) protocols. The purpose of the OpenMAC platform is to simplify the prototyping process by enabling the implementation of MAC protocols designed in C++, relieving the protocol designer from the hardware and timing aspects, and thus avoiding the need to code optimised C/assembly or hardware description language (HDL). Aiming to reduce the hardware design and implementation costs with respect to custom hardware solutions, the OpenMAC platform has been implemented on an inexpensive off-the-shelf reconfigurable field programmable gate array (FPGA)-based development board with a processor embedded in the FPGA. The challenge presented by the proposed platform is to fulfil strict MAC time-constraints with compiled straightforward and clean C++ code. For this purpose, the OpenMAC platform introduces an innovative hardware/software partitioning concept for MAC protocol implementation which is based on a shared-memory architecture. Measurements carried out on an FPGA board demonstrate that this platform meets the short inter-frame space (SIFS) specification of the IEEE 802.11 standard, hence enabling field testing of prototyped MAC protocols.

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