The LimeNET for carriers – what you need to know

Allows rapid, low cost expansion of 3, 4 and 5G networks, as well as for small-network mobile comms.
The LimeNET wide area network is also available in its three components - Core, amplifier and 4x4 MIMO SDR board

The LimeNET campaign brings together three incredibly powerful, flexible systems that we believe will democratise wireless innovation. In our first series of blog posts (LimeNET Mini here) following the launch of the LimeNET campaign we look at the LimeNET carrier-class wide area network – which allows rapid, low cost expansion of 3, 4 and 5G networks – as well as for systems small-network mobile comms, for example in hotel rooms and office facilities.

Further information is also available on the Crowd Supply page, which you visit here to back and share this important campaign.

Three carrier-grade components – or the complete package

The LimeNET Base Station is a limited-edition, highly discounted combination of the LimeNET Core and LimeNET Amplifier Chassis detailed below. This is everything you need to set up your own cellular network, all in one compact package and with a savings of over $7,000.

If you miss out on the LimeNET, the individual components, the Core, the Amplifier and the new 4×4 MIMO LimeSDR QPCIe board are available separately.

We’ll break these down individually in later posts, however the LimeNET Core is a top-of-the-line gaming PC outfitted with a newly developed LimeSDR QPCIe board, the LimeNET Core is a software defined radio powerhouse.

Designed to mate perfectly with LimeNET Core, the LimeNET Amplifier Chassis provides the necessary hardware to turn your SDR setup into a long range wireless network.

And finally the new LimeSDR board. Whereas the LimeNET Mini and LimeNET Enterprise are based on the original LimeSDR USB boards (micro Type-B and Type-A, respectively), the LimeNET Core, and therefore the LimeNET Base Station, are based on the entirely new LimeSDR QPCIe board. This new board is a much more sophisticated version of the original LimeSDR PCIe board. In particular, it has two LMS7002 transceiver chips instead of one, which allows for a 4×4 MIMO configuration instead of a 2×2 MIMO configuration.

A look inside LimeNET Core

  • Mainboard
    • Form factor: ASUS X99-M WS micro-ATX
    • Processor: Intel Core i7-6950X, 10 cores, 20 threads, 3 GHz (3.5 GHz boost), 25 MB smart cache
    • Memory: 64 GB (4 x 16 GB) DDR4 2133 MHz
    • Storage: 1 TB SATA 3 M.2 SSD
    • Video: GIGABYTE GV-N210SL-1GI graphics card with NVIDIA GeForce 210
    • Audio: 8-channel Crystal Sound 2 and 12,000-hour capacitors
    • Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.1, 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, 8 x SATA 6 Gb/s, 2 x Gigabit Ethernet, 3×3 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 1 x Bluetooth 4.0
  • Radio (Internal)
    • Board: LimeSDR QPCIe
    • Shielding: CNC-milled aluminum enclosure
    • Antennas: 4 x
    • Cables: 4 x U.FL (inside aluminum case)
    • Amplifier: Set of two (MIMO) 10 W RF output power amplifier + duplexer + antenna. And coming with a choice of 4 bands: 700 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.6 GHz, 3.5 GHz

How will this be set up?

The following image shows the current internal components of the LimeNET Core. The exact make and model of the RAM and SSD components may change based on availability at the time of manufacture.

LimeNET Core Components

1. Intel Core i7 – 6950X Processor Extreme Edition
2. Crucial CT16G4DFD8213 64GB (4x 16GB) DDR4 2133 MHz
3. Pre-amp bracket: MIMO 15 db LNA, MIMO TX SAW filter, MIMO 20 db PA
4. GIGABYTE GV-N210SL-1GI graphics card with NVIDIA GeForce 210
5. Crucial MX300 SATA 3 internal 1 TB SSD w/ M.2 interface
6. Corsair CX750MW Power Supply Unit
7. LimeSDR QPCIe board
8. ASUS X99-M WS micro-ATX mainboard

As well as an exceptionally powerful processor – the i7 10 core – and a very powerful graphics card, the heart of the core for wireless applications in the LimeSDE QPCIe board. A 4×4 MIMO board running two Lime LMS7002 chips.

LimeNET QPCIe Board Front
LimeNET QPCIe board (front side)

1. RF RX connectors 15. IC43 – EEPROM
2. J43, J42 – reference clock in and out 16. IC43 – FX3 flash boot jumper
3. LVDS interface 17. J28 – FPGA JTAG (0.1”)
4. IC40, J41 – GNSS receiver and antenna connector 18. SW2 – 4-bit switch
5. IC38 – FLASH memory 19. IC21, IC23 – FPGA configuration flash memory
6. J39, J38 – 2 x PMOD connectors 20. BATT1-RTC backup battery
7. LEDs 21. IC39 – temperature sensor
8. SW3 – power control switch 22. IC39 – temperature sensor
9. J44 – external 12 V power supply connector 23. RF RX connectors
10. J45 – 6-pin PCIe power connector 24. RF TX connectors
11. J31 – FX3 JTAG (0.05”) 25. RF PAs, switches, and connectors
12. IC34 – USB 3.0 controller (FX3) 26. IC1, IC4 – 2 x FPRF LMS7002M transceivers
13. J29 – USB 3.0 connector (micro Type-B) 27. RF TX connectors
14. IC35 – FX3 flash memory

LimeNET QPCIe Board Back Side
LimeNET QPCIe board (back side)

1. IC49 – clock synthesizer
2. IC46 – phase detector
3. XO1-3 VCTXO
4. IC2, IC3, IC5, IC6-RF transceivers EEPROMs
5. IC42, real time clock

The core sits inside the amplifier. While you can use the LimeSDR QPCIe board with other computers, LimeNET Core and, by extension, LimeNET Base Station are the only complete systems we’ve tested and pre-qualified as part of the LimeNET ecosystem. Of course, we encourage developers to integrate LimeSDRs of all flavors into new hardware configurations, but our ability to support and maintain hardware configurations is currently limited to those in the LimeNET family.

How much will it cost and when will it be delivered?

We will be making just 10 complete LimeNET systems available to backers – costing $17,500 USD (a discount of over $7,000). Once these are gone, or if you prefer to access the individual components and to engineer your own system around them / work with existing components, the campaign prices are as follows:

  • Core – $7,699 for those ordering in the campaign, rising to $8,099 for those ordering after the campaign finishes and the devices ship, and $8,499 thereafter.
  • Power amplifier- $13,199 during the campaign. $13,999 upon closing to the point of shipping. $14,999 thereafter.
  • LimeSDR QPCIe – $2,599

The devices will ship from:

  • LimeNET complete network in a box – February 2018
  • LimeNET Core – November 2017
  • LimeNET Amplifier – February 2018
  • LimeSDR QPCIe – November 2017

App stores and getting up and running

LimeNET is built on a robust, community-driven software stack, including GNU Octave, Ubuntu, Pothosware, Lime Suite, GNU Radio, Lua Radio, pyLMS7002M. We’ll be announcing more information on our app stores shortly, but they have had a face lift and, though our partnership with Ubuntu, become easier to access and get started with.