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Making connections

We look at two of the worthy winners in the recent US-Ireland Research Innovation Awards

Xilinx Ireland took the honours at the US-Ireland Research Innovation Awards for its software-defined microchip technology to address the emerging cost, power, size and flexibility requirements in emerging 5G cellular networks.

"What we have done is integrated a bunch of electronics that integrates the radio function for 5G base stations," says Brendan Farley, vice-president of engineering with Xilinx.

“It allows large, custom, expensive base-station architectures to be replaced by a compact, wideband, low-power, cost-effective, single-chip solution. The microchip architecture is software programmable to adapt to a range of emerging 5G standards and deployment configurations.”

The new chip was in development for three years. "It takes quite a long time," says Farley. "There was a team of 50 people in Ireland involved. We started off developing the core technologies, then testing them, then we developed something that looked more like a product. That product was manufactured in Taiwan and we took it back here to test it again. This kind of device has never been developed in Ireland before. There is probably only a couple of places in the world where it can be done. We recruit locally and internationally for the team. You need the best people in the world to do this work. The people from Ireland and overseas rub off each other and learn from each other."


The SFI's Connect Centre for Future Networks, represented by Dr Andrew Hines, won the award in the category of Research Centre with links to the US corporate sector in Ireland. A collaboration with Google known as ViSQOL, the winning project is a software platform for evaluating audio quality on the web by "looking" at sounds. It can predict sound quality in a wide range of internet scenarios, from streaming music and video-conferencing to virtual-reality 3D spatial audio.

Speaking at the awards presentation in May, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys said: "I know that innovation is something that the American Chamber cares passionately about. This is a passion that I share because research and innovation is fundamental to growing the Irish economy and the wider Irish-American business relationship."

Barry McCall

Barry McCall is a contributor to The Irish Times