Research and Development of Next-Generation GNSS Receivers

Status date

The objective of this activity was to perform research and development on next-generation GNSS receivers. More specifically, this meant that existing products were enhanced and new products were developed. The rationale behind this was to increase the market share of Septentrio in the market of professional GNSS receivers.

In 2003, Septentrio started the above mentioned ARTES-4 contract.

Phase 1 of the contract focused on three different main activities:

  1. Firmware improvements and new features for the PolaRx2 receiver.
  2. An intermediate PolaRx2e model was designed, manufactured and successfully tested.
  3. The requirements and the architecture of a new baseband chip GReCo3 were studied and a breadboard with an FPGA-based implementation was designed and tested.

After a few (successful) years, the PolaRx2 family of receivers were quickly becoming too large and especially too power-hungry for the rapidly evolving portable OEM volume applications, which cover a large part of Septentrio’s addressable market (land survey).

Therefore, Phase 2 of the contract had the following objectives:

  1. Conversion of the GReCo3 architecture into an ASIC, including prototyping.
  2. An L-band receiver was manufactured and tested.
  3. A single frequency receiver was developed and tested followed by an industrialization phase.

The next logical step was to reach volumes of thousands receivers sold per year and consequently solidify Septentrio’s role as leading European manufacturer of professional GNSS receivers.

Therefore, this Rider follow-up activity was proposed for the development and further industrialisation of the following receivers:

  1. Rovers,
    • Single frequency rover,
    • Dual frequency rover,
    • GNSS – L-band combined rover,
  2. Base Stations,
    • Dual frequency base station,
    • Multi-frequency base station,
  3. Multi-Antenna receiver.

The SF rover key issue was to upgrade its firmware to be more competitive, including the addition of an IMU-interface.

The DF rover key issue was the implementation of the GReCo3 ASIC that was developed and tested in the previous phase onto our commercial dual frequency rover receivers.

The GLB rover needed to combine the separate L-band receiver board onto our core rover receiver board, so that a one-board solution will be available.

The DF base station activity was urgently needed to commercialise a dual frequency base station receiver with GLONASS capability.

The MF base station addressed the need to have a multi-frequency, multi-constellation base station receiver.

The MF base station needed to implement the capacity to track more satellites and the capability to receive new satellite GNSS constellations (Galileo and Compass).

The MA receiver development needed to provide heading and attitude information on a rover platform and allowing GLONASS tracking on top of GPS.


The objectives of the project were largely achieved and provide multiple benefits to Septentrio.

On top of the research on fundamental GNSS building blocks, six product developments were completed to strengthen the competitive position of existing products and develop new products that have broadened our portfolio substantially.

Especially the implementation of the new baseband ASIC gives us a solid receiver cornerstone for several years, starting with the three new products that are launched commercially as a result of this contract.

  • The GLB rover with PPP technology introduces a brand new product in our rover product family that gives access to a complete new market segment. Whereas previously we had a separate L-band card that allowed access to the Inmarsat worldwide satellite-based augmentation signal, now we can offer the combined solution of GNSS and Inmarsat tracking and resulting positioning on one card.
  • The multi frequency base station will become the state-of-the-art receiver in the GNSS measurement segment.
  • With the multi antenna receiver we provide a successor to the successful PolaRx2eH/@ products for a number of specific applications.

The key features of the SF rover receiver are:

  • 16 universal L1 channels (full-GNSS L1B/C)
  • 8 GPS only channels
  • Fast Acquisition Unit (equivalent to 2048 complex correlators)
  • Multipath mitigation support
  • SBAS and DGPS support
  • 1.2 W typical dissipation
  • Sub-credit-card size
  • 20 Hz update rate

The DF rover (see figure below) dual band dual constellation receiver is build around Septentrio´s ASIC GReCo3A. It accepts antenna signals in 2 bands and interfaces with external terminals through an 80-pins interface. The receiver interacts with the external world over three COM-ports that support rates up to 1 Mbps as well as a full speed USB 2.0 client (device) interface.

click for larger image

The DF base station comprises of a DF rover board which is mounted on a carrier-board that provides Ethernet and logging functionalities.

The GLB rover is a new dual band dual constellation receiver, built around Septentrio´s ASIC GReCo3A. It accepts GNSS signals in 2 bands as well as Inmarsat L-band beams through its single antenna connector. The receiver can also receive GPS L5 and Galileo E5a/b/AltBOC.

The MF base-station receiver is based on a single receiver board with two GreCo3 baseband processors providing each 136 hardware channels.

The wideband RF and digital front-end architecture enables the simultaneous reception of all required signal bands (GPS L1, L2, L5; GLO L1, L2, L3; GAL E1, E5a, E5b, E5AltBOC) through only two RF paths.

The MA receiver is a new multi antenna receiver intended for heading applications. It is available in an OEM board and in a housing. The main features are:

  • Simultaneous tracking on two antennas of:
    • 14 GPS satellites
    • 12 Glonass satellites
  • 20 Hz PVT (heading and RTK simultaneously)
  • 4 COM ports
  • Full Ethernet Support
  • USB 2.0

The activity started in June 2009 and ended in July 2011 according to plan.

Current status