Category Archives: Modulation

MSK, QAM, OFDM

Index Modulation Explained

Wireless researchers are continuously exploring ways to increase the spectral efficiency (bits/sec/Hz) and energy efficiency (bits/Joule) of wireless communication systems [1]. Spectral efficiency can generally be improved by using larger constellations or by using multiple antennas at the transmitter and receiver, better known as MIMO. But increasing energy efficiency is not that straightforward. Let’s consider this in bit more detail.

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MSK Demodulation Using a Discriminator

It is widely believed that performance of non-coherent receivers is much worse than performance of coherent receivers in terms of Bit Error Rate (BER). Although this is true to some extent but as we show in this post the difference in performance is not that much in case of Minimum Shift Keying (MSK). In fact, there is only a difference of about one dB in an AWGN environment at high Signal to Noise Ratios (SNR). The difference is somewhat larger in flat fading environment but given the simplicity of implementation of a non-coherent receiver the trade-off might be worth it.
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Orthogonal Minimum Shift Keying (OMSK)

Some Background

Before we delve deep into Minimum Shift Keying (MSK) and its performance in presence of co-channel interference the reader is advised to look at the following posts.

Post 1 – MSK BER performance in AWGN and flat fading environment when viewed as extension of BPSK

Post 2 – MSK Power Spectral Density and its BER performance in AWGN when viewed as a CPM

Post 3 – MSK BER Performance in AWGN and flat fading environment when viewed as a CPM

Co-channel interference is a phenomenon widely encountered in wireless communication systems and the main reason for that is frequency reuse, which allows the same frequency band to be used over and over again in geographically non-contiguous areas. GSM and other wireless communication systems, using MSK modulation, suffer from the same problem. This has been widely studied in the literature and interference rejection techniques have been proposed. The worst case is one where the power of both the signals (wanted signal and interference) is almost the same and there is no frequency or phase offset. 
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MSK Bit Error Rate in Rayleigh Fading

I - In the previous two posts we discussed MSK performance in an AWGN channel, first presenting the MATLAB/OCTAVE Code for one sample per symbol case [Post 1], and then extending it to the more general case of multiple samples per symbol [Post 2]. This helps us visualize the underlying beauty of Continuous Phase Modulation (CPM) which reduces out of band energy and consequently lowers Adjacent Channel Interference (ACI). We also briefly touched upon the case of MSK in Rayleigh fading, but did not go into the details. So here we take a deeper dive.
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MSK – A Continuous Phase Modulation (CPM)

Some Background on MSK

I – In the previous post we presented the mathematical model and code for BER calculation of a popular modulation scheme called MSK. However in the code we shared, we only considered one sample per symbol, which makes MSK look like BPSK. While BPSK symbols fall on the real axis, MSK symbols alternate between real and imaginary axes, progressing by π/2 phase during each symbol period. MSK signal thus has memory and this can help in demodulation using advanced techniques such as Viterbi Algorithm. 
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Minimum Shift Keying Bit Error Rate in AWGN

I - Minimum Shift Keying (MSK) is a type of Continuous Phase Modulation (CPM) that has been used in many wireless communication systems. To be more precise it is Continuous Phase Frequency Shift Keying (CPFSK) with two frequencies f1 and f2. The frequency separation between the two tones is the minimum allowable while maintaining orthogonality and is equal to half the bit rate (or symbol rate, as both are the same). The frequency deviation is then given as Δf=Rb/4. The two tones have frequencies of fc±Δf where fc is the carrier frequency. MSK is sometimes also visualized as Offset QPSK (OQPSK) but we will not go into its details here. 
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M-QAM Bit Error Rate in Rayleigh Fading

We have previously discussed the bit error rate (BER) performance of M-QAM in AWGN. We now discuss the BER performance of M-QAM in Rayleigh fading. The one-tap Rayleigh fading channel is generated from two orthogonal Gaussian random variables with variance of 0.5 each. The complex random channel coefficient so generated has an amplitude which is Rayleigh distributed and a phase which is uniformly distributed. As usual the fading channel introduces a multiplicative effect whereas the AWGN is additive.

The function “QAM_fading” has three inputs, ‘n_bits’, ‘M’, ‘EbNodB’ and one output ‘ber’. The inputs are the number of bits to be passed through the channel, the alphabet size and the Energy per Bit to Noise Power Spectral Density in dB respectively whereas the output is the bit error rate (BER).

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
% FUNCTION THAT CALCULATES THE BER OF M-QAM IN RAYLEIGH FADING
% n_bits: Input, number of bits
% M: Input, constellation size
% EbNodB: Input, energy per bit to noise power spectral density
% ber: Output, bit error rate
% Copyright RAYmaps (www.raymaps.com)
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
function[ber]= QAM_fading(n_bits, M, EbNodB)
% Transmitter
k=log2(M);
EbNo=10^(EbNodB/10);
x=transpose(round(rand(1,n_bits)));
h1=modem.qammod(M);
h1.inputtype='bit';
h1.symbolorder='gray';
y=modulate(h1,x);

% Channel
Eb=mean((abs(y)).^2)/k;
sigma=sqrt(Eb/(2*EbNo));
w=sigma*(randn(n_bits/k,1)+1i*randn(n_bits/k,1));
h=(1/sqrt(2))*(randn(n_bits/k,1)+1i*randn(n_bits/k,1));
r=h.*y+w;

% Receiver
r=r./h;
h2=modem.qamdemod(M);
h2.outputtype='bit';
h2.symbolorder='gray';
h2.decisiontype='hard decision';
z=demodulate(h2,r);
ber=(n_bits-sum(x==z))/n_bits
return
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

64-QAM Constellation

M-QAM Bit Error Rate in Rayleigh Fading
M-QAM Bit Error Rate in Rayleigh Fading

The bit error rates of four modulation schemes 4-QAM, 16-QAM, 64-QAM and 256-QAM are shown in the figure above. All modulation schemes use Gray coding which gives a few dB of margin in the BER performance. As with the AWGN case each additional bit per symbol requires about 1.5-2 dB in signal to ratio to achieve the same BER.

Although not shown here similar behavior is observed for higher order modulation schemes such as 1024-QAM and 4096-QAM (the gap in the signal to noise ratio for the same BER is increased to about 5dB).

Lastly we explain some of the terms used above.

Rayleigh Fading

Rayleigh Fading is a commonly used term in simulation of Digital Communication Systems but it tends to differ in meaning in different contexts. The term Rayleigh Fading as used above means a single tap channel that varies from one symbol to the next. It has an amplitude which is Rayleigh distributed and a phase which is Uniformly distributed. A single tap channel means that it does not introduce any Inter Symbol Interference (ISI). Such a channel is also referred to as a Flat Fading Channel. The channel can also be referred to as a Fast Fading Channel since each symbol experiences a new channel state which is independent of its previous state (also termed as uncorrelated).

Gray Coding

When using QAM modulation, each QAM symbol represents 2,3,4 or higher number of bits. That means that when a symbol error occurs a number of bits are reversed. Now a good way to do the bit-to-symbol assignment is to do it in a way such that no neighboring symbols differ by more than one bit e.g. in 16-QAM, a symbol that represents a binary word 1101 is surrounded by four symbols representing 0101, 1100, 1001 and 1111. So if a symbol error is made, only one bit would be in error. However, one must note that this is true only in good signal conditions. When the SNR is low (noise has a higher magnitude) the symbol might be displaced to a location that is not adjacent and we might get higher number of bits in error.

Hard Decision

The concept of hard decision decoding is important when talking about channel coding, which we have not used in the above simulation. However, we will briefly explain it here. Hard decision is based on what is called “Hamming Distance” whereas soft decision is based on what it called “Euclidean Distance”. Hamming Distance is the distance of a code word in binary form, such as 011 differs from 010 and 001 by 1. Whereas the Euclidean distance is the distance before a decision is made that a bit is zero or one.  So if the received sequence is 0.1 0.6 0.7 we get a Euclidean distance of 0.8124 from 010 and 0.6782 from 001. So we cannot make a hard decision about which sequence was transmitted based on the received sequence of 011. But based on the soft metrics we can make a decision that 001 was the most likely sequence that was transmitted (assuming that 010 and 001 were the only possible transmitted sequences).

M-QAM Bit Error Rate in AWGN

Quadrature Amplitude Modulation has been adopted by most wireless communication standards such as WiMAX and LTE. It provides higher bit rates and consequently higher spectral efficiencies. It is usually used in conjunction with Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) which provides a simple technique to overcome the time varying frequency selective channel.

We have previously discussed the formula for calculating the bit error rate (BER) of QAM in AWGN. We now calculate the same using a simple Monte Carlo Simulation.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
% FUNCTION THAT CALCULATES THE BER OF M-QAM IN AWGN
% n_bits: Input, number of bits
% M: Input, constellation size
% EbNodB: Input, energy per bit to noise power spectral density
% ber: Output, bit error rate
% Copyright RAYmaps (www.raymaps.com)
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

function[ber]= QAM_AWGN(n_bits, M, EbNodB)

% Transmitter
k=log2(M);
EbNo=10^(EbNodB/10);
x=transpose(round(rand(1,n_bits)));
h1=modem.qammod(M);
h1.inputtype='bit';
h1.symbolorder='gray';
y=modulate(h1,x);

% Channel
Eb=mean((abs(y)).^2)/k;
sigma=sqrt(Eb/(2*EbNo));
w=sigma*(randn(1,n_bits/k)+1i*randn(1,n_bits/k));
r=y+w';

% Receiver
h2=modem.qamdemod(M);
h2.outputtype='bit';
h2.symbolorder='gray';
h2.decisiontype='hard decision';
z=demodulate(h2,r);
ber=(n_bits-sum(x==z))/n_bits
return
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

64-QAM Constellation in AWGN

The above function basically has three inputs and one output. The inputs are the number of bits to be passed through the channel, the size of the constellation and the signal to noise ratio in dB. The output is the bit error rate (BER). The simulation can be divided into three section namely the transmitter, the channel and the receiver. In this simulation we have used Gray coding which gives us about a dB of improvement at low to medium signal to noise ratio.

M-QAM Bit Error Rate in AWGN
M-QAM Bit Error Rate in AWGN

As seen above the BER obtained through our simulation matches quite well with the BER obtained through the theoretical formula. Each additional bit per symbol required about 2dB extra in signal to noise ratio to achieve the same bit error rate.

Lastly we explain some of the terms used above.

AWGN

All wireless receivers suffer from thermal noise which is a function of absolute temperature and bandwidth of the receiver. This noise is added to the received signal and makes detection of weak signals a major challenge. Just to given you an idea typical GSM receivers have a noise floor of -113 dBm. Therefore, if the received signal has a power of -100 dBm we get a signal to noise ratio (SNR) of 13 dB. In simulation this noise is usually modeled as a Gaussian Random Process. It is additive, as opposed to channel impairments which are multiplicative and has a flat spectrum (thus called White Noise).

Gray Coding

When using QAM modulation, each QAM symbol represents 2,3,4 or higher number of bits. That means that when a symbol error occurs a number of bits are reversed. Now a good way to do the bit-to-symbol assignment is to do it in a way such that no neighboring symbols differ by more than one bit e.g. in 16-QAM, a symbol that represents a binary word 1101 is surrounded by four symbols representing 0101, 1100, 1001 and 1111. So if a symbol error is made, only one bit would be in error. However, one must note that this is true only in good signal conditions. When the SNR is low (noise has a higher magnitude) the symbol might be displaced to a location that is not adjacent and we might get higher number of bits in error.

Hard Decision

The concept of hard decision decoding is important when talking about channel coding, which we have not used in the above simulation. However, we will briefly explain it here. Hard decision is based on what is called “Hamming Distance” whereas soft decision is based on what it called “Euclidean Distance”. Hamming Distance is the distance of a code word in binary form, such as 011 differs from 010 and 001 by 1. Whereas the Euclidean distance is the distance before a decision is made that a bit is zero or one.  So if the received sequence is 0.1 0.6 0.7 we get a Euclidean distance of 0.8124 from 010 and 0.6782 from 001. So we cannot make a hard decision about which sequence was transmitted based on the received sequence of 011. But based on the soft metrics we can make a decision that 001 was the most likely sequence that was transmitted (assuming that 010 and 001 were the only possible transmitted sequences).

BER of 64-QAM OFDM in Frequency Selective Fading-II

In the previous post we had considered a static frequency-selective channel. We now consider a time-varying frequency selective channel with 7 taps. Each tap of the time domain filter has a Gaussian distributed real component with variance 1/(2*n_tap) and a Gaussian distributed imaginary component with variance 1/(2*n_tap). The amplitude of each tap is thus Rayleigh distributed and the phase is Uniformly distributed. Since the power in each component is normalized by the filter length (n_tap) the BER performance would remain the same even if the filter length is changed (this has been verified experimentally).

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
% FUNCTION TO SIMULATE PERFORMANCE OF 64-OFDM IN TIME VARYING FREQUENCY SELECTIVE CHANNEL
% n_bits: Input, length of binary sequence
% n_fft: Input, length of FFT (Fast Fourier Transform)
% EbNodB: Input, energy per bit to noise power spectral density ratio
% ber: Output, bit error rate
% Copyright RAYmaps (www.raymaps.com)
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
function[ber]= M_QAM_OFDM_fading(n_bits,n_fft,EbNodB)

Eb=7;
M=64;
k=log2(M);
n_cyc=32;
EbNo=10^(EbNodB/10);
x=transpose(round(rand(1,n_bits)));
h1=modem.qammod(M);
h1.inputtype='bit';
h1.symbolorder='gray';
y=modulate(h1,x);
n_sym=length(y)/n_fft;
n_tap=7;

for n=1:n_sym;
    s_ofdm=sqrt(n_fft)*ifft(y((n-1)*n_fft+1:n*n_fft),n_fft);
    s_ofdm_cyc=[s_ofdm(n_fft-n_cyc+1:n_fft); s_ofdm];
    ht=(1/sqrt(2))*(1/sqrt(n_tap))*(randn(1,n_tap)+j*randn(1,n_tap));
    Hf=fft(ht,n_fft);
    r_ofdm_cyc=conv(s_ofdm_cyc,ht);
    r_ofdm_cyc=(r_ofdm_cyc(1:n_fft+n_cyc));
    wn=sqrt((n_fft+n_cyc)/n_fft)*(randn(1,n_fft+n_cyc)+j*randn(1,n_fft+n_cyc));
    r_ofdm_cyc=r_ofdm_cyc+sqrt(Eb/(2*EbNo))*wn.';
    r_ofdm=r_ofdm_cyc(n_cyc+1:n_fft+n_cyc);
    s_est((n-1)*n_fft+1:n*n_fft)=(fft(r_ofdm,n_fft)/sqrt(n_fft))./Hf.';
end

h2=modem.qamdemod(M);
h2.outputtype='bit';
h2.symbolorder='gray';
h2.decisiontype='hard decision';
z=demodulate(h2,s_est.');
ber=(n_bits-sum(x==z))/n_bits
return
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

As before we have used an FFT size of 128 and cyclic prefix of 32 samples. The FFT and IIFT operations are normalized to maintain the signal to noise ratio (SNR). The extra energy transmitted in the cyclic prefix is also accounted for in the SNR calibration.

64-QAM BER in Time Varying Frequency Selective Channel
64-QAM BER in Time Varying Frequency Selective Channel

It is observed that the BER performance of 64-QAM OFDM in the time-varying frequency-selective channel is quite similar to that in the static frequency-selective channel with complex filter taps. It must be noted that with 64-QAM the goal is to achieve higher bit rate, error rates can be improved using antenna diversity and channel coding schemes.

Given below is the wrapper that should be used along with the above code. The wrapper basically calls the above routine for each value of EbNodB. The length of the binary sequence and the FFT size are other inputs to the function. The bit error rate at the specific EbNodB is the output of the function.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
clear all;
close all;
k=6;
n_fft=128;
l=k*n_fft*1e3;
EbNodB=0:2:20;
for n=1:length(EbNodB);n
ber(n)=M_QAM_OFDM_fading(l,n_fft,EbNodB(n));
end;
semilogy(EbNodB,ber,'O-');
grid on
xlabel('EbNo')
ylabel('BER')
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

In future we would use the standard LTE channel models, namely EPA, EVA and ETU in our simulation.

BER of 64-QAM OFDM in Frequency Selective Fading

The real benefits of OFDM become apparent in a frequency selective channel. The introduction of the cyclic prefix (guard period) allows us to remove the Intersymbol Interference (ISI) in the time domain and frequency domain equalization allows us to overcome the channel variations in the frequency domain.

We consider a simple FIR filter for our channel model with coefficients ht=[0.8 0.54 0.24 0.10 0.04]. This is a simplistic approach since the channel coefficients are all real which means that all multipath components are co-phase. To model a more realistic channel we then introduce a uniform phase shift to all the channel coefficients.

LTE Physical Layer Parameters
LTE Physical Layer Parameters

We use an FFT size of 128 and cyclic prefix of 32 samples (16.67usec) in the simulation given below.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
% FUNCTION TO SIMULATE THE PERFORMANCE OF 64-QAM OFDM IN STATIC FREQUENCY SELECTIVE CHANNEL
% n_bits: Input, length of binary sequence
% n_fft: Input, length of FFT (Fast Fourier Transform)
% EbNodB: Input, energy per bit to noise power spectral density ratio
% ber: Output, bit error rate
% Copyright RAYmaps (www.raymaps.com)
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
function[ber]= M_QAM_OFDM_fading(n_bits,n_fft,EbNodB)

Eb=7;
M=64;
k=log2(M);
n_cyc=32;
EbNo=10^(EbNodB/10);
x=transpose(round(rand(1,n_bits)));
h1=modem.qammod(M);
h1.inputtype='bit';
h1.symbolorder='gray';
y=modulate(h1,x);
n_sym=length(y)/n_fft;

for n=1:n_sym;
    s_ofdm=sqrt(n_fft)*ifft(y((n-1)*n_fft+1:n*n_fft),n_fft);
    s_ofdm_cyc=[s_ofdm(n_fft-n_cyc+1:n_fft); s_ofdm];
    ht=[0.8 0.54 0.24 0.10 0.04];
    Hf=fft(ht,n_fft);
    r_ofdm_cyc=conv(s_ofdm_cyc,ht);
    r_ofdm_cyc=(r_ofdm_cyc(1:n_fft+n_cyc));
    wn=sqrt((n_fft+n_cyc)/n_fft)*(randn(1,n_fft+n_cyc)+j*randn(1,n_fft+n_cyc));
    r_ofdm_cyc=r_ofdm_cyc+sqrt(Eb/(2*EbNo))*wn.';
    r_ofdm=r_ofdm_cyc(n_cyc+1:n_fft+n_cyc);
    s_est((n-1)*n_fft+1:n*n_fft)=(fft(r_ofdm,n_fft)/sqrt(n_fft))./Hf.';
end

h2=modem.qamdemod(M);
h2.outputtype='bit';
h2.symbolorder='gray';
h2.decisiontype='hard decision';
z=demodulate(h2,s_est.');
ber=(n_bits-sum(x==z))/n_bits
return
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

We also have accounted for the extra energy transmitted for the cyclic prefix in our signal to noise calibration.

64-QAM OFDM BER
64-QAM OFDM BER

It can be seen that up to 12dB the BER performance for the two cases is quite similar, however, after 12dB the BER for the real case drops significantly whereas the BER for the complex case goes down in linear fashion. The error rate can be significantly improved by employing channel coding and antenna diversity schemes.