Orthogonal FrequencyDivision Multiplexing
Orthogonal frequency divisionmultiplexing (OFDM) is a multi-carrier transmission technique that has beenrecently recognized as an excellentmethod for high speed bi-directionalwireless data communication. Itshistory dates back to the 1960s, but ithas recently become popular becauseeconomical integrated circuits that canperform the high speed digitaloperations necessary have becomeavailable. OFDM effectively squeezesmultiple modulated carriers tightlytogether, reducing the requiredbandwidth but keeping the modulatedsignals orthogonal so they do notinterfere with each other. Today, thetechnology is used in such systems asasymmetric digital subscriber line(ADSL) as well as wireless systemssuch as IEEE 802.11a/g (Wi-Fi*) andIEEE 802.16 (WiMAX*). It is also usedfor wireless digital audio and videobroadcasting.It is based on frequency divisionmultiplexing (FDM), which is atechnology that uses multiplefrequencies to simultaneously transmitmultiple signals in parallel. Each signalhas its own frequency range (sub-carrier) which is then modulated bydata. Each sub-carrier is separated bya guard band to ensure that they donot overlap. These sub-carriers arethen demodulated at the receiver byusing filters to separate the bands.
Figure 1: FDM with Nine Sub-carriers Using Filters
OFDM is similar to FDM but muchmore spectrally efficient by spacingthe sub-channels much closer together (until they are actuallyoverlapping). This is done by findingfrequencies that are orthogonal, whichmeans that they are perpendicular in amathematical sense, allowing thespectrum of each sub-channel tooverlap another without interferingwith it. In Figure 2, the effect of this isseen as the required bandwidth isgreatly reduced by removing guardbands and allowing signals to overlap.In order to demodulate the signal, adiscrete Fourier transform (DFT) isneeded. Fast Fourier transform (FFT)chips are commercially available,making this a relatively easyoperation.
Figure 2: OFDM with Nine Sub-carriers
In the below case we have 256 OFDMwith 192 data sub-carriers, eight pilotsub-carriers and 56 nulls. In its mostbasic form, each data sub-carrier could be on or off to indicate a one or zero bit of information. However, either phase shift keying (PSK) or quadrature amplitude modulation(QAM) is typically employed toincrease the data throughput. So inthis case, a data stream would be splitinto
(192) parallel data streams,each at 1/
(1/192) of the original rate.Each stream is then mapped to the