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tb318

tb318

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06/16/2009

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1
TB318.1
http://www.intersil.com or 407-727-9207 | Copyright © Intersil Corporation 1999
The NCO as a Stable, Accurate Synthesizer 
Low Jitter Frequency Reference 
In communication and other circuits, it is often necessary toproduce an accurate reference signal whose frequency andphase can be precisely controlled in real time. The Numeri-cally Controlled Oscillator (NCO) is ideally suited for this pur-pose. For some applications, the output reference signal is asquare wave, so the temptation is to use only the MSB of theNCO output. This is useful in low frequency applicationssuch as motor controllers, but is inadequate for most com-munications tasks. This is because the zero crossings of thissignal can vary by one period of the input clock from onepulse to the next, which creates an unacceptable amount of jitter in the output. For example, if the NCO is clocked at30MHz, the jitter is 33ns. For a 1MHz square wave, thisresults in 12
o
of phase jitter. The straightforward solution isto use an NCO with a much higher clock rate. This is not costeffective for applications requiring phase jitter of less than5ns, however, since it requires a sample rate of 200 MegaSamples Per Second, (MSPS), which drives the user to anECL NCO.A much less costly circuit which solves this problem is shownin Figure 1. The output of the comparator is a square wavewith much less jitter than the NCO alone. The basic idea isthat the sampled sine wave output of the NCO is convertedto a smooth sine wave, which is converted back to a squarewave with a comparator. In the circuit shown, the comparatordrives a filter, which attenuates the odd order harmonics sothat the final output of the circuit is a sine wave. The upperlimit on the purity of the sine wave is also much better thanthat of the NCO, as will be seen below.
FIGURE 1. MINIMUM SPUR CIRCUIT
DACROLLOFFAMHARMONICSALIASf
CLK
f
CLK
f
CLK
FILTERRESPONSENCOD/AFILTER FILTERFILTERRESPONSEf
CLK
     A     M     P     L     I     T     U     D     E
f
C
2f
C
3f
C
FREQf
C
2f
C
FREQf
C
2f
C
3f
C
4f
C
5f
C
6f
C
7f
C
FREQHARMONICS
     A     M     P     L     I     T     U     D     E
f
C
FREQ
     A     M     P     L     I     T     U     D     E
HARMONICAM
A     M     P     L     I     T     U     D     E
Technical BriefMay 199
 
The primary sources of error in this circuit are:
In the NCO, spurs are classified as either AM or PM. PMspurs are due to truncation of the phase in calculating thesine and cosine. If M = number of bits into the input of theSine/Cosine Generator, the PM spur level is -6M + 5.17dB[1].The AM spurs are due to amplitude quantization on the out-put of the NCO. If the number of NCO output bits is N, theAM spur level is approximately equal to -6.02N - 1.76dB. [1]There will also be jitter due to the clock oscillator driving theNCO, but since it is only the short term jitter, not the longterm stability of the oscillator that contributes to phase noise,this will be negligible if a reasonably good oscillator is used.The DAC introduces additional spurs which come from threesources: Intermodulation spurs due to nonlinearities in theDAC; a spur at the clock oscillator frequency due to clockfeed-through; and power supply noise. The DAC also faith-fully reproduces the aliases and harmonics that are unavoid-able products of the NCO due to the digital nature of theoutput.The bandpass filter on the output of the DAC eliminates theclock feedthrough, aliases due to the sampled nature of theNCO output and most of the AM spurs. Spurs within the passband are unchanged. The spectrum of the DAC output is atone surrounded by spurs and noise in the frequency bandcorresponding to the pass band of the filter with negligiblenoise elsewhere. The area comprised of the tone, spurs andnoise is known as the pedestal.The input of the comparator is a relatively clean sine wavewhich the comparator converts into a square wave. This lim-iting action eliminates the AM spurs but has no effect on thePM spurs. For this reason, the number of bits used on theoutput of the NCO and the input of the DAC has little mea-surable effect on the output. The primary contributions toerrors on the output of the comparator are the PM spurs onits input, which are passed through relatively unaffected, andpower supply noise, which is attenuated by the power supplyrejection of the comparator. If the filter on the input of thecomparator did not remove the aliases and clock feedthrough, then the comparator will generate intermodulationcomponents. This makes a good filter and a careful fre-quency plan essential.If the desired output of the circuit is a sine wave rather than asquare wave, the output of the comparator is filtered toextract the fundamental - that is, to suppress the odd orderharmonics of the square wave signal. Note that this signal ismuch cleaner than the output of the first filter, since the com-parator has removed the AM spurs.The circuit shown here is often used to generate the refer-ence tone for an indirect loop PLL synthesizer. In this case,the output of this circuit is fed into one input of a mixer, withthe other input of the mixer driven by a high frequency VCO.The output of the mixer is a high frequency tone. The phasenoise at the output of the mixer due to the noise in the refer-ence circuit will be equal to the spur level of the referencecircuit plus 20*log10(output frequency/NCO frequency). Forexample, using the 45106 as a 5MHz reference for a 1GHzsynthesizer, the spurs on the output of the reference wouldincrease by 20log10(200), so the output spur level would be-114 + 46 = -68dBc at 1GHz. The NCO frequency resolutionis 0.008Hz at 33 MSPS, so the tuning resolution of the syn-thesizer is 200(0.008) = 1.6Hz. Finer resolution can beobtained by cascading the Time Accumulator with the PhaseAccumulator. (See below).
Extended Frequency Resolution 
The phase accumulator of the HSP45106 (NCO16) is 32 bitswide. This corresponds to a frequency resolution of (SampleFrequency)/2
32
. For a 25 MSPS sample rate, this results inan output frequency resolution of 0.006Hz. In certain appli-cations, there is a requirement for much greater resolution.The NCO16 can address these applications using the TimeAccumulator as an extension of the Phase Accumulator. Fre-quency resolutions of up to 64 bits can be obtained in thisconfiguration. Using the previous example of a 25MHz clock,the frequency resolution is 25MHz/2
64
= 1.35pHz. Using theparts in this configuration requires a small change to theexternal control logic: The Timer Accumulator Register mustbe loaded over the control bus interface. This mode of oper-ation has no effect on any of the other performance parame-ters, such as spurious free dynamic range, phase resolution,etc.To configure the HSP45106 for this application, the setupshown in Figure 2. Note that the Timer Accumulator output,TICO, is connected to the Phase Accumulator input, PACI.To set the output frequency of the part, the Center Fre-quency Register and the Timer Accumulator must be loaded.Assuming that the Offset Register is not used, the equationfor calculating the output frequency is now:Center Frequency = f
CLK
x (Center Frequency Register /2
32
)+ (Timer Accumulator Register / 2
64
)In this equation, the contents of the value in the Center Fre-quency Register is a two's complement number, meaningthat the part tunes from -(CLK Frequency) / 2 to +(CLK Fre-quency) / 2. The value in the Timer Accumulator is anunsigned number. It is unsigned because it provides thecarry in to the Phase Accumulator, which is always added tothe LSB of the current phase value.
MOD0-2PMSELC0-15WRA0-2CSENPOREGENCFREGENOFREGENPHACENTIGEGINHOFRINITPACPACIINITTACTESTPAR/SERBINFMTCLKSIN0-15COS0-15OESOECHSP45106DECODEMICROPROCESSORDATAWEADDRESSGNDGNDGNDV
CC
V
CC
V
CC
V
CC
V
CC
V
CC
V
CC
STARTLOGICOSCILLATORTICO
FIGURE 2. EXTENDED FREQUENCY RESOLUTION CIRCUIT
Technical Brief 318 

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