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11a/g

EVM DEFINITION

EVM is a measure of the deviation of the

demodulated received symbol (I,Q) from the

original transmitted data symbol (I

o

, Q

o

). The

ratio of the error vector magnitude (see Fig-

ure 1) to the original symbol magnitude de-

fines the EVM as

In practical specifications, a statistical aver-

age is taken for the EVM. The IEEE

802.11a/g standards

1

define the root-mean-

square EVM for an OFDM signal as

EVM

E

P

o

( ) 1

PATRICK NARAINE

Skyworks Solutions Inc.

Irvine, CA

T

he 802.11a/g WLAN standards stipulate

the use of orthogonal frequency division

multiplexing (OFDM) signals with

M-QAM symbols modulation, where M can

be as high as 64. These wideband digital mod-

ulations demand PAs with high linearity, due

to the inherent high peak-to-average ratio

(PAR) of these signals. This article describes

the PAR and cumulative complementary dis-

tribution function (CCDF) of WLAN signals

and their implications for PAs.

A method is proposed to determine the PA

nonlinear response, and, in turn, the EVM

performance. A computer algorithm is de-

scribed, which uses the proposed model to

predict EVM for WLAN PAs driven with

OFDM signals.

Finally, predicted versus measured EVM

results are presented for two high power and

high linearity WLAN power amplifiers

(SKY65130 and SKY65131).

PREDICTING THE EVM

PERFORMANCE OF WLAN

POWER AMPLIFIERS

WITH OFDM SIGNALS

This article details a method of predicting the error vector magnitude (EVM) of

wireless local area network (WLAN) power amplifiers (PA). It starts with a

definition and explanation of EVM, and explains the EVM specification as

defined by the IEEE 802.11a/g standards.

1

The article then describes the

importance of PA linearity and the method of determining linearity based on the

gain compression response (AM/AM) and the phase distortion (AM/PM)

characteristics of the PA.

Reprinted with permission of MICROWAVE JOURNAL

where

L

p

length of the package

(must be > symbols)

N

f

number of frames used

in the EVM measurement

(must be > 20)

I

o

, Q

o

I and Q values of the original

OFDM symbol

I, Q received I and Q values

k k

th

subcarrier of the OFDM

symbol

P

o

average power of the

constellation

PA LINEARITY

(AM/AM AND AM/PM)

The linearity of a PA amplifier can

be assessed from its AM/AM and

AM/PM response. The AM/AM re-

sponse is usually plotted as the input

power versus the resulting PA gain;

the AM/PM response is the input

power versus the resulting phase shift

introduced by the PA.

A good indication of the PA linear-

ity is the input (or output) P1dB

point. The input P1dB point is de-

fined as the input power at which the

PA gain drops by 1 dB from its small-

signal gain value (see Figure 2).

When the PA is operated close to its

P1dB point, the output amplitude

will start to be distorted (that is, it

will not linearly follow changes in its

input power). The same is true for

the insertion phase response. There-

fore, when selecting a PA for linear

output power operation, it is very im-

portant to select a PA with the appro-

priate P1dB point.

PAR FOR 802.11a/g

OFDM SIGNALS

The IEEE 802.11a and IEEE

802.11g standards specify the use of

OFDM 64-QAM signals for in-

creased data rates. The signal enve-

lope of these signals is inherently very

peaky (that is, it shows large devia-

tion from the average power level).

The variation of the input signal from

its average level is described by the

PAR term. The statistical distribution

of the PAR is usual-

ly represented by

the signal CCDF.

Figure 3 shows the

CCDF for an

802.11a/g input sig-

nal with the maxi-

mum specified data

rate of 54 Mbps,

along with a refer-

ence signal, which

has a Gaussian dis-

tribution (such as

AWGN).

A review of the

CCDF summary

data (left side of the figure) indicates

that the signal PAR will be equal to or

greater than 3.66 dB 10 percent of

the time; the PAR will be equal to or

greater than 6.97 dB 1 percent of the

time.

Depending on the specified EVM

(or bit error rate), a system may only

be able to tolerate 1 percent of its to-

tal envelope being distorted, in which

case the average power input to the

PA should be set at least 6.97 dB be-

low the input P1dB compression

point.

For the maximum data rate of 54

Mbps, IEEE 802.11a/g specifications

call for an average EVM of 5.6 per-

cent. If the PA is backed-off by at

least 5 dB from its P1dB point, the

amplitude will be compressed by less

than 5.6 percent.

AM/AM AND AM/PM

MODEL FOR WLAN PA

The EVM performance of a PA

can be calculated using its AM/AM

and AM/PM responses. As discussed

in the previous sections the AM/AM

and AM/PM responses indicate the

extent to which the amplitude and

phase of the input signal is distorted.

If the input signal level is well below

the P1dB compression point of the

PA, very little AM/AM or AM/PM

distortion occurs and the EVM

should be very low. As the input sig-

nal approaches the 1 dB compression

point of the PA, significant amplitude

and phase distortion occurs and the

EVM becomes larger. Therefore, to

predict the EVM performance, the

AM/AM and AM/PM responses of

the PA must be modeled.

A PA model was developed, based

on the TWT nonlinear model pro-

posed by A. Saleh.

2

The original

Saleh model used the following equa-

tions to model AM/AM and AM/PM:

where

r input signal voltage level

a

,

a

AM/AM response constants,

typically 2 and 1, respectively

p

,

p

AM/PM response constants,

typically 2 and 3, respectively

A r

r

r

P r

r

r

a

a

p

p

( )

+

( )

1

3

1

4

2

2

2

( )

( )

TECHNICAL FEATURE

EVM

I i j k I i j k Q i j k Q i j k

LpP

N

RMS

o o

k j

Lp

o i

N

f

f

( ) ( ) ( )

+

( ) ( ) ( )

, , , , , , , ,

( )

2 2

1

52

1

1

52

2

NEW SYMBOL

VECTOR, P

e

PHASE

ERROR

ORIGINAL

SYMBOL

VECTOR, P

o

ERROR VECTOR, E

I I

o

Q

Q

Q

o

I

v Fig. 1 I-Q constellation diagram

showing the error vector magnitude.

OUTPUT P1dB

29 dBm

32

30

28

26

24

22

20

9 7 5 3

P

in

(dBm)

1 -1 -3

P

o

u

t

(

d

B

m

)

1 dB

GAIN

DROP

INPUT

P1dB

LINEAR

RESPONSE

LINE

v Fig. 2 P

out

vs. P

in

of a WLAN power

amplifier showing the P1dB point.

v Fig. 3 CCDF of an IEEE 802.11 a/g 64-QAM OFDM signal with

a data rate of 54 Mbps.

It was found that a slight modifica-

tion to Equations 3 and 4 would bet-

ter model the AM/AM and AM/PM

response of HBT PAs optimized for

linearity and efficiency (class A/B

bias). The modified equations are

The models for AM/AM and

AM/PM were tested using two Sky-

works WLAN power amplifiers

(SKY65130 and SKY65131). These

power amplifiers were built using In-

A r

r

r

P r

r

r

a

a

m

p

p

n

( )

+

( )

1

5

1

6

2

2

2

( )

( )

GaP HBT technolo-

gy, and were biased

for maximum lin-

earity (high P1dB)

and maximum DC

PAE. Table 1

shows the main RF

characteristics of

these power ampli-

fiers using 802.11g

signal conditions.

For these class A/B

HBT power ampli-

fiers, the model er-

ror was found to be

minimum when m

1.8 and n 1.4.

Using Equations

5 and 6, the predicted AM/AM and

AM/PM responses were plotted ver-

sus the measured values, as shown in

Figures 4 and 5, respectively.

EVM PREDICTION PROGRAM

A Matlab program was developed

to predict the EVM performance of

WLAN PAs. The program generates

a random bit sequence, and then

maps the bits into 64-QAM symbols.

The I and Q values of this sequence

are stored as the I

o

and Q

o

array. The

I

o

and Q

o

array is next used to form

the OFDM frequency domain signal,

S

o

(f). An inverse FFT function is

then used to compute the time do-

main signal, S

o

(t). The input time do-

main signal is then scaled to the re-

quired average input power level.

The resulting PA output time domain

signal is calculated using Equations 5

and 6. Using the FFT function, the

PA output frequency domain signal,

S

e

(f), is calculated.

From S

e

(f), the re-

sulting OFDM sym-

bols, I

e

and Q

e

, are

mapped. Equation

2 is then used to

calculate the EVM

of the PA. The com-

plete program algo-

rithm is shown in

Figure 6.

PREDICTED EVM

vs. MEASURED

EVM

The WLAN PA

test samples were

measured using the

defined IEEE

802.11g signal un-

der maximum data rate conditions of

54 Mbps (that is, 64-QAM, OFDM).

Figure 7 (bottom right table) shows

the RMS EVM which was measured

at 2.5 percent for +22 dBm average

output power. On the top left is the

de-coded IQ constellation for 64-

QAM; the bottom left shows the out-

put spectrum mask (also shown in

Figure 8, with the IEEE 802.11g

specification limits).

To determine the accuracy of the

prediction program, the EVM of the

TECHNICAL FEATURE

24

23

22

21

20

19

18

10 8 6 4 2

P

in

(dBm)

CALCULATED

MEASURED

0 -2 -4

G

A

I

N

(

d

B

)

v Fig. 4 Calculated vs. measured AM/AM

response.

TABLE I

MAIN RF PERFORMANCE

OF EXAMPLE WLAN PAS USED TO VERIFY THE EVM MODEL

RF Parameters SKY65130 SKY65131

Frequency range (MHz) 24002500 24002500

Small-signal gain (dB) 23 27

P1dB (dBm) 29 28

PAE for output power P1dB (%) 34 38

Noise figure (dB) 4 4

Power output for EVM 3% (dBm) 23 22

Power output for IEEE802.11a/g

standard transmit spectrum mask 27 26

(see Figure 8) (dBm)

10

9

8

7

6

5

10 8 6 4 2

P

in

(dBm)

CALCULATED

MEASURED

0 -2 -4

P

H

A

S

E

(

)

v Fig. 5 Calculated vs. measured AM/PM

response.

MAP TO 64-QAM SYMBOLS

STORE ORIGINAL I

o

& Q

o

VALUES

GENERATE OFDM SIGNAL IN

FREQUENCY DOMAIN, S

o

(f)

COMPUTE INVERSE-FFT OF S

o

(f)-> S

o

(t)

SCALE S

o

(t) TO AVERAGE INPUT POWER

COMPUTE OUTPUT SIGNAL, S

e

(t), USING

AM/AM AND AM/PM RESPONSE

CALCULATED

FROM EQUATIONS 5 AND 6

COMPUTE FFT OF S

e

(t) -> S

e

(f)

USE AMPLITUDE AND PHASE OF S

e

(f)

TO CALCULATE NEW I

e

& Q

e

USE EQUATION 2 TO COMPUTE EVM

GENERATE PSEUDORANDOM BIT SEQUENCE

v Fig. 6 Matlab algorithm for computing

EVM from the modeled PAs AM/AM and

AM/PM responses.

v Fig. 7 WLAN PA measurements top left: 64-QAM

constellation, top right: EVM vs. carrier number, bottom left:

Tx spectral mask, bottom right: RMS EVM table.

PA was measured at different levels

of average input power. Figure 9

shows the predicted and measured

EVM versus output power. The EVM

plot shows that the predicted EVM

closely matches the actual measured

values. The prediction model actually

has a slight over-estimation of the

EVM around the inflection point of

the curve. This is due to the model

going into compression before the ac-

tual device. Note that the PA AM/AM

response shows a slight gain expan-

sion (~0.5 dB) about the inflection

point. At this location the model is

predicting a higher level of gain com-

pression.

TECHNICAL FEATURE

CONCLUSION

This article describes the EVM re-

quirements for WLAN OFDM appli-

cations and the importance of PA lin-

earity in order to achieve adequate

EVM, along with a review of the 1 dB

compression point and the CCDF

and PAR characteristics of WLAN

OFDM signals. It further proposes a

method for predicting the amplitude

and phase distortion introduced by a

WLAN PA when driven into its non-

linear region of operation. A comput-

er algorithm is described that uses

the proposed PA nonlinear model to

predict the EVM performance.

The EVM model was compared to

the measurements taken from sample

WLAN power amplifiers using a 64-

QAM OFDM signal with a maximum

data rate of 54 Mbps. The results

show the model very closely predicts

the measured performance of the

power amplifiers. s

References

1. IEEE Std. 802.11a1999, Part 11: Wireless

LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and

Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications.

2. A. Saleh, Frequency-independent and

Frequency-dependent Nonlinear Models

of TWT Amplifiers, IEEE Transactions on

Communications, Vol. 29, No. 11, Novem-

ber 1981.

Patrick Naraine

earned his BSEE and

MSEE degrees from

McMaster University,

Hamilton, Ontario,

Canada. He was

technical payload

manager of Canadas

first remote sensing

satellite built for the

Canadian Space

Agency in 1996. He

then joined Nortel Networks, where he was a

group leader in charge of RF system designs

for AMPS, TDMA and EDGE base station

transceivers. From 1999 to 2002, he worked at

AT&T Wireless on the system design, testing

and deployment of the first US commercial

fixed wireless voice and high speed Internet

system using OFDM modulated signals. He is

currently working on system designs for

RFICs, MMICs and PAMs at Skyworks

Solutions Inc. He can be reached via e-mail at

patrick.naraine@skyworksinc.com.

14

12

10

8

6

4

2

0

26 24 22 20 18

OUTPUT POWER (dBm)

MEASURED PREDICTED

16 14 12 10

E

V

M

(

%

)

v Fig. 9 Predicted vs. measured EVM

for a WLAN PA.

10

0

-10

-20

-30

-40

-50

2.473 2.461 2.448 2.436

FREQUENCY (GHz)

MEASURED TOTAL

OUTPUT POWER = +26 dBm

SPECIFICATION MASK

2.423 2.411

O

U

T

P

U

T

P

O

W

E

R

(

d

B

c

)

v Fig. 8 Output spectrum response of

SKY65131 using an 802.11a/g 64-QAM, 54

Mbps input signal.

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