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WLAN IEEE 802.

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

from the May 2004 issue.

2004 Horizon House Publications, Inc.



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.