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E&CE 411, Spring 2005, Handout 3, G.

Gong

Multicarrier Modulation and OFDM


1 Description of Multicarrier Modulation and OFDM

In Chater 4 (Chapter 6 in the text), we considered digital transmission through bandlimited channels and observed that such channels cause intersymbol interference. In such a case, a channel equalizer is employed at the receiver to compensate for the channel distortion. If the channel is a bandpass channel with a specied bandwidth, the information-bearing signal may be generated at the baseband and then translated in frequency to the passband of the channel. Thus, the information-bearing signal is transmitted on a signal carrier. An alternative approach to the design of a bandwidth-ecient communication system in the presence of channel distortion or equivalently ISI, is to divide the available channel bandwidth into a number of equal-bandwidth subchannels, where the bandwidth of each channel is suciently narrow so that the frequency response characteristics of the subchannels are nearly equal. Such a division of the overall bandwidth into smaller subchannels is illustrated in Figure 1.
|C (f )|

0 f

Figure 1: Subdivision of the channel bandwidth W into narrow band subchannels of equal width f Thus, we create N = W/f subchannels, where dierent information symbols can be transmitted simultaneously into N subchannels. Consequently, the data symbol is transmitted by frequency-division multiplexing (FDM). This is known as a multicarrier modulation system. Thats, each subchannel is associated with a carrier fi given by fi = f0 + (i 1)f, i = 1, , N (1)

which is the mid-frequency in the ith subchannel. If the subcarriers are orthogonal over the symbol duration Ts , then it is referred to as orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM). A general OFDM modulator is shown in Figure 2.

E&CE 411, Spring 2005, Handout 3, G. Gong


m1 bits f1 m2 bits f2

Serial to
data

OFDM signal out

parallel converter
mk bits fk

Figure 2: A General Model of an OFDM System The OFDM concept utilizes parsing of the input data bit stream (which may be due to a single source or several sources multiplexed) into N symbol streams, each with symbol rate 1/Ts , and each of which in turn is used to modulate parallel, synchronous subcarriers. With an OFDM system having N subchannels, the symbol rate on each subcarrier is reduced by a factor of N relative to the symbol rate on a single carrier system that employs the entire bandwidth W and transmits data at the same rate as OFDM. If the modulation scheme used on the ith subcarrier can accommodate ki bits per symbol, 1 Hz, where Ts is the symbol duration of the subcarriers, and the subcarriers are spaced by T s 1 i.e, f = Ts (recall this condition makes these subcarriers orthogonal), then Tof dm , the symbol duration of the OFDM system and Ts , the symbol duration of the subcarriers are related by Ts = N Tof dm . (2)

By selecting N to be suciently large, the symbol interval Ts of the subcarriers can be made signicantly larger than the time duration of the channel-time dispersion. Hence, ISI can be made arbitrarily small by selection of N . In other words, each subchannel appears to have a xed frequency response C (fk ), k = 0, 1, , N 1. A typical OFDM spectrum is illustrated in 1 . Figure 3 for rectangular pulse shaping and separation of subcarriers by T s As long as we maintain time synchronization among the subcarriers, OFDM allows us to transmit a dierent number of bits/symbol on each carrier. Therefore, subcarriers that yield a higher SNR due to a lower attenunation can be modulated to carry more bits/symbol than subchannels that yield a lower SNR (high attenuation).

DFT and IDFT Implementated OFDM

Let {Xk } be a symbol sequence which is used to modulate N simultaneously transmitted subcarriers. From (1), we have fk = f0 + Let T = Ts + k1 Hz, Ts k = 1, , N 1.

E&CE 411, Spring 2005, Handout 3, G. Gong

20

10

Power/frequency (dB/Hz)

10

20

30

40

50

20

25

30 Frequency (Hz)

35

40

Figure 3: Spectrum of an OFDM signal where Ts is the symbol duration of the subcarriers and is a guard time interval, assumed to occur at the start of a new signaling period, which is used to minimize ISI eects. Then, the OFDM signal in the complex baseband signalling can be written as 1 x(t) = N
N 1

Xi exp(j 2it/Ts ),
i=0

0 t < Ts + .

The time variable sampled at t = kTof dm yields 1 x(kTof dm ) = N


N 1

Xi exp(j 2ikTof dm /Ts )


i=0

Since Tof dm /Ts = 1/N from (2), let xk = x(kTof dm ), we have 1 xk = N


N 1

Xi exp(j 2ik/N ), k = 0, 1, , N 1
i=0

(3)

which is inverse discrete Fourier transform (IDFT). Thus, we can generate x(t) by the IDFT in (3). From (3), we know that the sequence corresponds to samples of the multicarrier OFDM signal x(t), consisting of N carriers. The signal samples {xk } generated by computing IDFT (i.e., (3)) are passed through a digital-to-analog (D/A) converter, where output, ideally, is the OFDM signal waveform x(t). This is illustrated in Figure 4.

E&CE 411, Spring 2005, Handout 3, G. Gong

Serial to
data

parallel converter

IDFT

D/A converter

Channel

A/D converter

DFT

Parallel to serial converter

Estimated data

Figure 4: OFDM implementation by IDFT and DFT

Some Discussions

A major problem with the multicarrier modulation in general and OFDM system in particular is the high peak-to-average power ratio (PAR) that is inherent in the transmitted signal. Large signal peaks occur in the transmitted signal when the signals in the N subchannels add constructingly in phase. Such large signal peaks may saturate the power amplier at the transmitter and thus, cause intermodulation distortion in the transmitted signal. Multicarrier OFDM using QAM modulation on each of the subcarrier has been implemented for a variety of applications, including high-speed transmission over telephone lines, such as digital subcarrier lines. This type of OFDM modulator has also been called discrete multitone (DMT) modulator. OFDM is also used in digital audio broadcasting in Europe and other parts of the world and in digital cellular communication systems.