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Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM)

While 8 PSK is commonly used, higher order M-ary is not common as the neighbor
points get very close which increases the probability of symbol and bit error. To
maintain a reasonable BER, the SNR becomes very large which is impractical for most
communication links.
QAM is a 2D signal space modulation scheme that uses the same basis functions as
before:

1 (t ) =

2
t
cos(2f c t )rect
T
T

and

2 (t ) =

2
t
sin( 2f c t )rect
T
T

QAM constellations vary significantly and there is no standard way of assigning


constellation points to the signal alphabet hence the simplest approach for describing
QAM is by example. Consider a 16 QAM signal as shown below:
2(t)

1(t)

decision
boundaries

Quadrature amplitude modulation.doc

The signals can be written as

S i = si ,11 (t ) + si , 2 2 (t )
where
s i ,1 { 3,1,1,3} E
s i , 2 { 3,1,1,3} E
Note E is not the symbol energy but rather E is the shortest distance from a
constellation point to a decision boundary.
As before, the number of symbols contained per QAM symbol is log2(M) where M is the
number of constellation points or signals in the alphabet.
The easiest way of obtaining the approximate BER is to view QAM as two orthogonal
independent PAM schemes with M levels each. Note that this analysis is only valid
for square QAM modulation schemes such as the 16 QAM example above.
Consider the 4 level PAM constellation below

-3

-1

Define E as an energy scaling factor such that the distance between a constellation point
and the decision line is E . Consider the case where u=1 was sent. The probability
that an error occurs such that it is interpreted as u=-1 or u=3 is given by the
conditional probability
2E

P (1 | 1) = P(3 | 1) = Q

N
0

Hence the probability of error given that u=1 is


2E

Pe|1 = 2Q

N
0

Quadrature amplitude modulation.doc

Likewise for the other interior point u=-1


2E

Pe|1 = 2Q

N
0

For the end points u=-3 and u=3, the probability of error is half this value as there are
only 1 neighboring state for the end points. Hence
2E

Pe|3 = Pe|3 = Q

N
0

The total probability of symbol error for the 1D four state PAM system is
Pe = Pe|3 P3 + Pe|1 P1 + Pe|1 P1 + Pe|3 P3
where P-3 is the probability that the input is 3 etc. It is reasonable to assume that

P3 = P1 = P1 = P3 =

1
4

such that
Pe =

2E

1 2 E

+ 2Q 2 E + Q 2 E = 3 Q 2 E
+
Q
Q
2
N
N
N 2 N
4 N 0
0
0
0
0

Next we have to determine the average energy per PAM symbol as a function of E which
is
3 2 + 12 + 12 + 3 2
E pam = E
= 5E
4
Also the energy per QAM symbol is twice that of the energy per PAM modulation.
Hence, denoting Es as the average QAM symbol energy we have

E s = 10 E
Consequently
3 2Es
Pe = Q
2 10 N 0

Let Ps be the probability of symbol error of the 16 QAM modulation. This is easily
determined from the union bound based on considering QAM as two independent and

Quadrature amplitude modulation.doc

orthogonal PAM modulations is straight forward to apply. For moderate SNRs it is


quite tight and therefore used in practice.
The union bound for QAM is
Es
Ps = 2 Pe = 3Q
5N 0

The exact probability of symbol error is determined in the same manner as we did for
QPSK. That is
Es
Ps = 2 Pe Pe = 3Q
5N
0

9 Es
Q
4 5N
0

If we assume that grey coding of the 16 QAM modulation and assume that errors are only
made to the neighboring lattice point then a single bit error will occur every time there is
a symbol error. Also for the 16 QAM modulation Es=4Eb as there are 4 bits per symbol.
Consequently
4 Eb
Pb = 3Q
5N 0

Comparing with BPSK, the Eb/No requirement for a given BER is more than
10log10(5/2)=4dB for the 16 QAM modulation. This is the penalty that is paid for having
a more bandwidth efficient modulation. ie 4 bits/sym vs 1bit/sym.
Section 6.4 in Haykin outlines the general development of the square QAM constellation
performance which follows a very similar development to the 16 QAM analysis given
above.

Quadrature amplitude modulation.doc

Quadrature amplitude modulation.doc

Note that the probability of symbol error for QAM is twice that of the probability of
symbol error for the equivalent PAM.
Note error in curve for 4QAM or 4PSK which should be 2x higher.

Quadrature amplitude modulation.doc

Note 16PSK requires higher Eb/No than 16QAM which is why it is not used.

Power Spectral Density of QAM constellations


As square QAM constellations can be regarded as two orthogonal independent PAM
modulations that are transmitted simultaneously the PSD of QAM is merely twice the
PSD of the individual PAM modulations.
recall
For v(t) is given as
v(t ) =

n =

g (t nT )

the PSD is
Sv ( f ) =

1
S g ( f )C ( fT )
T

where Sg(f) is the ESD of g(t) and


C ( fT ) =

c ( m )e

j 2fmT

m =

where c(m) is the autocorrelation of the data sequence given by

c ( m) = I q I m + q
For 4-PAM with levels of {-3,-1,1,3} we have
m=0
10
c ( m) =
0 otherwise
Such that C(fT)=10 and the PSD of the 4 level PAM signal becomes
Sv ( f ) =

10
Sg ( f )
T

and the PSD of the 16 QAM modulation becomes

Quadrature amplitude modulation.doc

S16QAM ( f ) =

20
Sg ( f )
T

Quadrature amplitude modulation.doc