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6, JUNE 2009

Frequency Domain Pilots in Time Domain

Alessio Filippi and Semih Serbetli

Abstract—In this paper, we describe and evaluate a novel followed by simple equalization algorithms. However, the

symbol synchronization algorithm for Orthogonal Frequency receiver has to be synchronized with the transmitter both

Division Multiplexing (OFDM) systems especially suited for in frequency and time. The time synchronization in OFDM

channels with very long echoes. Most of the OFDM based

standards provide known pilots in the frequency domain for systems selects the block of samples to be processed by the

channel estimation purposes. The basic idea of our contribution receiver DFT. When the appropriate block of samples is not

consists of interpreting the frequency domain pilots in the time selected, it results in inter-block-interference (IBI) among the

domain to obtain a rough channel estimate before performing the successive OFDM symbols and inter-carrier-interference (ICI)

discrete Fourier transform (DFT) and use it to properly position due to the loss of circularity of the experienced channel. Both

the DFT window. The proposed method aims to maximize the

signal-to-inter-block-interference ratio after the DFT windowing. IBI and ICI degrade the OFDM system performance. There is

In short channels, where the channel length is shorter than the a significant amount of literature dealing with synchronization

cyclic prefix length, the proposed method looks for an inter- algorithms for OFDM systems. They can be framed in two

block-interference free windowing of the OFDM symbol. In long large families: those exploiting the cyclic structure of the

channels, where the channel length is longer than the cyclic OFDM symbols and those based on additional pilots designed

prefix of the OFDM symbol, the proposed method search for

the minimum inter-block-interference power windowing of the for synchronization, see [6] and references therein. The most

OFDM symbol. common methods use the cyclic extension to jointly detect

the beginning of the OFDM symbol and correct the frequency

Index Terms—Orthogonal frequency division multiplexing,

channel estimation, fine time synchronization, IBI, SINR. offset, see e.g. [7], [8]. However, these methods are optimal

only for non-frequency selective channels. Other methods

have been proposed e.g. in [9], [10], [11], which consider

I. I NTRODUCTION the presence of frequency selective channels, but assume

O RTHOGONAL Frequency Division Multiplexing either that the channel estimation stage feeds the channel

(OFDM) is a well known multi-carrier modulation knowledge back to the synchronization algorithm or that

technique which can provide significant robustness to pilots are designed to support the synchronization.

channels with long delay spreads at the cost of a loss in

In this paper, we propose a new time synchronization

spectral efficiency [1]. It has been adopted in many standards

method robust to severe multipath channels, i.e., to channels

such as, for instance, IEEE 802.11a/n [2], the 3GPP LTE

with the main echo not necessarily having the shortest

[3], the Digital Video Broadcasting for Terrestrial and

delay, such as those in single frequency networks (SFN)

Handheld (DVB-T/H) [4] and also in the recently approved

[12]. We notice that in most of the OFDM systems there

second generation DVB-T2 standard [5]. OFDM efficiently

are known pilots modulating some sub-carriers for channel

modulates N parallel sub-carriers by performing an N -point

estimation purposes. Since the DFT operation is linear, the

inverse discrete Fourier transform (IDFT) on N complex

pilots modulating given sub-carriers can be interpreted as

data symbols. The output of the IDFT consists of N samples

added (superimposed) to the time domain OFDM signal. The

which are referred to as an OFDM symbol. The OFDM

receiver can therefore make use of this known sequence prior

symbol is usually cyclically extended and transmitted over

to the DFT operation. The idea of using the frequency domain

the air. If the cyclic extension is at least as long as the

pilot in the time domain was first published in [13], [14],

maximum delay spread of the channel, if the channel is static

[15] to provide an alternative channel estimation technique

during the duration of one OFDM symbol and if the receiver

for DVB-T systems. In this paper, we further develop the

is perfectly synchronized, the sub-carriers orthogonality is

idea of using the frequency domain pilot in the time domain,

maintained at the receiver. Therefore, the data transmitted

but we target the refinement of the time synchronization in

on each sub-carrier can be recovered by means of a DFT

OFDM systems. The proposed method could be used in any

Manuscript received September 11, 2008; revised February 10, 2009 and OFDM system with pilots inserted in the frequency domain

April 2, 2009; accepted April 6, 2008. The associate editor coordinating the for channel estimation purposes. However, depending on the

review of this letter and approving it for publication was G. Colavolpe. particular pilot pattern ad-hoc solutions might be needed to

A. Filippi is with Philips Research, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (e-mail:

alessio.filippi@philips.com). achieve the required fine time synchronization performance.

S. Serbetli is with NXP Semiconductors - Corporate I&T Research, We show this by specifying in detail two possible applications

Eindhoven, The Netherlands (e-mail: semih.serbetli@nxp.com). of the proposed algorithm to the DVB-T/H standard which

This paper was presented in part in Vehicular Technology Conference, VTC

Fall 2007, Baltimore, MD, USA. has to operate in SFN. Since in SFN all transmitters radiate

Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TWC.2009.081224 the same signal at the same time and frequency, they generate

1536-1276/09$25.00

c 2009 IEEE

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FILIPPI and SERBETLI: OFDM SYMBOL SYNCHRONIZATION USING FREQUENCY DOMAIN PILOTS IN TIME DOMAIN 3241

Scattered Pilots

f q-n

... h(n) G

t

h(q) G

h(m) G

...

.

m-q-G

.

.

FFT window

[r(q), r(q+1),…, r(q+N-1)]

Fig. 1. Example of scattered pilot (SP) positioning in an OFDM system. The

black squares indicate the pilot positions, the empty squares the data position.

Fig. 2. Effects of a multipath channel on the time domain received OFDM

symbols.

for time synchronization algorithms.

of the paths are integer multiples of the sampling period T .

The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section II In the following we will assume T = 1 and avoid the explicit

introduces the system model, describes the effect of time indication of T . Thus, the channel is a tap delay line with a

synchronization and defines the fine time synchronization as length Lc

the timing instance which minimizes the interference between hm , m ∈ [0, Lc − 1],

consecutive OFDM symbols. The proposed algorithm is h(m) = (4)

0, else.

described in Section III from a general perspective. The

algorithm is then applied to DVB-T/H in Section IV in two The received signal in discrete time can be expressed as

possible scenarios. Section V presents and comments the c −1

L

simulation results and Section VI concludes this work. r(l) = hm s(l − m) + η(l),

m=0

l = −∞, . . . , +∞, (5)

II. S YSTEM M ODEL

We consider an OFDM system with N sub-carriers signal- where η(l) is the additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) at the

ing in a frequency selective channel. Each OFDM symbol is receiver. Let us consider the case where the synchronization

composed of both data symbols and periodic scattered pilots algorithm chooses a DFT window of [r(q), r(q + 1), ..., r(q +

(SP) as, for instance, shown in Fig. 1. The data and pilots are N − 1)], q = −N − G, . . . , N + Lc − 1 to decode the 0th

modulated in blocks using an N -point IDFT to form an OFDM OFDM symbol as depicted in Fig. 2. The level of IBI caused

symbol with duration Tu = N T , where T is the sampling by choosing such a window position is highly dependent on

period. A cyclic prefix of duration TG = GT is added in the position of the first sample of the DFT window q, on

front of the signal to prevent/reduce IBI resulting in OFDM the length of the guard interval G and on the length of the

symbols of length Ts = Tu + TG = (N + G)T . Denoting channel impulse response (CIR) Lc . Note that the information

the transmitted data/pilot over the nth sub-carrier of the ith belonging to 0th OFDM symbol is transmitted through the

OFDM symbol by ai,n , the transmitted discrete time complex block [s(−G), s(−G + 1), ..., s(N − 1)], and s(l) = s(l + N )

baseband signal can be represented as for l = −G, . . . , −1, cf. (1). Let us first investigate the case

G ≥ Lc where we can choose an IBI free window for the DFT.

∞ N −1

1 j2πnl From (5), the optimum DFT window for IBI-free reception

s(lT ) = √ ai,n e N · (1)

N i=−∞ n=0 occurs when q is chosen as Lc −G−1 ≤ q ≤ 0. If erroneously

q < Lc − G − 1 is chosen, then there will be IBI from the

·v(lT − (N + G)iT ),

previous OFDM symbol. IBI signal from the previous OFDM

l = −∞, . . . , +∞, symbol in r(l) is the contribution from the {s(l)} with l < −G

with and can be represented as

1, −G ≤ l < N, c −1

L

v(l) = (2)

0, else. IBIprevious (l) = hm s(l − m) (6)

We can explicitly indicate the dependancy on the OFDM sym- m=l+G+1

bol index i by making the change of variable l = k+i(N +G), and IBI power from the previous OFDM symbol at the lth

with k = −G, . . . , N − 1 and i = −∞, . . . , +∞ so that (1) OFDM sample is

becomes

c −1

L

(i)

s (kT ) = s(kT + i(N + G)T ) = (3) E{|IBIprevious (l)|2 } = |hm |2 = (7)

N −1

1

m=l+G+1

j2πnk

√ ai,n e N . c −1

L

N n=0 = |hm |2 u(m − l − G − 1)

We assume that the signal is transmitted over a frequency m=0

2

selective fading channel. For the sake of simpler presentation, where E{|s(v)| } = 1 and u(d) = 1 if d ≥ 0 and 0 otherwise.

we assume that the channel is time-invariant and the delays The total IBI power from the previous OFDM symbol for a

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3242 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS, VOL. 8, NO. 6, JUNE 2009

Interference from

the next OFDM symbol

|h(q)|2 |h(q+G)|2 Interference from [16]. From (6)-(11), we observe that for both short and long

the previous OFDM symbol

delay spread channels, inappropriate synchronization leads to

IBI. The IBI not only increases the error floor due to the

… interference from the previous and next OFDM symbols, but

|h(m)|2

also distorts the circulant behavior of the received signal. Thus,

window of (G+1) the orthogonality of the sub-carriers is also lost leading ICI

No interference that further increases the error floor. Note that the ICI power

spread over the frequencies is the same as the IBI power.

Based on the above observations, synchronization algorithms

Fig. 3. Equivalent windowing operation done by synchronization should avoid or limit the amount of IBI power. Therefore, with

PIBI of (10), we define the fine time synchronization as

t0,fine = arg min PIBI (q). (12)

DFT window of [r(q), r(q + 1), ..., r(q + N − 1)] is q

−1

q+N Minimizing the IBI is equivalent to maximizing the signal to

PIBIprevious (q) = E{|IBIprevious (l)|2 } = (8) interference plus noise ratio (SINR) since the selected window

l=q size N Lc . With Ps and Pη the signal and noise power

c −1

L −1

q+N respectively, the SINR as a function of the synchronization

2 point t0 reads as

= |hm | u(m − l − G − 1)

m=0 l=q Ps

c −1

L SINR(t0 ) = . (13)

2 Pη + PIBI (t0 )

= |hm | max(0, m − q − G),

m=0

q = −N − G, . . . , Lc − G − 1.

III. F INE T IME S YNCHRONIZATION

Another formulation of the IBI from the previous OFDM

symbol can be obtained by counting the number of OFDM In the previous section, we investigated the effect of

samples from the previous OFDM symbol for each multipath synchronization errors on the OFDM symbol reception. We

channel factor, i.e, m−q−G for hm , as in Fig. 2, and summing observe that incorrect synchronization leads to IBI and ICI that

up the total energy of the contribution of each multipath factor cause performance degradation. In this section, we propose

in the IBI. A similar analysis can be done for computing a fine time synchronization algorithm that aims at finding

the total IBI power from the next OFDM symbol for a DFT t0,fine of (12). The basic principle of the proposed fine time

window of [r(q), r(q + 1), ..., r(q + N − 1)] or just counting synchronization is using the frequency domain SP in a time

the number of OFDM samples from the next OFDM symbol domain correlation. The SP are commonly used for channel

with hn multipath channel gain, i.e., q − n as it can be seen in estimation in OFDM systems and they are widely used in the

Fig. 2. The resulting IBI power from the next OFDM symbol broadcast standards, e.g., DVB-T/H. In these standards, each

is OFDM symbol consists of N sub-carriers modulated with two

c −1

L disjoint sets, i.e., for ith OFDM symbol, the actual data sub-

PIBInext (q) = max(0, q − m)|hm |2 , (9) carrier set, Di , and the SP sub-carrier set Pi used for channel

m=0 estimation and synchronization. Then, the transmitted OFDM

q = 0, . . . , N + Lc − 1. symbol is, cf. (3),

When channels with Lc ≥ G are considered, there is no IBI s(l) = s(i) (k) = d(i) (k) + p(i) (k) = d(l) + p(l),

free window for the DFT. There will be IBI from both the k = −G, ..., N − 1, i = −∞, . . . , +∞,

previous and the next OFDM symbols and total IBI power

l = k + i(N + G) = −∞, . . . , +∞. (14)

can be expressed as

c −1

L with

PIBI (q) = |hm |2 f (m − q), (10) 1 j2πnk

d(i) (k) = √ ai,n e N , (15)

m=0 N n∈Di

where ⎧ 1 j2πnk

⎨ 0, n ∈ [0, G], p(i) (k) = √ ai,n e N .

f (n) = n − G, n > G, (11) N n∈Pi

⎩

−n, n < 0. Thus, the SP in frequency domain is a known sequence

We observe that synchronization is equivalent to a windowing superimposed on the data signal in the time domain. We

operation on the CIR h(m) of (4) where only a part of the then define the correlation between the overall superimposed

length (G + 1) of the CIR does not create any IBI. The sequence p(i) (k), k = −G, ..., N − 1, i = −∞, . . . , +∞ and

multipaths outside this window create IBI. As shown in Fig. 3 the superimposed sequence of the OFDM symbol i0 as

when a DFT window of [r(q), r(q + 1), ..., r(q + N − 1)] is +G−1

1

x+N

chosen, h(q), h(q + 1), ...h(q + G) does not create any IBI. R(i0 ) (x) = p(l)p∗(i0 ) (l − x − G), (16)

A similar analysis of the IBI power has been presented in N +G

l=x

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FILIPPI and SERBETLI: OFDM SYMBOL SYNCHRONIZATION USING FREQUENCY DOMAIN PILOTS IN TIME DOMAIN 3243

with x = −∞, . . . , +∞. The properties of R(i0 ) (x) depend on 1) Coarse timing. Conventional coarse timing synchro-

the SP in frequency which are usually not designed to be used nization algorithms based on guard interval detection

in time domain. We assume in the following that the pilots in are used to derive an initial reference point and to

every OFDM symbol are separated by Np sub-carriers and estimate/correct the frequency synchronization error [7].

that their position is shifted by Ni sub-carriers every OFDM Within a randomly selected window of two OFDM

symbol (see Fig. 1 where Np = 12 and Ni = 3). Then, we symbols, the algorithm looks for the location for which

can assume that R(i0 ) (x) ≈ Kδ(x − mN/Np )δ(i − i0 ) with the correlation between the samples with a relative delay

K a proper constant and m an integer. In the Appendix, we of N is maximum. The algorithms calculates the metric

justify this approximation and show that it is mainly due to [7]

the properties of the pseudo random bit sequence which is

G−1

used to modulate the pilot sub-carriers [4]. With (3), (14) and λ(m ) = r(k + m )r∗ (k + m + N )

(15), the received signal can be expressed as k=0

c −1

L c −1

L m = 0, . . . , N + G − 1, (22)

r(l) = hm d(l − m) + hm p(l − m) + η(l). (17)

it estimates the energy of the received signal as

m=0 m=0

1

G−1

When we correlate the received signal with the known SP

sequence of p(i0 ) (k) of (15), we obtain Er (m ) = (|r(k + m )|2 + (23)

2

k=0

+G−1

1

x+N

+|r(k + m + N )|2 ),

c(x) = r(l)p∗(i0 ) (l − x − G)

N +G

l=x

m = 0, . . . , N + G − 1,

c −1

L

and selects the coarse timing

= hm R(i0 ) (x − m) + I(x) + η̃(x), (18)

m=0 t0,coarse = arg max

[|λ(m )| − Er (m )]. (24)

m

(i0 )

where R (x) is the autocorrelation function of (16) and Thus, we obtain a coarse estimate of where the OFDM

c −1

L symbol starts. Moreover, the phase of (22) also provides

1

I(x) = hm · (19) a frequency offset estimation [7] which needs to be

N +G m=0 corrected before correlating the received signal with a

x+N +G−1 known sequence.

(i)

d (l − m)p(i0 )∗ (l − x − G) 2) Time domain correlation. The correlation c(x) of

l=x (18) is calculated to derive a rough estimate of the

is the interference from the data part of the transmitted signal. channel impulse response h(m) of (4). Since the coarse

The interference term I(x) is not expected to significantly timing t0,coarse of (24) is within the support of the

impact the channel estimation quality. This can be inferred by channel impulse response h(m), the correlation c(x)

considering its second moment, i.e. is calculated around t0,coarse . The exact span of c(x)

1 depends on the expected maximum length of the channel

E |I(x)|2 = (20) impulse response, i.e. on the guard interval.

(N + G)2

l m l m 3) Metric calculation. The metric PIBI (q) of (10) is

E hm d(i) (l − m)p(i0 )∗ (l − x − G) calculated using the rough channel estimation obtained

in step 2.

h∗m d(i)∗ (l − m )p(i0 ) (l − x − G) . 4) Fine synchronization. The fine time synchronization

t0,fine of (12) is founded as the minimum of the metric

Under the assumption of uncorrelated channel coefficients, of step 3.

uncorrelated data symbols, and zero correlation between data

and channel coefficient, we can substitute E {hm h∗m } =

σh2 m δ(m−m ) and E {d(l − m)d∗ (l − m )} = σd2 δ(m−m +

l − l ) and write (20) as

Ep Eh σd2

E |I(x)|2 = , (21)

N +G

So far, the description of the algorithm is very general. The

2 2

where Ep , Eh = m σhm and σd are the energy of the algorithm can be applied to any OFDM system which uses

pilot sequence in time, the energy of the channel impulse frequency domain pilots for channel estimation. However, the

response and the variance of the data, respectively. The factor pilots are usually designed to be used in the frequency domain

1/(N + G) reduces the influence of the interference. By using and their properties in the time domain might not be as

the approximation R(i0 ) (x) ≈ Kδ(x − mN/Np )δ(i − i0 ), see desired. Therefore, when designing the proposed algorithm for

the Appendix, c(x) of (18) provides a rough channel estima- a specific OFDM based system, some specific solutions might

tion prior to the receiver DFT. We now have all the elements be required to ensure that the algorithm performs properly. In

to describe the general idea of the proposed algorithm. The the following, we develop two possible approaches suitable

proposed fine synchronization algorithm consists of four steps. for the DVB-T/H standard.

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3244 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS, VOL. 8, NO. 6, JUNE 2009

DVB-T/H S TANDARD

0.14

A. The DVB-T/H standard

The DVB-T/H standard [4] defines the physical layer to 0.12

0.1

terrestrial radio channel. The handheld version (DVB-H) adds

only minor changes to the DVB-T physical layer to deal with

AC2

0.08

0.06

modulation with 2k, 4k or 8k sub-carries and guard interval

options from 1/32 of the OFDM symbol duration up to 1/4 0.04

of the OFDM symbol duration. DVB-T/H supports the use of

0.02

SFN in which multiple transmitters synchronously transmit the

same signal in the same frequency. In the presence of an SFN, 0

0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4

the receiver experiences long artificially created channels. SFN OFDM symbols (index)

channels create significant challenges for the time synchro-

nization because conventional time synchronization algorithms Fig. 4. Correlation of four consecutive DVB-T transmit OFDM symbols

tend to synchronize with respect to the strongest path of containing only pilots with the SP transmitted in the second OFDM symbol.

the channel impulse response. In the presence of SFN, the

strongest path might not be the first path to arrive. Therefore,

for DVB-T/H it is crucial to have a fine time synchronization • Selecting the received SP. The SP sequence depends on

algorithm which takes care of properly synchronizing the the index of the received OFDM symbol. Therefore, it

DFT window. The most common approach consists of using is necessary to detect the SP sequence. We propose to

the frequency domain channel estimation to refine the DFT correlate with all four possible SP in the time domain

positioning [17]. With the proposed algorithm, we can achieve and select the SP sequence which provides the largest

a fine time synchronization prior to the receiver DFT by correlation maximum. The correlation can be evaluated

exploiting the DVB-T/H SP inserted in the frequency domain only around t0,coarse to avoid waste of resources. After

as proposed in the following two approaches. deciding which SP sequence is used, we correlate the

received OFDM symbol with the known SP sequence

B. Short guard intervals to obtain c(x) of (18). This approach also provides an

alternative way to synchronize with respect to the SP

Let us consider the case on which the guard interval G sequence prior to the receiver DFT as shown in [18].

is shorter than 1/12 of the OFDM symbol duration, e.g. G • Solving the ambiguity problem. Since the SP sequence is

is 1/16 or 1/32 of the OFDM symbol duration. The SP in periodic with period N/Np , see Fig. 4, we should decide

DVB-T/H standard are spaced apart of Np = 12 sub-carriers, which taps are from the actual CIR and which ones are

change depending on the OFDM symbol index, see Fig. 1, and from the periodicity of the SP sequence. To solve this

have a period of four OFDM symbols. The performance of the ambiguity we use a window of length N/Np to detect

proposed algorithm depends on the time domain correlation the maximum energy window.

R(i) (x) of (16) of the frequency domain SP. Actually, DVB-

T/H standards define both SP and continuous pilot (CP) in the Once the ambiguity problem is solved a rough estimate ĥ(m)

frequency domain. Therefore, the proposed algorithm might of the channel impulse response is available and can be used

try to correlate the received time domain signal with the time to complete the last steps of the algorithm. The time domain

domain version of the SP and the CP or only of the SP, periodicity of the autocorrelation function limits the scope of

treating the remaining CP as noise. In Fig. 4 we plot |c(x)| of the possible channel impulse responses. Indeed, if the channel

(18) assuming an ideal channel hm = δ(m) with no noise is longer than N/Np , the rough channel estimation would be

and the transmission of four consecutive OFDM symbols. affected by aliasing. Therefore, the proposed algorithm for

We considered two possible choices of p(1) (k). In the first this specific case works only when the channel is shorter than

case p(1) (k) is the time domain representation of the SP and N/Np samples.

the CP of the second OFDM symbol. In the second case,

p(1) (k) is the time domain representation of only the SP of

C. Long guard intervals

the second OFDM symbol. We choose this later case, depicted

in Fig. 4, which appeared to be less noisy around the main Since DVB-T/H is designed to deal with long channels the

peak. We notice that the periodicity of the correlation function proposed fine synchronization algorithm should be able to deal

R(1) (x) is N/Np . As expected, the correlation sequence has with the longest channel, too. The longest guard interval is as

good properties, i.e., the correlation between the time shifted long as N/4 and, for the time being, we assume it corresponds

versions of the sequence is very low and the correlation to the maximum length of the channel impulse response. The

between different time domain SP sequences is low too. The SP in frequency domain are usually interpolated in time to

proposed algorithm described in Section III can be applied to obtain a denser pilot grid in frequency. We propose to do

this specific scenario. We only need to revisit step 2 defining something similar in the time domain. By summing up four

the following intermediate steps consecutive OFDM symbols in the time domain we obtain a

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FILIPPI and SERBETLI: OFDM SYMBOL SYNCHRONIZATION USING FREQUENCY DOMAIN PILOTS IN TIME DOMAIN 3245

0.7

that t0,fine of (12) is not unique. Therefore, we could improve

the selection of t0,fine by smoothing the metric PIBI (q) of

0.6 (10). The resulting t0,fine is less sensitive to the noisy estimate

of the channel impulse response, but it is also less precise

0.5 in the case the minimum value of PIBI (q) is given by few

choices of q. We will see in the simulation results how such a

0.4

small modification has significant influence on the algorithm

AC2

0.3

performance. The proposed algorithm is now able to deal

with very long channels by exploiting in the time domain

0.2 the structure of the pilot inserted in the frequency domain.

At least 16 OFDM symbols are required to obtain reasonable

0.1 performance. In a typical DVB-T setting with 8k sub-carriers,

this corresponds to a window duration of approximately 18ms.

0

0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5

OFDM symbols (index)

V. N UMERICAL R ESULTS

4

x 10

A. General

symbols containing only pilots with all the SP transmitted. We verify the performance of the proposed algorithm

through simulations. We assume an SFN channel made of

two independent typical urban, six paths channels (TU6) as

superimposed pilot sequence defined in the European project COST [19]. The two TU6

3

channels have the same energy. The separation of the two

p̃(k) = p(i ) (k) (25) TU6 channels changes depending on the simulation setting.

i =0 The transmitter and receiver follow the DVB-T standard with

made of all the SP inserted in the frequency domain. As the OFDM symbol duration TOFDM = 1.12ms, the useful

done in Fig. 4, we show in Fig. 5 the properties of the symbol duration Tu = 896μs and the guard interval duration

autocorrelation function of p̃(k) in absence of data and in TG = 224μs. The number of sub-carriers is N = 8192.

the presence of an ideal channel. Also in this case, treating The simulations assume a 16-QAM bit-mapper and a DVB-

the CP as noise seems to bring an advantage in the noise floor T convolution code with coding rate r = 2/3. To test the

level. Therefore, the known sequence used at the receiver does performance of the synchronization algorithm, we generate

not take into account the presence of the CP. The proposed a DVB-T signal, convolve with the channel and then we

algorithm described in Section III needs to be refined also in randomly select a window as long as two OFDM symbols

this scenario. Step 2 now requires the following intermediate to search for the coarse timing synchronization. In most of

steps the cases the SNR, in terms of carrier-to-noise (C/N) ratio as

defined in the DVB-T standard, is set to 25 dB which is close

• Sum eight consecutive windows of 2(N + G) samples

to the operational point of DVB-T. We further assume that the

starting from the timing reference t0,coarse − G to obtain

equalization perfectly knows the channel. The channel is not

7

known by the synchronization algorithm.

ravg8 (k) = r(k + i(N + G)), (26)

i=0

B. Short guard intervals

k = t0,coarse − G, . . . , t0,coarse + 2N + G.

We consider the algorithm described in Subsection IV-B

We choose eight symbols instead of the minimum num- and evaluate its performance in terms of the SINR provided

ber of four to include some averaging of the data- by t0,fine . The SINR depends on the channel impulse response,

generated interference. We calculate the sum for k = cf. (10), which is assumed to be perfectly known in the

t0,coarse − G, . . . , t0,coarse + 2N + G to properly evaluate SINR formula used to evaluate the algorithm performance.

the correlation of (16) around t0,coarse . In Fig. 6, we depict the cumulative distribution function of

• Evaluate c(x) of (18) with ravg8 (k) in place of r(l) and the SINR of (13) provided by the ideal synchronization,

p̃(k) of (25) in place of p(i0 ) (k). the coarse synchronization and the proposed synchronization

• Solve the ambiguity problem. Since the SP sequence is algorithm. We assume a guard interval G = N/16 so that

denser, the period of the correlation function is N/3, there is no aliasing in the channel impulse response estimate.

see Fig. 5, but the ambiguity problem still exists. We The channel is an echo-TU6 channel with a relative delay

solve the ambiguity similarly to the case of short guard between the two TU6 channels uniformly distributed within

intervals, i.e. using a window of length N/3 to detect the the guard interval. We notice that, also in the case of ideal

maximum energy. time synchronization, there is a percentage of the channel

Once the ambiguity problem is solved a rough estimate ĥ(m) realizations which provides low SINR. This happens when the

of the channel impulse response is available and can be used to relative delay between the two TU6 channels is very close to

complete the last steps of the algorithm. We might also refine the guard interval length. In this case, the resulting channel is

the last step of the algorithm, i.e. the calculation of t0,fine longer than the guard interval and there is inevitable IBI. We

of (12). In the presence of a long guard interval it is likely also notice that the proposed algorithm performs very closely

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3246 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS, VOL. 8, NO. 6, JUNE 2009

1 1

ideal ideal

0.9 coarse 0.8 coarse

fine fine

0.6

0.8

0.4

cumulative ditribution function

0.7

0.2

0.6 0

−5 0 5 10 15 20 25

0.5 SINR (dB)

0.4 0.01

ideal

0.008 coarse

0.3

fine

0.006

0.2

0.004

0.1 0.002

0 0

−5 0 5 10 15 20 25 −5 0 5 10 15 20 25

SINR (dB) SINR (dB)

Fig. 6. Cumulative distribution function of the SINR provided by the Fig. 8. Cumulative distribution function of the SINR provided by the

proposed synchronization algorithm, by the ideal synchronization and by the proposed synchronization algorithm, by the ideal synchronization and by the

coarse time synchronization only. Short guard intervals case with the two TU6 coarse time synchronization only. Long guard intervals case with the two TU6

echoes with a random relative delay having a uniform distribution within the echoes with a relative delay as long as 90% of the guard interval. SNR=25

guard interval. SNR=25 dB, G = N/16. dB, G = N/4.

1

ideal very close to the SINR given by the ideal synchronization.

0.9 coarse

fine

OFDM systems are usually properly designed, i.e. the guard

0.8 interval is longer than the maximum delay spread. For this

reason we also consider the case of a fixed separation of

cumulative ditribution function

0.7

the two TU6 echoes equal to 90% of the guard interval.

0.6

This is a challenging scenario for the coarse synchroniza-

0.5 tion algorithm. The results are reported in Fig. 8, in a full

0.4 scale and with a zoom in the most interesting region. We

0.3

first notice that the ideal synchronization algorithm always

provides an SINR=SNR=25dB, i.e. there is always an IBI

0.2

free region available. The proposed synchronization algorithm

0.1

makes some mistakes. For instance, we notice that in 99% of

0

−5 0 5 10 15 20 25

the cases, the proposed algorithm provides an SINR> 20 dB

SINR (dB) and that only 0.01% of the times it provides an SINR< 15

dB. This seems a promising result. However, if we insert the

Fig. 7. Cumulative distribution function of the SINR provided by the proposed algorithm as a part of a full DVB-T/H simulation

proposed synchronization algorithm, by the ideal synchronization and by the chain, the results do not appear very promising. This is shown

coarse time synchronization only. Long guard intervals case with the two TU6

echoes with a random relative delay with a uniform distribution within the in Fig. 9 where the average BER is plotted versus the C/N.

guard interval. SNR=25 dB, G = N/4. We notice that there is almost no difference in terms of

uncoded BER, but, in the presence of coding, the proposed

synchronization algorithm shows an error floor. This is due to

to the ideal synchronization algorithm when the channel is the errors of the synchronization algorithm which limits the

shorter than the guard interval and also when the channel is average performance of the coded system. Since we think this

longer than the guard interval. scenario is the most extreme for the synchronization algorithm,

we propose to further improve the proposed algorithm by

C. Long guard intervals smoothing the estimated PIBI of (10). We select an averaging

filter as long as 5% of the guard interval and report the results

We consider the algorithm described in Subsection IV-C

in Fig. 10 in terms of the cumulative distribution function

and evaluate its performance in terms of the SINR provided by

of the SINR and of average coded BER. The presence of a

t0,fine . We make the same assumptions in the SINR calculation

smoothing filter significantly improves the performance of the

as in the case of short guard intervals. In Fig. 7, we depict the

synchronization algorithm. There will be an error floor due to

cumulative distribution function of the SINR of (13) provided

some rare error in the synchronization, but it is lower than the

by the proposed algorithm, the ideal synchronization algorithm

target BER of 2 × 10−4 as defined in the DVB-T standard.

and the coarse synchronization algorithm. The channel is an

echo-TU6 channel with the relative delay between the two

TU6 having a uniform distribution within the guard interval. VI. C ONCLUSIONS

Also in this case the algorithm shows its robustness also to The proposed algorithm uses channel estimation pilot to

channels longer than the guard interval providing an SINR provide a fine time synchronization in OFDM systems prior

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FILIPPI and SERBETLI: OFDM SYMBOL SYNCHRONIZATION USING FREQUENCY DOMAIN PILOTS IN TIME DOMAIN 3247

N −1

p(i) (k )p∗(i0 ) (k − k − G) +

0

10

ideal uncoded

fine uncoded k =k

−1 ideal coded

10

fine coded

k−1

p(i+1) (k )p∗(i0 ) (k − k + N ) .

−2

10 k =−G

Average BER

−3

The pilot sequence in time p(i) (k) is the IDFT of the pilot

10

sequence in frequency. We assume that the pilots have a

−4

structure similar to Fig. 1 with a separation of Np in each

10

OFDM symbol and a shift of Ni between two consecutive

sequences. The same pilot sequence is repeated after Np /Ni

−5

10

OFDM symbols. The pilot sequence in frequency are gen-

erated as √modulated pseudo random bit sequences (PRBS)

−6

10

0 5 10 15 20 (·) = ± A, with A a constant [4]. With this notation the

C/N pilot sequence in time is

N/Np −1

Fig. 9. Average BER versus C/N. Ideal channel estimation for equalization.

Uncoded and coded performance in the presence of ideal time synchronization p(i) (k ) = (Np n + Ni i)ej2πNp k n/N

and the proposed algorithm. Long guard intervals case with the two TU6 n=0

echoes with a relative delay as long as 90% of the guard interval. G = 1/4.

ej2πNi ik /N . (28)

The pilot sequence is periodic with period N/Np . We substi-

cumulative ditribution function

0.01

ideal

tute (28) in (27) and consider the first term (the second can be

0.008 fine worked out in a similar way). With some simple manipulation,

fine smooth

0.006 we obtain

0.004 −1

1

N

0.002 p(i) (k )p∗(i0 ) (k − k − G) = (29)

0

N +G

−5 0 5 10 15 20 25 k =k

SINR (dB) N −1

1

10

0

= ej2πNi ik /N e−j2πNi i(k −k−G)/N ·

ideal coded N +G

fine smooth coded k =k

Average BER

−2

10 N/Np −1 N/Np −1

−4 · (Np n + Ni i)(Np n + Ni i0 ) ·

10

n =0 n=0

10

−6

0 5 10 15 20

ej2πNp k n/N e−j2πNp (k −k−G)n /N .

C/N

The summations over n and n can be interpreted as an approx-

imation of the expected value of (Np n+Ni i)(Np n +Ni i0 ).

Fig. 10. Cumulative distribution function of the SINR provided by the

proposed synchronization algorithm, by the ideal synchronization and by the Based on the properties of the PRBS sequences and some

proposed synchronization algorithm with a smoothing filter. Average coded further manipulation, we can write

BER in the presence of ideal time synchronization and the proposed algorithm.

N/Np −1 N/Np −1

Long guard intervals case with the two TU6 echoes with a relative delay as

long as 90% of the guard interval. SNR=25 dB, G = N/4. (Np n + Ni i)(Np n + Ni i0 ) (30)

n =0 n=0

j2πNp k n/N

e · e−j2πNp (k −k−G)n /N ≈

to the receiver DFT. It offers an alternative and promising way N/Np −1

for robust fine timing synchronization. The proposed algorithm ≈ Aej2π(k+G)nNp /N δ(i − i0 ) ≈

has been further developed to match the DVB-T/H signal n=0

structure and, with the adoption of specific solutions, we were ∞

N N

able to achieve near-to-ideal performance. ≈ A δ(k + G − m )δ(i − i0 ).

m=−∞

Np Np

With (30), (29) simplifies to

A PPENDIX −1

1

N

p(i) (k )p∗(i0 ) (k − k − G) ≈ (31)

We want to justify the approximation R(i0 ) (x) ≈ Kδ(i − N +G

k =k

i0 )δ(x−mN/Np ), with K a constant. We change the variables N −1

x = k + i(N + G) and l = k + i(N + G), with k, k = A N j2πNi i0 (k+G)/N

≈ e ·

−G, . . . N − 1, split the sum in (16) in two terms, and write N + G Np

k =k

(16) as ∞

N

1 δ(k + G − m )δ(i − i0 )

R(i0 ,i) (k) = (27) m=−∞

Np

N +G

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3248 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS, VOL. 8, NO. 6, JUNE 2009

AN (N − k) j2πNi i0 (k+G)/N [12] Göran Malmgren, “Single frequency broadcasting networks," Ph.D.

≈ e ·

(N + G)Np Thesis, School of Electrical Engineering, Royal Institute of Technology

∞

(KTH), Stockholm, 1997.

N [13] X. Wang, Y. Wu, B. Caron, B. Ledoux, and S. Lafleche, “A channel

δ(k + G − m )δ(i − i0 ). characterization technique using frequency-domain pilot time-domain

N p

m=−∞ correlation method for DVB-T systems," in Proc. IEEE International

Conf. Consumer Electronics (ICCE), 2003, June 2003, pp. 294-295

A similar derivation can be done for the second term of (2). [14] X. Wang, Y. Wu;J.-Y. Chouinard, S. Lu, and B. Caron, “A channel

Therefore, the approximation R(i0 ) (x) ≈ Kδ(i − i0 )δ(x − characterization technique using frequency domain pilot time domain

mN/Np ) is valid due to the nature of the PRBS sequence correlation method for DVB-T systems," IEEE Trans. Consumer Elec-

tron., vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 949-957, Nov. 2003.

used to modulate the pilot sub-carriers. [15] S. Lu, A. Semmar, X. Wang, Y. Wu, J. Y. Chouinard, and P. Fortier,

“Implementation and field test of a new channel estimation technique

for DVB-T system," in Proc. Canadian Conf. Electrical Computer

R EFERENCES Engineering, 2004, vol. 3, May 2004, pp. 1343-1346

[16] S. Celebi, “Interblock interference (IBI) and time of reference (TOR)

[1] B. Le Floch, M. Alard, and C. Berrou, “Coded orthogonal frequency computation in OFDM systems," IEEE Trans. Commun., vol. 49, no. 4.,

division multiplex," Proc. IEEE, vol. 83, no. 6, pp. 587-592, June 1986. pp. 1895-1900, Nov. 2001

[17] M. Speth, S. Fechtel, G. Fock, and H. Meyr, “Optimum receiver design

[2] “Part 11: wireless LAN medium access control (mac) and phys-

for OFDM-based broadband transmission—part II: a case study," in

ical layer (PHY) specifications - high-speed physical layer in

the 5 GHz band," IEEE Std. 802.11a-1999. [Online]. Available: IEEE Trans. Commun., vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 571-578, Apr. 2001.

http://standards.ieee.org/getieee802 [18] X. Wang, Y. Wu, K. Yi, B. Tian, and J. Chouinard, “A fast synchro-

nization technique for DVB-H receiver using in-band pilots and cyclic

[3] 3rd Generation Partnership Project, “Technical specification group radio

prefix," in Proc. International Conf. Consumer Electronics (ICCE), Las

access network; evolved universal terrestrial radio access (E-UTRA);

Vegas, USA, Jan. 2006, no. 9.2-1.

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[19] COST 207: Digital land mobile radio communications, European Project

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final report EUR 12160, 1998.

[4] “Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB); framing structure, channel coding

and modulation for digital terrestrial television," Jan. 2001, ETSI EN Alessio Filippi graduated in telecommunication en-

300 744. gineering in 2002 from the University of Padova,

[5] “Frame structure channel coding and modulation for a second Italy. From 2001 to 2004 he was with Siemens in

generation digital terrestrial television broadcasting system Munich, Germany. While in Siemens, he pursued his

(DVB-T2)," June 2008, Blue-Book, [Online]. Available: PhD at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern

http://www.dvb.org/technology/dvbt2/a122.tm3980r5.DVB-T2.pdf under the supervision of professor P.W. Baier. In

[6] T. Keller, L. Piazzo, P. Mandarini, and L. Hanzo, “Orthogonal frequency 2005, he joined Philips Research in the Netherlands

division multiplexing synchronization techniques for frequency-selective and obtained the doctoral degree. His research inter-

fading channels," IEEE J. Select. Areas Commun., vol. 19, no. 6, ests are on modulation and demodulation techniques

pp. 999-1008, June 2001. for wireless communications with focus on synchro-

[7] J. J. van de Beek, M. Sandell, and P. O. Börjesson, “ML estimation nization and channel estimation algorithms for multi

of time and frequency offset in OFDM systems," IEEE Trans. Signal carrier systems.

Processing, vol. 45, no. 7, pp. 1800-1805, July 1997.

[8] T. M. Schmidl and D. C. Cox, “Robust frequency and timing synchro- Semih Serbetli received the B.S. degree in electrical

nization for OFDM," IEEE Trans. Commun., vol. 45, no. 12, pp. 1613- and electronics engineering from Boğaziçi Univer-

1621, Dec. 1997. sity, Istanbul, Turkey, in 2000, and the Ph.D. degree

[9] D. Lee and K. Cheun, “Coarse symbol synchronization algorithms for in electrical engineering from the Pennsylvania State

OFDM systems in multipath channels," IEEE Commun. Lett., vol. 6, University in 2005. His Ph.D. studies focused on

no. 10, pp. 446-448, Oct. 2002. transceiver design problems for multiuser multiple

[10] K. Ramasubramanian and K. Baum, “An OFDM timing recovery scheme antenna systems. He is currently with NXP Semi-

with inherent delay-spread estimation," in Proc. IEEE GLOBECOM’01. conductors, Eindhoven, The Netherlands. His re-

vol. 5, pp. 3111-3115, Nov. 2001. search interests include transceiver optimization for

[11] H. Minn, V. K. Bhargava, and K. B. Letaief, “A robust timing and wireless communication systems with an emphasis

frequency synchronization for OFDM systems,” IEEE Trans. Wireless on multicarrier communications, multiple-antenna

Commun., vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 822–839, July 2003. systems and cooperative communications.

Authorized licensed use limited to: VELLORE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY. Downloaded on July 28, 2009 at 06:30 from IEEE Xplore. Restrictions apply.

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