MIMO: The next revolution in wireless data communications
While providing a technical overview of MIMO and its different variants, and quantifying some of its benefits in relevant scenarios in military tactical communications, the article also identifies key capabilities that efficient MIMO development/evaluation platforms must offer. By Babak Daneshrad


In general, the matrix, A, of channel coefficients {aij} must be invertible for MIMO systems to live up to their promise. It has been proven that the likelihood for A to be invertible increases as the number of multipaths and reflections in the vicinity of the transmitter or receiver increases. The impact of this is that in a Rayleigh fading environment with spatial independence, there are essentially NM levels of diversity available and there are min(N,M) independent parallel channels that can be established. Increases in the diversity order results in significant reductions in the total transmit power for the same level of performance. On the other hand, an increase in the number of parallel channels translates into an increase in the achievable data rate within the same bandwidth. Let us now quantify the benefits of MIMO-based systems operating in a typical Rayliegh fading wireless r1(t) = a11x(t) + a12y(t) + a13z(t) channel. Figure 2 compares x(n) Modulator the achievable 95-percentile x(t) capacity (minimum capacity x(n) achieved over 95 percent of MIMO y(n) wireless channels encouny(n) Modulator receiver y(t) z(n) tered, or in other words, given a channel, there is a 95 percent chance that the capacity of r3(t) = a31x(t) + a32y(t) + a33z(t) z(n) Modulator that channel is higher than the z(t) capacity shown in the plot) for single antenna systems (yellow dot), for a phased Figure 1. MIMO transmission and reception in a dispersive environment. In a MIMO system, different information array multi-antenna system is transmitted simultaneously on each transmit antenna.

ulti-antenna based multi-input multioutput (MIMO) communications first burst onto the scene in the mid 1990s when researchers at Bell Labs and Stanford were looking for ways to increase system throughput without increasing bandwidth. In the decade since, thousands of research papers have been written on the topic dealing with both physical layer (PHY) and network layer ramifications of the technology. MIMO has gone through the adoption curve for commercial wireless systems to the point that today, all high throughput commercial standards (i.e., WiMax, Wi-Fi, cellular, etc.) have adopted MIMO as part of the optional, if not mandatory, portions of their standards. The adoption of MIMO into military wireless communications systems has to some extent lagged its adoption in the commercial arena. To date, the largest DoD-funded effort with a uniquely MIMO-centric focus is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Mobile Networked MIMO (MNM) program. This program is a multiyear, multimillion-dollar effort that looks to exploit MIMO techniques to (a) provide reliable communications in urban canyons; (b) significantly extend the reach of conventional single-antenna wireless systems; (c) improve reliability of individual links: and (d) enhance mobile ad-hoc network (MANET) throughput rate by 10x or more compared to current SISO-based radios. Lucent Technologies was the performer on

the first phase of the program, whereas Silvus Technologies was chosen as the performer on the second and third phases of the program. This article will provide a technical overview of MIMO and its different variants, as well as quantify some of its benefits in relevant scenarios in military tactical communications. Finally we will identify key capabilities that efficient MIMO development/evaluation platforms must offer to the marketplace. The pioneering work by Telatar, Foschini and Gans at Bell Labs demonstrated that MIMO in a wireless communication system can greatly improve performance, as much as one order of magnitude or more, without requiring any additional bandwidth. A MIMO wireless system consists of N transmit antennas and M receive antennas. However, unlike phased array systems where a single information stream, say x(t), is transmitted on all transmitters and then received at the receiver antennas, MIMO systems transmit different information streams, say x(t), y(t), z(t), on each transmit antenna. These are independent information streams being sent simultaneously and in the same frequency band. At first glance, one might say that the transmitted signals interfere with one another. In reality, however, the signal arriving at each receiver antenna will be a linear combination of the N transmitted signals.

Figure 1 shows a MIMO system with three transmit and three receive antennas. The received signals r1(t), r2(t), r3(t) at each of the three received antennas are a linear combination of x(t), y(t), z(t). The coefficients {aij} represent the channel weights corresponding to the attenuation seen between each transmit-receive antenna pair. The affect is that we have a system of three equations and three unknowns as shown below.

Introduction to MIMO

 x r = A  y     z

RF Design


F2-Figure 1
0408DE-F2.indd 7 3/20/2008 12:11:11 PM

50 antenna systems that can adap(blue curve), and for MIMO MIMO system tively beamform or beam-null in systems (red curve). As shown, 45 Number of Tx antenna = a particular direction. the capacity of the phased array Number of Rx antenna 40 system grows logarithmically with increasing antenna array Leveraging MIMO for 35 size, whereas the capacity of the the military Traditional 1x1 MIMO system grows linearly. The true benefit of MIMO is 30 SISO system does not improve with With four antennas, the phase not simply its ability to increase more antennas 25 array system provides a capacity throughput or reliability, rather, Smart antenna array of 8 bps/Hz, whereas the MIMO when properly married with number of transmit 20 system provides a capacity of 19 the other elements of the radio, antenna xed at 1 bps/Hz. It is also worth noting that MIMO enables a truly mode-rich 15 in a phased array system, the array radio--one that is ideal for opera10 coefficients must be calculated to tion in non-line-of-sight (NLOS) point the beam in the “best direcenvironments found in urban can5 tion.” This is quite difficult to do yons and forested regions. This 0 when the transmitter is inside allows a MIMO-enabled radio 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 the hull of an aircraft where the to exhibit elasticity beyond that Number of receive antennas signal undergoes many reflections of conventional single-antenna before it emerges from the aircraft Figure 2. MIMO capacity increases with array size, whereas phased arradios, and to better adapt to the and lands at the receiver. MIMO ray smart antenna systems only improve logarithmically. needs of the war fighter and the systems do not suffer from this operational environment. problem as the geometry of the environment bandwidth. The downside to SM is the Examples of use in military-grade comand position of the reflectors are automatineed for highly F2-Figurematrix inversion munications are: complex 2 cally taken into account during the decoding operations in the receiver, and the added • For communication centers (i.e., groundof the MIMO signal. sensitivity to impairments when the system based command posts, ship-to-shore or The benefits of MIMO will now be is driven into “full-multiplexing” (number ship-to-ship communication), a high considered in a different light. Assume that of spatial streams is equal to the number of throughput mode can be used to transfer there is a fixed capacity that is desired, say transmit antennas which in turn is equal to data at speeds greater than 100 Mbps. 1 bps/Hz, and ask the question, “How much the number of receive antennas) mode of • In a NLOS environment, the radio can use total transmit power is needed to achieve a operation. a physical mode, which lowers the data 95-percentile capacity of 1 bps/Hz?” The • Space-time coding (STC-MIMO). Spacerate to 10 Mbps in exchange for higher results are summarized in Table 1. As is seen time coding systems look to provide quality of service (QoS). A platoon of from the table, as the number of antennas coding gain by introducing redundancy tanks proceeding down separate streets in increase in a MIMO system, less and less along the three signaling axes defined as an urban environment can continue crossreceive power is needed to achieve the same time, frequency and space. They can also communications. data throughput rate. This is an important be used to provide transmit diversity gain. • In an environment where jammers are used finding as it is the key property that is relied Compared to spatial multiplexing systems, in an attempt to disrupt communication, a upon to combat the attenuation associated STC-MIMO systems provide robustness of mode sending redundant packets across with getting the signal out of the aircraft hull. communications without providing signifimultiple paths can be used to ensure that So if a conventional single antenna system cant throughput gains. Moreover, they are uncorrupted data reaches the receiver. required 1 Watt of transmit power to achieve well suited to asymmetric situations where Integrity and consistency saves lives and a certain throughput, then an 8 x 8 MIMO the transmitter may have more antennas at contributes to Mission Success. system would require only 6 mW of power its disposal than the receiver. • In a mobile environment (i.e., tanks or Humto achieve the same performance. • Diversity systems (DIV-MIMO). Diversity vees advancing across open terrain, surveilis a traditional form of multi-antenna prolance UAVs scouring an area of interest), yet cessing that looks to counteract fast fading another mode can be used to enable high data A multiplicity of MIMO modes effects by creating independent channels rates between fast-moving vehicles. The appeal of spatial multiplexing between the TX and RX, transmitting the • For covert applications, some solutions MIMO systems has captured many people’s same signal on all independent channels attention. This has been taken to the excan exploit MIMO modes to transmit at and optimally combining the received treme whereby spatial multiplexing MIMO a reduced rate while using an ultra low signals. schemes have been suggested to solve any transmit power mode to conceal its elecand all wireless communication issues. In • Smart antenna (SA-MIMO) systems are tronic signature. fact, there are four unique multi-antenna best described as adaptive phased array • For real-time video surveillance applicaMIMO techniques available to the system tions (i.e., border or perimeter monitoring, designer as follows: real-time battlefield monitoring), a high Antenna Configuration MIMO • Spatial multiplexing (SM-MIMO). Multhroughput, high QoS mode can be used. SISO (1x1) 12.8 dB tiple antennas are used to create spatially • For mesh networks, some solutions take 2x2 1.2 dB independent links along the eigen-modes advantage of all of the reflections (i.e., 4x4 –4.9 dB of the wireless channel. In SM systems, signals bouncing off hundreds of armored throughput is increased by sending differvehicles) to improve performance, as op8x8 –9.3 dB ent data on the different transmit antennas. posed to current single antenna systems, As such SM-MIMO can result in much Table 1. Receive SNR required to achieve a which cannot function in high-demand, improved throughput without increasing 95-percentile capacity of 1bps/Hz. high-interference environments. Capacity (bps/Hz)

95% outage capacity


April 2008

0408DE-F2.indd 8

3/20/2008 12:11:17 PM

Validating MIMO in the field


Today, suppliers must be API A able to provide complete radio modules comprised of CNTL to RF for AGC, Complete PHY CNTL an antenna, RF transceiver, calibrate, RF carrier via API a complete packet-based baseband processing engine, RF CNTL Digital and a robust and intuitive API (Figure 3). Such solutions, A/D like the SC2000 from Silvus FEC A/D Technologies, are ideal for encode D/A A/D A MIMO User networking applications, as D/A Encode/ A/D A the radio unit can be comdecode FEC Single channel A D/A manded by any medium acdecode Mod/Demod D/A cess control (MAC) protocol. The user (or user program) Silvus PHY Any RF can dictate radio parameters Fully con gurable universal 4 x 4 MIMO OFDM PHY on a per-packet basis. With 300+ operating modes to choose from, such platforms put per packet reconfigurability in the hands of the user. Figure 3. Manufacturers today need to offer complete radio modules and include every functional block inside the This richness of modes dotted boundary. The user can substitute a customized RF front end. can be realized through the manipulation of 10 individual parameters, time by 1, quickly validating concepts and 2, wanting to identify the most optimum mode each of which can take on a range of values. integrating a MIMO-based PHY/MAC onto of transmission within a given environment. Table 2 summarizes the 10 parameters and users’ application-specific physical realiza- The evaluation board would allow the user complete configurability and would allow tion of MIMO IP. their range of values. The baseline design delivered onto him or her to easily cycle through hundreds The platform approach has two FPGAs compliant (one for the MAC and another for the PHY) the tool is that of an 802.11nF2-Figure 3 of parameter configurations in order to idenalong with a PowerPC processor. Devel- PHY+MAC, however, this baseline design tify the most optimum set of link parameters opers can interface through a USB 2.0 or can be augmented to include interference for the situation at hand. The evaluation platform could be used Ethernet interface. The platform comes mitigation protocols, and variable bandwidth with a 4 x 4 PHY embedded in one of the capability. Additionally, FPGA-based video to validate the IP and to interface it to other FPGAs and can be populated with up to codecs could also be implemented on the elements within the customer’s SoC. When four radio boards. These solutions provide platform to enable wireless video distribu- put into the hands of researchers, the platincreased performance, cost effectiveness tion applications. The tool can also be used form is an ideal tool to enable validation and and overall efficiency in the development of during design to configure the end system, experimentation with advanced MAC and MIMO-based systems. A complete FPGA as the evaluation board could be used in networking protocols that look to leverage rapid-prototyping system supports hardware- an experimental framework to identify the OFDM and/or MIMO based communicain-the-loop co-simulation and real-time optimum mode to use in a given environ- tions. Within the military sector, the platform processing. In addition, it cuts development ment. As an example, let us consider a user could be used to validate and quantify the benefits of MIMO based communications Parameter Range as a function of mission requirements and environmental conditions. Bandwidth 5, 10, 20 MHz
Number of antennas Type of antenna processing 1x1, 1x2, … 2x4, …4x4 Spatial multiplexing, Space-time coding diversity Hybrid Tx diversity and spatial-multiplexing Rx diversity Eigen beamforming & beamnulling at Rx Smart antenna OFDM (64 point FFT) 2-, 4-, 16-, 64-QAM 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 5/6 Modified MMSE 1,2,4 0 dBm to 36 dBm 2 bytes to 64 kbytes

Babak Daneshrad is president and CEO of Silvus Technologies. He has been a professor with the UCLA Electrical Engineering Department since 1996. He is well published in the area of wireless communications, with an emphasis on experimental multi-antenna systems. In 2001, he co-founded Innovics Wireless where he served as the CEO, chairman, and later CTO. Innovics, a specialized fabless semiconductor company, raised $14 million in venture capital and developed the first multi-antenna, diversity-enabled WCDMA-3G mobile terminal ASIC.

Modulation Constellation size Coding rate Spatial multiplexing decoder Number of spatial streams Transmit power Packet size

Table 2. List of example PHY parameters under direct user control.

RF Design


0408DE-F2.indd 9

3/20/2008 12:11:27 PM

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful