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Vol. 9, No. 9, September 2011
A New Efficient Symbol Timing Synchronization
Scheme for MBOFDM UWB Systems
Reza Shahbazian
Department of Electrical Engineering
Iran University of Science and Technology
Tehran, Iran
Shahbazian@elec.iust.ac.ir
Bahman Abolhassani
Department of Electrical Engineering
Iran University of Science and Technology
Tehran, Iran
Abolhassani@iust.ac.ir
Abstract— Conventional symbol timing synchronization
algorithms show improper performance in low SNR values. In
this paper a new low complexity and efficient symbol timing
synchronization (ESTS) algorithm is proposed for MBOFDM
UWB systems. The proposed algorithm locates the start of Fast
Fourier Transform (FFT) window during packet/frame
synchronization (PS/FS) sequences of the received signal. First, a
cross correlation based function is defined to determine the time
instant of the useful and successfully detected OFDM symbol.
The threshold value in detection of the OFDM symbol is
predetermined by considering the tradeoff between the
probability of false alarming and missed detection. The exact
boundary of the FFT window for each OFDM symbol is
estimated by a maximum likelihood metric and choosing the
argument of the peak value. Verifying the estimated timing offset
is the last step to locate the start of the FFT window. The
proposed algorithm shows great improvement in the MSE,
synchronization probability and bit error rate metrics compared
with those of earlier works.
Keywords MBOFDM, Synchronization, Ultra Wide Band,
Fast Fourier Transform, Maximum Likelihood.
I. INTRODUCTION (HEADING 1)
UltraWideband (UWB) technology is the main candidate
for short distance (<10 m) and high data rate (53480 Mbps)
communications in Wireless Personal Area Networks
(WPAN). Multi band orthogonal frequency division
multiplexing (MBOFDM) based communication scheme is the
most noteworthy, among the several proposals for efficient use
of the 7.5 GHz bandwidth allocated for UWB technology.
MBOFDM is the combination of OFDM modulation and
data transmission using frequencyhopping techniques. In this
method, all the available bandwidth (3.110.6 GHz) is divided
into 14 frequency bands each with 528 MHz of bandwidth.
These 14 frequency bands are categorized in five groups. Each
of the first four groups has three frequency bands and the fifth
group contains only two frequency bands. Data is transmitted
over different frequency bands using a TimeFrequency code
(TFC), which causes frequency diversity and multiple access
capability [1].
OFDM systems have the advantage of being able to operate
as a set of N (number of subcarriers in the system) parallel
links over flat fading channels. However, the performance of
nonideal OFDM systems is degraded by imperfections caused
by timing offset, improper number of cyclic prefix (CP) and
frequency offsets. Among all the imperfections, effect of
timing offset on the system performance and bit error rate is
much more sever. Synchronization techniques for narrowband
OFDM systems utilize maximum correlation between the
received signal and training timing symbols [23]. All such
techniques assume that the first received multipath component
(MPC) is the strongest one. Therefore, in a channel with dense
multipath effects, a delayed stronger component, which is
shown in “Fig 1”, may cause erroneous timing synchronization,
which leads to Inter Symbol Interference (ISI), destroys the
orthogonality of OFDM subcarriers, and degrades the overall
performance [4].
Several algorithms are proposed for timing synchronization
in MBOFDM systems [59]. In [5], the proposed algorithm
(FTA) detects the significant path by comparing the difference
between two consecutive accumulated energy samples at the
receiver against a predetermined threshold. However, the
threshold is only determined by the probability of false alarm,
while other important error measures such as the missed
detection probability is not exploited. Further, the
computational complexity is high due to the large amount of
multiplications involved in the algorithm. In [6], a correlation
based symbol timing synchronization (CBTS) has also been
reported. The idea is similar to that of [5] and estimates the first
significant multipath of the received signal by comparing the
difference between two successive correlated MBOFDM
symbols against a predetermined threshold. Compared with
that of [5], the computational complexity is reduced and
performances in terms of both the mean square error (MSE) of
timing offset and the perfect synchronization probability are
improved. These two algorithms [56] cannot operate properly
at low SNR values due to imperfections in autocorrelation
property of the base sequence and the dense multipath channel
environments. Combination of the autocorrelation function and
restricted and normalized differential crosscorrelation (RNDC)
with a thresholdbased detection is used in [7] to find the
timing offset of the OFDM symbol. In [8], the proposed
algorithm utilizes a maximum likelihood function to estimate
the timing offset. Concentration of the algorithm in [8] is on
frequency diversity. Moreover its computational complexity is
rather high. In this paper, a modified and Efficient Symbol
Timing Synchronization (ESTS) algorithm for MBOFDM
23 http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/
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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
Vol. 9, No. 9, September 2011
UWB systems is proposed, while utilizes time domain
sequences (TDS) to estimate the timing offset. The
computational complexity of the proposed algorithm is reduced
by simplification in correlation based and maximum likelihood
functions. The organization of this paper is as follows: in
Section II, we present the MBOFDM system, signal model
and characteristics of an UWB channel. In Section III, we
describe the proposed algorithm for MBOFDM timing
synchronization and Section IV shows simulation results of our
proposed algorithm and compares them with those reported in
[59]. Important concluding remarks are made in Section V.
Figure 1. Impulse response of an UWB channel [9]
II. MBOFDM SYSTEM MODEL
A. MBOFDM Signal Model
Synchronization in MBOFDM systems is dataaided [1].
In standard preamble structure, the first 21 packet
synchronization (PS) sequences are used for packet detection,
AGC stabilization, coarse timing and frequency
synchronization. The next 3 frame synchronization (FS)
sequences are meant for a fine timing and frequency
synchronization.
These sequences are followed by 6 channel estimation (CE)
sequences as shown in “Fig 2”. Depending on the time
frequency code, a particular preamble pattern is selected which
is shown in “Table 1”. For a given TFC the PS and FS
sequences have the same magnitude but opposite polarity. The
preamble structure for TFC 1 and 2 is shown in “Fig 2”. Delay
period is defined as the minimum number of symbol timing
difference in the same frequency band. As an illustration, the
delay period=3 for TFC 1 or 2, delay period=6 for TFC 3 or
TFC 4 patterns and delay period=1 for TFC 5.
Consider
,
( )
s n
S k as k
th
sample of n
th
transmitted OFDM
symbol, which is given by.
,
( ) ( ) ( ).
s n c b
S k S n S k = × (1)
In “(1)”, ( )
b
S k is the k
th
sample of the nth symbol [11].
( )
b
S k is a time domain base sequence that is chosen according
to the TFC employed and ( )
c
S n is the spreading sequence for
the nth symbol and 1, 2,..., k M = and 1, 2,..., n P = , which M is
the number of useful samples in one OFDM symbol and P is
the total number of transmitted symbols in
PS
,
FS
and
CE
sequences. MBOFDM symbols prepared by suffixing 32
null samples called zero padded (M
ZP
) and 5 null guard
samples called (M
g
) to FFT/IFFT output sequences of length M
which is considered to be 128 samples according to the frame
format [11]. The total length of M+M
zp
+M
g
samples of one
MBOFDM symbol is denoted by MT, which is equal to 165
samples.
Figure 2. Packet model for a MBOFDM system [1]
TABLE I. TFC PATTERN IN MBOFDM SYSTEMS [1]
TFC
Number
Preamble
Number
TFC
1 1 1 2 3 1 2 3
2 2 1 3 2 1 3 2
3 3 1 1 2 2 3 3
4 4 1 1 3 3 2 2
5 5 1 1 1 1 1 1
6 5 2 2 2 2 2 2
7 5 3 3 3 3 3 3
B. UWB Channel Model
IEEE802.15.3 channel modeling subcommittee has
specified 4 different channel models (CM1CM4) depending
on transmission distances based on a modified salehvalenzuela
(SV) model [10]. UWB channel model is a clusterbased
model, where individual ray shows independent fading
characteristics. An UWB channel not only shows frequency
dependence of instantaneous channel transfer functions, but
also the variations of averaged transfer function caused by
different attenuations of different frequency component of an
UWB signal [12].
Impulse response model of an UWB channel can be
represented as,
, , ,
0 0
( ) exp( ) ( ).
L K
k l k l l k l
l k
h t a j t T ¢ o t
= =
= ÷ ÷
¿¿
(2)
In “(2)”,
,
{ }
k l
a and
,
{ }
k l
¢ are tap weighting coefficients
and tap phases of the
th
k component in l
th
cluster respectively,
and ( ) h t represents small scale fading amplitude. Delay of
th
k MPC toward arrival time of l
th
cluster, { }
l
T , is shown with
,
{ }
k l
t . We denote   ( ) (0), (1),..., ( 1) t h h h L = ÷ h as the channel
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ISSN 19475500
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
Vol. 9, No. 9, September 2011
impulse response with L resolvable multipath components. We
also define ( ) n t as a zero mean additive white Gaussian noise
(AWGN) with variance
2
n
o . The received signal with timing
offset equal to u could be described as the following,
1
0
( ) ( ). ( ) ( ).
L
s
i
r k S k h i n k u
÷
=
= ÷ +
¿
(3)
III. PROPOSED ESTS ALGORITHM
The main objective in the symbol timing synchronization is
to find the timing offset of the received symbol. Our proposed
algorithm contains two steps, coarse and fine synchronization.
The aim in coarse synchronization is to determine the time
instant while a useful OFDM symbol has been successfully
detected. In fine synchronization, we use the gained boundary
in coarse synchronization to locate the exact starting point of
the FFT window. To do synchronization, we use modified
cross correlation based functions, which perform better than
auto correlation functions, in low SNR values. The cross
correlation function in general could be defined as,
1
0
*
( ) ( ). ( ).
M
b
k
P
F r k S k u u
÷
=
' = +
¿
(4)
In “(4)”, the operator ( )
*
. represents complex conjugate
transpose of the signal and
P
F indicates the crosscorrelation
function between the received signal and the base sequence.
The estimated and coarse boundary for timing offset could be
found by the following Maximum Likelihood metric,
( ) { }
2
2
argmax argmax ,
P
R
F
F
u u
u ¢ u
¦ ¹
'
¦ ¦
= =
´ `
¦ ¦
¹ )
(5)
Where we define
1
0
1
2 2
0
( )
1
( ) ( ) .
2
M
k
M
R b
k
F r k S k u u
÷
=
÷
=
= +
 
+

\ .
¿ ¿
(6)
Computational complexity in this method is high. As shown
in [13] we can use a simplified timing metric, which is a good
approximation of “(5)”, described as,
( ) Re( ( )) Im( ( )) .
F p p
F F ì u u u ' ' = + (7)
If the base sequence is characterized by a perfect
autocorrelation property, there is only one significant peak
located at the first received sample. However, by imperfect
autocorrelation property of the base sequence, as indicated in
[1], there exist some undesired peaks at the other sample
instants. By considering the AWGN and channel variations,
these undesired peaks may be amplified and their values are
comparable with that of the first peak corresponding to the
desired symbol boundary. So the crosscorrelation function may
trigger false alarm and the algorithms, which use these kinds of
functions [59] show poor system performances. In order to
reduce false alarm probability especially at low SNR values,
we modify the introduced metric in “(7)” as the following,
( ) Re( ( )) Im( ( )) .
p p
F F ì u u u = × (8)
The defined function performs well at all SNR values if it is
assumed that the packet is successfully detected and the OFDM
sequences are confirmed to be received. In practical scenarios
there exists a noise sequence at the start of every frame [14]
which makes us to do a kind of packet detection at the start of
timing synchronization algorithm but Computational
complexity is rather high and needs M multiplications just in
one crosscorrelation function. So, we reduce the complexity by
simplifying “(4)” as described below,
( )
1
0
( ) ( ).sgn . ( )
M
k
P b
F r k S k u u
÷
=
= +
¿
(9)
Define  
1
,1,..., 1
m
V m m M u u
+
= + + + ÷ as the time index that
contains the sign of ( 1)
th
m+ , M sample base sequence. Also,
define  
0
0,1,..., 1 V M = ÷ as the time index that contains the sign
of M sample base sequence. We use M instead of M
T
because
there is no useful information in M
ZP
and M
g
sequences, i.e.,
( ) 0
b T
S k M k M = < < . We assume that the channel and the noise
are uncorrelated. The cross correlation function at time instant
m k u + + is given by:
( ) ( )
1
0
.sgn ( )
M
b
k
E r m k S k u
÷
=
¦ ¹
+ +
´ `
¹ )
¿
(10)
This can be easily shown that by expanding “(10)” we can
drive the following formula,
( ) ( )
1 1
0 0
( ). ( ) .sgn ( ) .sgn ( ) . ( ) .
M m L
c b b b
k k
S n S m k S m k S k E h k
÷ ÷ ÷
= =
¦ ¹
+ +
´ `
¹ )
¿ ¿
(11)
In “(11)”, when 0 m = , a negative and positive peak of the
crosscorrelation is generated if ( ) 1
c
S n = ÷ and ( ) 1
c
S n = +
respectively. It means that when the time index that contains
the first M sample of the received signal is considered, the peak
value is generated. So, we use two sets of
0
V and
1
V for symbol
timing offset estimation.
As the timing offset decreases the value of ( ) ì u in “(8)”
increases. We define
N
S as the index of a received M sample
sequence and ( )
N
S e as the time instant of the first sample for
that sequence.
( ) ( ) ( ) { }
arg ,
N N
S S
e
e ì e ç = > (12)
where ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
Re Im
N p N p N
S F S F S ì e e e = × and
P
F is
defined in “(9)”. Parameter ç in “(12)” is the threshold which
is predetermined by considering the tradeoff between the
probability of false alarming and the probability of missed
detection. If the OFDM symbol is successfully detected the
value ( )
N
S e is used as a reference symbol boundary for fine
synchronization. Due to the modified SV channel model, the
first arriving path may not be the strongest one. As a result,
using only the conventional crosscorrelation function will
25 http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/
ISSN 19475500
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
Vol. 9, No. 9, September 2011
locate a delayed multipath component with stronger amplitude
as the reference one and hence will cause misdetection. To
correctly estimate the position of the first arriving path, we take
the moving average of ( ( ))
N
S ì e over a window of size L'
where most of the channel energy is concentrated. In other
words,
1
0
( ( ) ).
'
( ( ))
L
N
w
S w S
N
ì e ì e
÷ '
=
+ =
¿
(13)
To reduce the computational complexity the “(13)” could
be substituted by the following recursive equation as given
below,
' '
( ( ) 1) ( ( )) ( ( ) ) ( ( )).
N N N N
S S S L S ì e ì e ì e ì e ' + = + + ÷ (14)
In “(14)”, L' is considered as the maximum delay spread of
the multipath channel. The exact symbol boundary ( ( )
o
N
S e )
could be found by the following equation
{ }
' ' '
( ) argmax ( ( )), ( ( ) 1),..., ( ( ) 1) .
o
N N N N
S S S S M
e
e ì e ì e ì e = + + ÷
(15)
If the calculated value of ( )
o
N
S e in “(15)”, stands in the
range of added zero prefix (
ZP
M ), all the subcarriers would
experience the same phase shift that could be removed in the
receiver. And if the ( )
o
N
S e value stands out of this range, ISI
occurs and subcarriers try different phase shifts that degrade the
system performance. Since transmission channel varies in time,
timing offset of each symbol is different from the others.
Detailed flowchart of the proposed algorithm (ESTS) is shown
in “Fig 3”. When the estimated value stands in the ISI free zone
(sample index 1
ZP
M ÷ ), synchronization is done. If the
estimated value stands in the sample index ( 1)
ZP T
M M + ÷ ,
wrong synchronization is performed and the false alarm
probability (
F
P ) increases:
IV. EVALUATION
A. Simulation
In simulation of the proposed algorithm (ESTS), it is
assumed that there are no other imperfections except timing
offset. 100 realization of channel model CM1 (04 meter line of
sight and 5 nanosecond delay spread) and CM2 (04 meter non
line of sight and 8 nanosecond delay spread) are considered in
simulation. It is also assumed that the first pattern of time
frequency code (TFC1) is used in data transmission and
frequency synchronization is ideal. The performance of the
system is evaluated by the probability of synchronization
(
sync
P ), bit error rate (BER) and the MSE of timing offset as
defined below.
( ) ( )
ˆ
ˆ ˆ
sync
MSE P
u
u u u
¬
= ÷
¿
(16)
Where
( )
ˆ
sync
P u is the probability of synchronization at
ˆ
u
for the simulated channel realization and 1
F sync
P P + = .
1, ( ) 1
N N
S S e = =
( ( )) Re( ( ( ))) Im( ( ( )))
N P N P N
S F S F S ì e e e = ×
'
( ( )) ( ( )) ( ( ) 1) ... ( ( ) 1)
N N N N
S S S S L ì e ì e ì e ì e ' = + + + + + ÷
{ }
' ' '
( ) arg max ( ( )), ( ( ) 1), ..., ( ( )) 1
o
N N N N
S S S S M e ì e ì e ì e = + + ÷
( )
o
N
Symbol Boundary S e =
( )
?
o
N
S
in ISI
Free Zone
e
( )
1
0
( ( )) ( ( )).sgn ( )
M
N
k
P N b
F S r k S S k e e
÷
=
= +
¿
( ) ( ) { } arg
N
S
e
ì e ç >
( ( )) ( ( )) 1
N N
S S e e = +
Figure 3. Flowchart of Proposed ESTS algorithm
The threshold value which is used in coarse
synchronization is defined so we have low MSE and high
P
sync
. By simulation results, threshold value is considered
to be 24 dB and 23 dB for CM1 and CM2 respectively.
We also need to define the number of required cross
correlations to minimize the effect of delay spread in
multipath fading channels. For a given threshold at a
certain SNR, the MSE decreases while the P
sync
increases
when L' increases up to 15 and the performance measures
stay constant afterwards. So we consider the 15 L' = as the
number of required cross correlations. Simulation results
for the MSE and P
sync
metrics are shown in “Fig 4” and
“Fig 5” respectively. As shown in “Fig 4” in the MSE
metric, a great improvement is achieved in all SNR values
especially in low values both in CM1 and CM2 channel
model compared with those of the CBTS and FTA. “Fig 5”
indicates that in P
sync
metric and high SNR values, the
performance is the same as that of the CBTS algorithm in
CM1 channel. In low SNR values and both CM1 and CM2
channel models and high SNR values in CM1 channel
model, performance is improved compared with that of the
CBTS. In all SNR values and both channel models,
performance of the proposed algorithm is better than that
of the FTA.
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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
Vol. 9, No. 9, September 2011
In “Fig 6” and “Fig 7” the bit error rate of the proposed
algorithm is compared with those of, [67] in CM1 and
CM2 channel model, respectively.
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
SNR(dB)
M
S
E
FTACM1
FTACM2
CBTSCM1
CBTSCM2
ESTSCM1
ESTSCM2
Figure 4. Comparison of MSE for proposed algorithm (ESTS), FTA [6] and
CBTS [7] in CM1 and CM2 channel models.
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
SNR(dB)
P
s
y
n
c
FTACM1
FTACM2
CBTSCM1
CBTSCM2
ESTSCM1
ESTSCM2
Figure 5. Comparison of Psync for proposed algorithm (ESTS), FTA [6] and
CBTS [7] in CM1 and CM2 channel models.
6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
10
3
10
2
10
1
SNR(dB)
B
E
R
FTA  CM1
ESTS  CM1
CBTS  CM1
Figure 6. Comparison of BER for proposed algorithm (ESTS), FTA [6] and
CBTS [7] in CM1 channel model.
6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
10
3
10
2
10
1
SNR(dB)
B
E
R
CBTS  CM2
FTA  CM2
ESTS  CM2
Figure 7. Comparison of BER for proposed algorithm (ESTS), FTA [6] and
CBTS [7] in CM2 channel model.
B. Computational Complexity
To compare the computational complexity, we assume that
there are no only pure noise packets as considered in [6] and
[7]. So, we skip the coarse synchronization part (packet
detection). We also assume that the recursive “(14)” is used
instead of “(13)”. According to [6] and [7] the number of
multiplications in FTA, CBTS and proposed algorithm are
( ) ( ) 5 2 1 ,
T
M M u + × + ( ) ( ) 5 2 1
T
M M u + × ÷ and ( ) 1 M L M
'
× + ÷
respectively. The numbers of summations are also
( ) ( ) 5 2 2
T
M M u + × ÷ , ( ) ( ) 5 2
T
M M u + × and
( ) ( ) ( ) 1 1 1 M M L L
' '
÷ × + + + ÷ in the same order. As a numerical
result, by considering 128, 32
ZP
M M = = and
5, 165, 1 15
g T
M M and L u
'
= = = = , the number of multiplications
in the FTA, CBTS and proposed algorithm (ESTS) are 212282,
210630 and 18176, respectively, which show that the proposed
algorithm is less complex. In the same order, the numbers of
summations are equal to 209804, 211456 and 18302.
V. CONCLUSION
In this paper, a new efficient symbol timing
synchronization (ESTS) algorithm proposed for MBOFDM
UWB systems. In the proposed algorithm, was compared in
MSE, synchronization probability and bit error rate metrics
with those of [6] and [7]. Simulation results show a great
improvement while the computational complexity is reduced.
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27 http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/
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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,
Vol. 9, No. 9, September 2011
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