Tech Briefs

Multi-Modulator for Bandwidth-Efficient Communication

Coding and modulation can be selected by loading configuration bits into an FPGA.

A modulator circuit board has recently been developed to be used in conjunction with a vector modulator to generate any of a large number of modulations for bandwidth-efficient radio transmission of digital data signals at rates than can exceed 100 Mb/s. The modulations include quadrature phase-shift keying (QPSK), offset quadrature phase-shift keying (OQPSK), Gaussian minimum-shift keying (GMSK), and octonary phase-shift keying (8PSK) with square-root raised-cosine pulse shaping. The figure is a greatly simplified block diagram showing the relationship between the modulator board and the rest of the transmitter. The role of the modulator board is to encode the incoming data stream and to shape the resulting pulses, which are fed as inputs to the vector modulator. The combination of encoding and pulse shaping in a given application is chosen to maximize the bandwidth efficiency.

altThe modulator board includes gallium arsenide serial-to-parallel converters at its input end. A complementary metal oxide/semiconductor (CMOS) field-programmable gate array (FPGA) performs the coding and modulation computations and utilizes parallel processing in doing so. The results of the parallel computation are combined and converted to pulse waveforms by use of gallium arsenide parallel-to-serial converters integrated with digital-to-analog converters. Without changing the hardware, one can configure the modulator to produce any of the designed combinations of coding and modulation by loading the appropriate bit configuration file into the FPGA.