An all-digital demodulator has been developed for receiving radio signals with multigigahertz carrier frequencies phase-modulated with digital data signals at bit rates of hundreds of millions of bits per second. The phase modulation could be either binary phase-shift keying (BPSK) or quadrature phase-shift keying (QPSK), including QPSK employing bandwidth efficient pulse-shaping methods. The demodulator has been implemented in complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) configured to utilize algorithms that process signal data in multiple parallel streams.

The APRX Architecture provides for most digital signal processing to be done in the frequency domain. Here, 'z^-1' denotes a digital sample delay, '↓16' signifies decimation by factor 16, hi denotes a complex time-varying matched detection bank that also performs the functions of low-pass digital filter and symbol timing recovery.
The advantages of all-digital processing over traditional analog processing include greatly increased flexibility and reliability with reduced reproduction costs. Serial digital signal processing would entail processing rates so high as to necessitate the use of non-CMOS (e.g., GaAsbased) circuitry, which costs more and is more power-hungry, relative to CMOS. What makes it possible to implement the present ASIC in CMOS is the parallelprocessing scheme, in which the number of parallel data streams is made large enough that the data rate in each stream is low enough to be within the capability of CMOS circuitry.

The present all-digital demodulator is characterized by an advanced parallel receiver (APRX) architecture (see figure), which replaces the receiver functions of the parallel receiver (PRX) architecture reported in “Parallel Digital Demodulators Using Multirate Filter Banks” (NPO-19620), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 20, No. 10 (October 1996), page 65. The APRX architecture is essentially one of time-varying frequency-domain detection filtering and symbol-timing correction.

Upstream of this demodulator, the received analog signal is converted to an intermediate frequency (IF) suitable for analog-to-digital (A/D) conversion, band-pass filtered, then digitized at a rate of 4 samples per symbol. The band-pass filtering rejects some noise and prevents the aliasing that would otherwise occur after A/D conversion. The digital signal is split into 32 parallel paths, decimated by 16 on each path, and digitally mixed on each path with a replica of the sampled IF carrier signal. The discrete Fourier transform (DFT) of the resulting 32 data points is then taken, via a specialized fast Fourier transform (SFFT), and multiplied by the one element of a bank of frequency-domain-matched filters. The correct matched filter is chosen by the closed-loop symbol timing recovery algorithm (see figure).

To suppress the double-frequency terms generated in mixing to baseband, low-pass filtering is performed, zeroing out the middle 16 components (which correspond to the high-frequency terms) in the frequency domain. Then the inverse discrete Fourier transform (IDFT) is computed, via the specialized inverse fast Fourier transform (SIFFT), and the middle 16 parallel outputs (which are unaliased and correspond to 4 symbol periods) are used for detection, tracking, and other purposes.

The foregoing process is repeated once every 16 cycles of the A/D-converter clock. The 16 points in the SIFFT output are 16 samples of a convolution of the input sequence with the matchedfilter impulse-response function. Among these 16 samples are 4 baseband symbols that correspond to the peak signal-tonoise- ratio outputs of the matched filter.

Theoretical analysis, computational simulations, laboratory tests, and live satellite downlinks have shown that the error-rate performance of the APRX demodulator can be expected to be equivalent, and in some cases superior, to that of a conventional serial-processing digital receiver. In comparison with the PRX architecture, the APRX architecture can be implemented with significantly reduced complexity. In comparison with traditional serial digital receivers, the APRX demodulator ASIC can process much higher data rates. The next generation implementation of the APRX ASIC is currently being developed to process higher order modulations and data rates in excess of 2 billion bits per second.

This work was done by Parminder Ghuman, Scott Hoy, and Gerald Grebowsky of Goddard Space Flight Center and Andrew Gray and Meera Srinivasan of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at  under the Electronic Components and Systems category. NPO-21230

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Parallel-Processing High-Rate Digital Demodulator ASIC

(reference NPO-21230) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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