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On the Capacity of Multicarrier Transmission

over Nonlinear Channels

Peter Zillmann and Gerhard P. Fettweis
Dresden University of Technology, Mommsenstrasse 13, 01062 Dresden, Germany
Abstract— This paper presents new results on the achiev- channel is linearized. From an information-theoretic
able capacity of multicarrier systems impaired by clipping viewpoint, however, this approach has the disadvantage
at the transmitter. A general framework for capacity of imposing restrictions on the receive algorithms, which
analysis of multicarrier systems with complex baseband
signals is derived, based on the mutual information of lead to pessimistic results for the achievable mutual
the transmitted and received signals. Specific results are information. The fact that the distortion noise signal
given for the soft limiter nonlinearity with different values is treated as AWGN, already implies that a ”dumb”
of the Input Power Backoff (IBO), and for the hard receiver is used, which does not have to be the case.
limiter nonlinearity. These capacity results are a true upper Therefore, the work in [3] and [4] is a worst case analy-
bound for multicarrier systems with a large number of
subcarriers and can be used for evaluation of receive sis and forms a lower bound on the mutual information.
algorithms for nonlinearly distorted multicarrier signals. It is also interesting to ask for the corresponding
It is shown that clipping results only in a small capacity upper bound. This paper is based on the following
loss even for low IBO. idea: The whole output of the nonlinearity is useful
Index Terms— OFDM, nonlinear distortion, channel ca- for transmission of information. A capacity analysis
pacity for multicarrier systems with clipping should therefore
simply focus on determining the mutual information
I. I NTRODUCTION between the transmitted and the received signals. In our
case, the transmitted signal is the multicarrier signal al-
The transmit signal in multicarrier data transmission
ready affected by nonlinear distortion. The basic method
systems is the superposition of many narrowband sig-
was first used by Shannon [5] for the computation of the
nals, which are modulated by different data streams.
capacity of the AWGN channel. It was also used in [6]
This results in an approximately Gaussian distribution
for multicarrier capacity computations with real-valued
of the I- and Q-components of the, in general, complex
signals. The extension to the complex-valued case is,
baseband signal because of the central limit theorem [1].
however, not straightforward and presents a number of
Consequently, multicarrier systems like OFDM require
additional challenges: In the context of clipped complex
transmit and receive signal processing blocks with a high
signals, it is generally a problem to determine the nec-
dynamic range, which are costly and inefficient. Even
essary Probability Density Functions (PDFs) and how
then, some nonlinear distortion is likely to occur.
the nonlinearity affects them. Numerical computation of
There has been active research on the performance
actual capacity values can be another problem.
degradation of OFDM systems impaired by nonlinear
The outline of the paper is as follows: The next section
distortion and Additive White Gaussian Noise (AWGN).
contains the system and channel model and describes
Often, the output of the nonlinearity is decomposed
essential signal properties. Section three presents the
into a ”useful” part and a ”distortion noise” part by
actual computation of the mutual information for clipped
means of the Bussgang theorem [2]. Then, conventional
complex Gaussian signals impaired by AWGN. Section
error rate and channel capacity analyses carry over from
four presents simulation results and comparisons with
the AWGN channel. Strictly speaking, it is not the
the known lower bound, while the last section contains
capacity which is evaluated, but the mutual information
between two signals at certain stages of the transmitter
and the receiver. The general assumption is that the II. S YSTEM AND C HANNEL M ODEL
distortion noise signal resulting from the Bussgang de-
Let x(t) be a complex normal, stationary random
composition can be treated as an additional AWGN term,
process with equal variance Px /2 for the real and the
which degrades the Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) of the
imaginary component. The process z(t) is formed by
multicarrier system. [3] and [4] are examples for this
z(t) = f [x(t)] , (1)
An analysis based on the Bussgang decomposition can
deliver valuable insights into the properties of nonlin- where f : C → C is a memoryless, complex valued
early distorted Gaussian signals, because the nonlinear mapping. The inverse mapping f −1 (·) may or may not
exist. The process z(t) is then further corrupted by of orthogonal transform at the receiver, the transform
complex, stationary AWGN n(t) to deliver of nd (t) will be approximately Gaussian because of the
central limit theorem.
y(t) = z(t) + n(t) = f [x(t)] + n(t) . (2) For capacity analyses, it is important to look at the
power budget of the Bussgang decomposition. It is easy
to show that
x (t ) z (t ) y (t )
f (⋅) + " Z∞ #∗
1 ∗
α= rx f (rx )pRx (rx ) drx , (6)
n (t ) Px
where the asterisk denotes the complex conjugate, and
Fig. 1. System Model for Nonlinear AWGN Channel
pRx (rx ) is the PDF of |x|. α describes the correlation
between x(t) and z(t), and the complex conjugate is
This system model is shown in figure 1. The model
only of interest when f (·) includes phase distortion. The
does not contain any OFDM-specific elements, but be-
power of z(t) can be computed similarly, and it is useful
cause of the near-Gaussian statistics of the baseband
to define a power scaling factor β, such that Pz = βPx .
time-domain OFDM signal, x(t) can be viewed as an
β can be computed from
OFDM transmit signal. f (·) represents the baseband
equivalent transfer characteristics of a nonlinear PA, and Z∞
n(t) is the receiver frontend noise. β= |f (r)|2 pRx (rx ) drx . (7)
The most common model for the nonlinearity f (·) is Px
the soft limiter with transfer characteristic
½ Since x(t) and nd (t) are uncorrelated, the power
|x| 0 ≤ |x| ≤ A budget reads
|z| = f (|x|) = (3)
A |x| > A
for each t, where A is the clip level of the device. Note Pz = βPx = |α|2 Px + Pnd , (8)
that f (·) affects only the magnitude of x(t). The soft and the distortion noise power
limiter models a situation where predistortion is used
¡ ¢
to linearize a memoryless nonlinearity. It is the residual Pnd = β − |α|2 Px . (9)
distortion curve, since predistortion can remove phase
distortion, but invert magnitude compression only as far For the soft limiter nonlinearity, α and β take on the
as the supply voltage rail allows. This is the main reason following values:
for using this model, another one is its simplicity. √
Other common models include the Rapp [7] and −IBO πIBO ¡√ ¢
α=1−e + erfc IBO , (10)
the Saleh [8] models, which feature a more gradual 2
transition from the linear region to the saturation region. and
Throughout this paper, the soft limiter will be used
for modelling the baseband equivalent nonlinearity. The β = 1 − e−IBO , (11)
framework for the analysis of mutual information can
where erfc(·) is the complementary error function.
be applied to other nonlinearities as well.
An important measure for the severeness of clipping III. S YSTEM C APACITY AND M UTUAL I NFORMATION
is the IBO of the nonlinear device, defined as
The key for capacity computation is to determine
A2 I(Yti ; Zti ), the mutual information between Yti = y(ti )
IBO = . (4)
Px and Zti = z(ti ). The time index ti is dropped from
Lower values of IBO result in more severe clipping, now on for convenience. z(t) is just the input of an
higher values result in less severe clipping. AWGN channel, but the PDF pZ (z) of Z is generally
For the purpose of comparison, the Bussgang decom- non-Gaussian and must be determined from pX (x) and
position shall be introduced as well. The theorem states f . The deviation of pZ (z) from the capacity-achieving
that, for stationary x(t), z(t) can be written as the sum Gaussian statistics of X is the reason for the degradation
of two uncorrelated components of I(Y ; X).
The mutual information between Y and Z can be
z(t) = αx(t) + nd (t) , (5) written as [9]
I(Y ; Z) = h(Y ) − h(Y |Z)
where α is a scaling factor, and nd (t) is the distortion
noise. nd (t) is obviously not Gaussian, but since mul- = h(Y ) − h(Z + N |Z)
ticarrier transmission systems often feature some form = h(Y ) − h(N ) , (12)
where h(Y ) is the differential entropy defined as
Z 1 1
s= + . (20)
h(Y ) = − pY (y) log2 pY (y) dy . (13) Px Pn
S There is no closed form-solution for I1 (ry ), so one
pY (y) is the PDF of Y . Other differential entropies are has to resort to numerical evaluation. This can be a bit
defined accordingly, and S is the support of Y . cumbersome, but one method to generate satisfactory
The computation of h(N ) is straightforward, since results is to substitute the series (16) into (19) and to
n(t) is a complex normal random process [9]. Keeping reverse the order of integration and summation. This can
in mind that all signals including n(t) are complex- be done, provided (19) converges, but since we know the
valued, the result reads general form of the result (it is one part of pRy (ry )), it is
safe to assume convergence in this case. The final result
h(N ) = log2 (πePn ) , (14) for I1 (ry ) reads

where Pn is the variance of n(t). 2ry −ry2 /Pn

h(Y ) is more difficult to obtain, because the PDF I1 (ry ) = e ×
Px Pn
pY (y) depends on the nonlinearity. Without loss of ∞
X ry2k
generality, the conditional PDF of Ry = |Y | given Γ(k + 1, sA2 ) , (21)
Rx = |X| is Ricean: Pn2k sk+1 k!

µ ¶ where Γ(a, x) is the incomplete Gamma function

2ry − ry2 +fP(rx )2 2ry f (rx ) defined as
pRy |Rx (ry , rx ) = e n I0 ,
Pn Pn
(15) Z∞
where I0 (·) is the 0-th order modified Bessel function Γ(a, x) = ta−1 e−t dt . (22)
of the first kind. A possible series expansion of this x
function, which will be used here, reads
The second part I2 (ry ) is easier to evaluate, it reads

X x2k
I0 (x) = , x ≥ 0. (16) µ ¶
22k k!2 4ry −(ry2 +A2 )/Pn 2Ary
k=0 I2 (ry ) = e I0 ×
Px Pn Pn
The description (15) in polar coordinates is conve-
nient, since clipping affects the magnitude of x(t). In 2

order to determine pY (y), the PDF of Y , it is sufficient rx e−rx /Px drx

to compute pRy (ry ). The phase of Y will be uniformly A
µ ¶
distributed on the interval [0, 2π), since the same is true 2ry −sA2 −ry2 /Pn 2Ary
= e I0 . (23)
for the phases of X and N . Therefore, Pn Pn
pRy (ry ) Noting that
pY (y) = . (17)

pRy (ry ) = I1 (ry ) + I2 (ry ) (24)
The desired PDF of |Y | can now be computed from
concludes the computation of the PDF of Ry . Figure
Z∞ 2 shows pRy (ry ) for the normalized values Px = 1,
pRy (ry ) = pRx (rx ) pRy |Rx (ry , rx ) drx . (18) Pn = 10−2 , and A = 1.
−∞ This PDF can be used to evaluate h(Y ) via (13). It
can be computed by solving just one integral, but then
The integral (18) often cannot be solved in closed
the integrand deserves a bit of attention, since its proper
form, depending on the nonlinearity.
form reads
For the soft limiter nonlinearity given by (3), the
integral (18) has to be split into two parts, specifically
Z∞ µ ¶
a first part I1 for rx ≤ A, and a second part I2 for pRy (ry )
rx > A. I1 comes out to be h(Y ) = − pRy (ry ) log2 . (25)

ZA µ ¶ Integration over the phase removes the scaling factor

4ry −ry2 /Pn 2 2ry rx
I1 (ry ) = e rx e−srx I0 drx , 2π from the integrand, but the factor remains inside
Px Pn Pn the logarithm, along with the functional determinant ry
(19) which arises from using polar coordinates. Again, (25)
where must be evaluated numerically in many cases.
2.5 7

Gaussian Input
5 soft limiter, IBO 3 dB

C in bits/channel use
soft limiter, IBO 0 dB



0 0
0 0.5 1 1.5 -5 0 5 10 15 20
ry γ in dB

Fig. 2. pRy (ry ) for Px = 1, Pn = 0.01, and A = 1 Fig. 3. Capacity with soft limited Gaussian input

The general framework above applies to other nonlin-

earities as well. For example, it is interesting to focus on α 2 Px γα2
the special case of a hard limiter nonlinearity. It does not γB = = . (28)
(β − α2 )Px + Pn γ(β − α2 ) + 1
affect the phase of the complex signal, but it removes
any fluctuation of the magnitude. The output will be Therefore, the channel capacity of this modified
constant envelope with magnitude A. This converts a AWGN channel becomes
multicarrier signal to a phase modulated signal. It is easy µ ¶
to see that γα2
CB (γ) = log2 1 +
γ(β − α2 ) + 1
µ ¶ µ ¶
2ry −(ry2 +A2 )/Pn 2Ary 1 + βγ
pRy (ry ) = e I0 (26) = log2 , (29)
Pn Pn 1 + βγ − α2 γ
in this case, and h(Y ) can be computed as shown which was also derived in [4]. Figure 4 shows these
above. capacities for IBOs of 0 and 3 dB, respectively. The
curves saturate for high γ, because nd (t) creates an
IV. R ESULTS AWGN floor which limits capacity. The saturation level
The goal is to compare I(Y ; Z) to the mutual in- has the value
formation when the channel input is Gaussian. To do µ ¶
that, I(Y ; Z) must be scaled accordingly, since the lim CB (γ) = − log2 1 − . (30)
nonlinearity f (·) changes the signal power, so that Pz 6=
γ→∞ β
Px . The scaling can often be done analytically, because In contrast, the new analysis does not show saturation.
Pz = βPx , and β is given by (11). Figure 3 shows the The whole transmit signal at the output of the nonlinear-
results for IBOs of 0 and 3 dB, respectively. The curve ity is treated as the useful signal, and no restrictions are
on top is the Shannon capacity for Gaussian channel imposed upon the receiver. The worst case bound, the
input. It can be seen that, even for such low values of newly developed best case bound, and the restrictions
IBO, the loss in mutual information is rather small. The of the modulation alphabet combine to a useful tool for
curves join at low SNR, when AWGN is the dominant evaluation of receive algorithms for clipped multicarrier
impairment. signals observed over the AWGN channel.
It is interesting to compare these results to the worst Finally, figure 5 shows the result for the hard limiter-
case-analysis, which is based on the Bussgang decom- nonlinearity. The capacity loss with respect to the Gaus-
position. Let γ be the SNR, defined in the usual fashion sian channel input illustrates, which amount of informa-
as tion is conveyed in the amplitude of a complex Gaussian
signal. Up to 2 bits/channel use (QPSK rate), such a
Px system is quite competitive. It is, therefore, a potential
. (27)
Pn option for low-power transmitters with highly efficient
The SNR at a receiver which treats nd (t) as AWGN power amplifiers and strong coding, which shifts the
reads power requirements to the receiver.
[2] A. Papoulis, Probability, Random Variables and Stochastic
Processes, 3rd. Ed. McGraw-Hill Inc., 1991.
9 [3] Paolo Banelli, “Theoretical Analysis and Performance
of OFDM Signals in Nonlinear Fading Channels,” IEEE
Gaussian Input Transactions on Wireless Communications, Vol. 2, No. 2,
7 worst case, IBO 3 dB pp. 284–293, March 2003.
C in bits/channel use

worst case, IBO 0 dB [4] Hideki Ochiai and Hideki Imai, “Performance Analysis of
Deliberately Clipped OFDM Signals,” IEEE Transactions
5 on Communications, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp. 89–101, Jan. 2002.
[5] Claude E. Shannon, “A Mathematical Theory of Com-
munication,” Bell System Technical Journal, Vol. 27, pp.
3 379–423, 623–656, July, Oct. 1948.
[6] Jose Tellado, Louise M. C. Hoo, and John M. Cioffi,
“Maximum-Likelihood Detection of Nonlinearly Distorted
1 Multicarrier Symbols by Iterative Decoding,” IEEE Trans-
actions on Communications, Vol. 51, No. 2, pp. 218–228,
-5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Feb. 2003.
γ in dB
[7] Christoph Rapp, Analyse der nichtlinearen Verzerrungen
modulierter Digitalsignale – Vergleich codierter und un-
Fig. 4. Capacity from worst case-analysis codierter Modulationsverfahren und Methoden der Kom-
pensation durch Vorverzerrung, Number 195 in Fortschrit-
tberichte VDI, Reihe 10. VDI-Verlag, Düsseldorf, 1992.
[8] Adel A. M. Saleh, “Frequency-Independent and
Frequency-Dependent Nonlinear Models of TWT Ampli-
fiers,” IEEE Transactions on Communications, vol. COM-
29, no. 11, pp. 1715 – 1720, Nov. 1981.
[9] T. M. Cover and J. A. Thomas, Elements of Information
5 Theory, Wiley and Sons, 1991.
C in bits/channel use

Gaussian Input
Hard Limiter

-5 0 5 10 15 20
γ in dB

Fig. 5. Capacity with hard limited Gaussian input

A framework for the computation of the capacity of
multicarrier systems with complex signals impaired by
nonlinear distortion and AWGN has been developed. It
was shown that even severe clipping results in only a
moderate reduction of system capacity. These capacity
results can be used as an upper bound for evaluation of
receive algorithms for nonlinearly distorted multicarrier
signals. Furthermore, the results indicate that deliberate
signal clipping at the transmitter, possibly in the digital
baseband domain, can be a reasonable approach to
developing power-efficient transmitters. However, this
comes at the price of more complex receive algorithms.

[1] A. R. S. Bahai and B. R. Saltzberg, Multi-Carrier Digital
Communications - Theory and Applications of OFDM,
Kluwer Academic/Plenum, 1999.