Power Characterization of a Digit-Online FPGA Implementation of a Low-Density Parity-Check Decoder for WiMAX Applications
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Low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes are a class of easily decodable error-correcting codes. Published parallel LDPC decoders demonstrate high throughput and low energy-per-bit but require a lot of silicon area. Decoders based on digit-online arithmetic (processing several bits per fundamental operation) process messages in a digit-serial fashion, reducing the area requirements, and can process multiple frames in frame-interlaced fashion. Implementations on Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) are usually power- and area-hungry, but provide flexibility compared with application-specific integrated circuit implementations. With the penetration of mobile devices in the electronics industry the power considerations have become increasingly important. The power consumption of a digit-online decoder depends on various factors, like input log-likelihood ratio (LLR) bit precision, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and maximum number of iterations. The design is implemented on an Altera Stratix IV GX EP4SGX230 FPGA, which comes on an Altera DE4 Development and Education Board. In this work, both parallel and digit-online block LDPC decoder implementations on FPGAs for WiMAX 576-bit, rate-3/4 codes are studied, and power measurements from the DE4 board are reported. Various components of the system include a random-data generator, WiMAX Encoder, shift-out register, additive white Gaussian noise (AWGN) generator, channel LLR buffer, WiMAX Decoder and bit-error rate (BER) Calculator. The random-data generator outputs pseudo-random bit patterns through an implemented linear-feedback shift register (LFSR). Digit-online decoders with input LLR precisions ranging from 6 to 13 bits and parallel decoders with input LLR precisions ranging from 3 to 6 bits are synthesized in a Stratix IV FPGA. The digit-online decoders can be clocked at higher frequency for higher LLR precisions. A digit-online decoder can be used to decode two frames simultaneously in frame-interlaced mode. For the 6-bit implementation of digit-online decoder in single-frame mode, the minimum throughput achieved is 740 Mb/s at low SNRs. For the case of 11-bit LLR digit-online decoder in frame-interlaced mode, the minimum throughput achieved is 1363 Mb/s. Detailed analysis such as effect of SNR and LLR precision on decoder power is presented. Also, the effect of changing LLR precision on max clock frequency and logic utilization on the parallel and the digit-online decoders is studied. Alongside, power per iteration for a 6-bit LLR input digit-online decoder is also reported.