World's first turbo decoder chip for HSDPA UMTS terminals described today at the IEEE International Solid State Circuits Conference
Researchers from Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs today revealed architectural and performance details of the world's first turbo decoder chip for third-generation (3G) wireless data terminals that supports the evolving High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) standard. The Bell Labs-designed chip, which will be licensed to manufacturers of wireless data terminals, is powerful enough to handle data rates up to 24 Megabits per second (Mbps) - nearly ten times faster than today's most advanced mobile networks. The chip was described during a presentation at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) here by two of the Bell Labs researchers who developed the chip.
HSDPA is an evolutionary enhancement to Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) spread-spectrum technology, also known as wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA). The chip is fast enough not only to support first-generation HSDPA systems, which will offer transmission speeds between 5 and 10 Mbps, but also future Multiple-Input/Multiple-Output (MIMO) HSDPA systems, which are expected to achieve peak data rates up to 20 Mbps.
The chip achieves this extraordinary speed in part thanks to a unique implementation of turbo codes -- powerful software programs that perform error correction by adding -- to each bit of data transmitted -- several redundant bits that help the decoder reconstruct the original signal without errors at the receiving end. In addition, the chip also can be reconfigured for different packet sizes and data rates on the fly, making it compatible with the variable data rates arising from Adaptive Modulation and Coding (AMC) -- a key capacity-enhancing feature of HSDPA.
A Bell Labs research team in Sydney, Australia, designed the turbo decoder - the same team that last October announced the industry's first chip that incorporates Bell Labs Layered Space Time (BLAST) MIMO technology for mobile communications. The BLAST chip enables terminals to receive data at 19.2 Megabits per second (Mbps) in a 3G mobile network.
The design team chose a highly parallel architecture for the turbo decoder chip and employed a new compression technique that enables it to operate at a low clock frequency and yet still achieve high data rates. By operating at low clock frequencies, the chip consumes very little power.
Dynamic power reduction techniques have also been incorporated that adjust the amount of power the decoder consumes depending upon how and where the chip is being used - for example, offering more power if a user is driving in a car than if he or she is stationary in an office. This technique guarantees maximum performance while creating less of a drain on the terminal's battery.
"Bell Labs is developing the high-performance, low-power communications components that are needed to make HSDPA devices a commercial reality," said Ran Yan, vice president of Wireless Research at Bell Labs. "Turbo codes enable error correction at speeds close to the theoretical limit predicted by Information Theory. Our turbo decoder chip, therefore, is nearly the fastest possible for mobile systems."
Lucent has played a major role in the definition of the UMTS/HSDPA standards through its participation in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). Lucent's turbo decoder chip is available for license to manufacturers interested in building UMTS/HSDPA-compliant terminals.