Rate Flexible Soft Decision Viterbi Decoder using SiLago

University essay from KTH/Skolan för elektroteknik och datavetenskap (EECS)

Abstract: The IEEE 802.11a protocol is part of the IEEE 802 protocols for implementing WLAN Wi- Fi computer communications in various frequencies. These protocols find applications worldwide, covering a wide range of devices like mobile phones, computers, laptops, household appliances, etc. Since wireless communication is being used, data that is transmitted is susceptible to noise. As a means to recover from noise, the data transmitted is encoded using convolutional encoding and correspondingly decoded on the receiver side. The decoder used is the Viterbi decoder, in the PHY layer of the protocol. This thesis investigates soft-decision Viterbi decoder implementations that meet the requirements of the IEEE 802.11a protocol. It aims to implement a rate-flexible design as a coarse grain re-configurable architecture using the SiLago framework. SiLago is a modular approach towards ASIC design. Components are designed as hardened blocks, which means they are synthesised and pre-verified. Each block is also abuttable like LEGO blocks, which allows users to connect compatible blocks and make designs specific to their requirements, while getting performance similar to that of traditional ASICs. This approach significantly reduces the design costs, as verification is a one-time task. The thesis discusses the strongly connected trellis Viterbi decoding algorithm and proposes a design for a soft decision Viterbi decoder. The proposed design meets the throughput requirements of the communication protocol and it can be reconfigured to work for 45 different code rates, with programmable soft decision width and parallelism. The algorithm used is compared against MATLAB for its BER performance. Results from RTL simulations, advantages and disadvantages of the proposed design are discussed. Recommendations for future improvements are also made. 

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