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PCM-PWM analysis brief

Pulse width modulation is based on the simple fact that the mean value of a two-level
square wave is proportional to its duty-cycle. Thus any signal can be modulated as a
square wave by ensuring that the duty-cycle always corresponds to the signals
instantaneous value. This principle is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Pulse Width Modulation (PWM)

The modulation can be done by comparing the signal to a constant slope carrier
moving from cmin to cmax within one time period T. If the output is switched between
’high’ and ’low’ at the crossing point between the carrier and the signal, and only
then, the signal is modulated as a square wave with modulation frequency ƒC=1/T.
Obviously, the signal amplitude must be bound within cmin and cmax to avoid clipping
in the modulation process. Consequently, the amplitude is usually normalized and
referred to as the modulation index, M where M [0,1].

Since the signal is compared to the carrier and modulated in the output waveform
once per period T, it is in reality sampled at ƒS=fC and the Nyquist theorem thereby
holds, fC must be at least twice the signal bandwidth. However, the Nyquist condition
is not sufficient. In addition, the slew-rate (SR) of the carrier must be higher than the
SR of the signal at all times to avoid multiple crossings points within one sample
period. For a sinusoid signal with M=1 and a sawtooth carrier this means that
f C > f · where f is the signal bandwidth.

Also, the nonlinear nature of PWM will cause intermodulation of the carrier and the
signal frequencies. This increases the practical ratio necessary between the input and
modulation frequencies.

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