Technote
Author: C. John Grebenkemper
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The Communications Edge ™
Technote
Author: C. John Grebenkemper
the limiting factor in the sensitivity of this methods can be used to measure phase noise
FUNDAMENTAL RELATIONSHIPS
measurement method. When this measure with greater sensitivity and accuracy at the
1
ment is done using an analog spectrum ana Sy (f) = Sδf (f)
cost of considerably more complexity in fo2
lyzer, the result is usually two to three dB instrumentation. 1
better than what the oscillator is actually Sδφ (f) = S (f)
f 2 δf
achieving. The prime reasons for this error Incidental frequency modulation (IFM) is
∞
often used to specify overall oscillator insta 1
are averaging done in the spectrum analyzer
bility. For IFM to be well defined, it should
£(f) = S (f) if
2 δf ∫
S (f’) df’<< 1 rad2
f δφ
after the log detector and the difference ∞
between the resolution bandwidth of the
analyzer and its noise bandwidth. Other
always be specified with a lower and upper
frequency limit. For FM receivers, these lim
δy2(τ) = 2 o Sy (f’)∫ [ (πfτ)2

(2πfτ)2 ]
sin2 (πfτ) sin2 (2πfτ)
df
fb S (f) df
Symbol Units Definition
βf =
√∫ fa
δf
£(f) dBc/Hz Singlesideband Phase Noise. This is the phase instability of the oscilla
tor measured in the frequency domain. It is the most commonly used
βφ =
√∫ fb S (f) df
fa
δφ
a
2
Sδf(f) Hz2/Hz Spectral Density of the Frequency Fluctuations. This is the power spec
tral density of a frequency discriminator’s output. It can be directly mea
sured by connecting an audio spectrum analyzer to the output of a fre √ f
β = 2∫ f £ (f) df
φ b
a
quency discriminator whose input is the oscillator under measurement. FREQUENCY MULTIPLICATION RULE
Sδφ(f) Radians2/Hz Spectral Density of the Phase Fluctuations. This is the power spectral £Mfo(f) = £fo(f) + 20 log (M)
density of a phase discriminator’s output. It can be directly measured by
connecting an audio spectrum analyzer to the output of a phase demod
Table 2. Phasenoise relationships.
ulator which has its input connected to the oscillator under test.
Sy(f) 1/Hz Spectral Density of the Fractional Frequency Fluctuations. This is S(f(f)
divided by the oscillator frequency squared. The main advantage of this
its are normally set to the lower and upper
unit of measurement is that it is invariant under frequency multiplication limits of the video passband. For other
and may therefore be used to judge the relative quality of oscillators at types of receivers the upper limit should be
different frequencies.
set equal to the IF bandwidth. If no upper
σy(τ) Twopoint Allan Variance. This is a time domain measure of oscillator
instability. It can be directly measured using a frequency counter to repet limit is set in an IFM specification, then its
itively measure the oscillator frequency over a time period τ. The Allen magnitude tends to become very large. For
variance is the expected value of the RMS change in frequency with phasemodulated signals, incidental phase
each sample normalized by the oscillator frequency.
modulation is preferred over IFM, since it
βf Hz Incidental Frequency Modulation. This is a measure of the RMS frequen
cy instability over a band of offset frequencies. It can be calculated by provides a better measure of overall oscilla
taking the square root of the spectral density of the frequency fluctua tor instability for that type of signal.
tions integrated from a lower frequency limit to an upper frequency limit.
It can be directly measured by passing the output of a frequency discrim All of these measures of phase noise can be
inator, whose input is the oscillator under test, through a bandpass filter
and determining the RMS frequency variation.
related to each other by the appropriate
mathematical formulas. Table 2 gives the
βφ Radians Incidental Phase Modulation. This is a measure of the total RMS phase
instability over a band of offset frequencies. It can be calculated by taking mathematical expressions that relate all of
the square root of the spectral density of the phase fluctuations integrat the phase noise definitions given in Table 1.
ed from a lower frequency limit to an upper frequency limit. It can be
directly measured by passing the output of a phase discriminator, whose
Some of these formulas only apply under
input is the oscillator under test, through a bandpass filter and determin special conditions. SSB phase noise can only
ing the RMS phase variation. be converted from the various spectral den
f Hz Offset Frequency. This is the frequency of the phase or frequency fluctu sity measures if the power in the phase fluc
ations. When the oscillator is directly viewed on a spectrum analyzer, this
becomes the offset from the carrier frequency. tuations at frequencies greater than the off
fo Hz Frequency of Carrier. This is the frequency of the oscillator which is being set frequency is much less than 1 radian2.
measured. The offset frequency at which this condition
Table 1. PhasenoIse definitions. becomes valid can vary from tens of Hertz
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The Communications Edge ™
Technote
Author: C. John Grebenkemper
to tens of kiloHertz, depending on the quali The phase noise of the local oscillator will fb 2
ty of the oscillator. The Allan variance can
be directly computed from the fractional fre
generate a constant level of noise at the out S
=
∫ 2
K (f) Kd (f) Sv(f) df
fa f
put of the FM receiver. If the RF input to N fb 2
quency fluctuations. However, the reverse is
not true unless an assumption is made about
the receiver is sufficiently strong, this source
of noise will dominate and therefore limit
∫ K (f) Sδf(f) df
fa d
the power law slope of the spectral density of This latter formula is more difficult to evalu
the maximum signaltonoise ratio that the
the fractional frequency fluctuations. The ate than the simpler formula, which does
receiver can achieve. The power in the noise
frequency multiplication rule relates the not include the effects of preemphasis and
is found from,
increase in the SSB phase noise to multipli deemphasis. However, for most FM trans
fb mission systems, the simpler formula will
cation integer, M. If an oscillator is multi
plied in frequency by a factor of ten in an
Pn = Kd
2
∫ S (f) df
fa δφ provide an answer which is within a few dB
ideal multiplier, the oscillator’s SSB phase Taking the ratio of these two powers yields a of the correct result. Since local oscillator
noise will increase by 20 dB. Similarly, if the phase noise performance can vary by this
signaltonoise ratio of,
oscillator’s frequency is divided by ten in an much, it is usually sufficiently accurate to
fb use the simpler formula.
ideal frequency divider, its SSB phase noise
will decrease by 20 dB.
S
=
Kd
2
∫ S (f) df
fa v
N fb EXAMPLE
LIMIT OF FM SIGNALTONOISE ∫ S (f) df
fa δφ
What is the local oscillator limited signalto
RATIO which simplifies to, noise ratio for an FM signal which has a 5
The phase noise of a local oscillator will fb kHz RMS frequency deviation and a video
limit the maximum signaltonoise ratio that
can be achieved with an FM receiver. The
S =
Kd
2
∫ S (f) df
fa v modulation bandwidth of 300 Hz to 3 kHz?
The local oscillator SSB phase noise is a con
N 2
βf
oscillator phase noise is transferred to the stant 70 dBc/Hz from 100 Hz to 10 kHz.
carrier to which the receiver is tuned and is The local oscillator limited signaltonoise
ratio is equal to the power in the frequency SOLUTION
then demodulated by the FM discriminator.
The phase noise results in a constant noise deviation of the signal divided by the inci The solution requires us to find the modu
power output from the discriminator. If the dental frequency modulation squared. lating power in the signal and the incidental
phase noise has a power spectral density of, frequency modulation of the local oscillator.
If the FM transmission system uses preem The signal has a 5kHz RMS frequency
Sδφ(f), the output of the discriminator due
phasis and deemphasis, then the modulator deviation. The square of this is the modulat
to the phase noise is f 2 Sδφ(f). Figure 2 illus
and demodulator gain constants change with ing power contained in the signal.
trates a simplified block diagram of an FM
frequency. Under this condition, the local
receiver. The bandpass filter on the output Ps (5 kHz)2 = 2.5 × 107 Hz2
limits the video bandwidth to that required oscillator limited sign altonoise ratio
to pass the signal. The output signaltonoise becomes, Since this oscillator exhibits a low phase
ratio is the power in the signal divided by
the power in the noise. The power in the
signal can be found by,
lim 1 T
Ps =
T→∞ T o ∫ 2 2
Kd K f v2 (t) dt, INPUT LIMITER
DISCRIMINATOR
BANDPASS
FILTER
fa << f << fb
OUTPUT
becomes,
fb
2 2
∫
Ps = Kd K f f Sv(f) df
a Figure 2. Block diagram of an FM receiver.
WJ Communications, Inc. • 401 River Oaks Parkway • San Jose, CA 951341918 • Phone: 1800WJ14401 • Fax: 4085776620 • email: sales@wj.com • Web site: www.wj.com
The Communications Edge ™
Technote
Author: C. John Grebenkemper
modulation power, the incidental frequency shifted in integer multiples of a minimum predict the exact degradation in the bit error
modulation may be found from, phase step. For biphase shift keying, the rate for a nonspecific case. However, a rule
phase shift is integer multiples of 180°; for of thumb can be used to predict the system
fb 2
βf =
√∫
2
fa
f £(f) df quadphase shift keying, it is multiples of
90°; and for eightphase shift keying, it is
performance. The rule states that for bit
error rates greater than 106, the system per
=
√∫
2 3000f 2 107 df = 42 Hz
300
multiples of 45° Other forms of digital
transmission are used, but these usually
formance can be maintained to within a few
dB of theoretical bit error rates for that
The power in the FM demodulator output involve both amplitude and phaseshift key modulation type if the incidental phase
is the square of the incidental frequency ing of the carrier. Local oscillator phase noise modulation of the local oscillator is less than
modulation. will effect the bit error rate performance of onetenth of the minimum phase step of the
2 a phaseshift keyed digital transmission sys phaseshift keyed carrier. The incidental
PN = βf = 1800 Hz2
tem. A transmission error will occur any phase modulation should be computed from
The ratio of these two numbers yields the time the local oscillator phase, due to its the natural frequency of the carrier recovery
local oscillator limited signaltonoise ratio. noise, becomes sufficiently large that the phaselock loop to onehalf of the IF band
S = 41 dB digital phase detection makes an incorrect width. For instance, in a QPSK system, the
N decision as to the transmission phase. For incidental phase modulation should be less
instance, a QPSK transmission system will than 9 degrees RMS to meet this rule.
INCIDENTAL PHASE make a transmission error if the instanta
MODULATION neous oscillator phase is offset by more than EXAMPLE
The local oscillator phase noise can limit the 45° since the phase detector will determine A receiver has a local oscillator SSB phase
signaltonoise ratio of a phasemodulated that baud to be in the incorrect quadrant. noise given in the table below. What is the
signal to which the receiver is tuned. A sim Digital transmission systems with smaller incidental phase modulation of the local
plified block diagram of such a receiver is phase multiples are more sensitive to degra oscillator integrated from 100 Hz to 1
shown in Figure 3. In this case, the limiting dation due to local oscillator phase noise. MHz?
signaltonoise ratio is determined by the
The bit error rate degradation due to local f (f )
power in the phase modulation divided by
oscillator phase noise can only be deter
the incidental phase modulation squared, 100 Hz 70 dBc/Hz
mined if the probability distribution of the
fb local oscillator phase is known. This cannot 1 kHz 70 dBc/Hz
S =
Kp
2
∫ S (f) df
fa v
2
be determined uniquely from the measure 10 kHz 70 dBc/Hz
N βφ ment of the phase noise without using a 100 kHz 90 dBc/Hz
detailed model of the oscillator. 1 MHz 120 dBc/Hz
where, Kp is the phase modulator gain con
Furthermore, if the oscillator is within a
stant.
phaselocked loop, the probability distribu SOLUTION
Phase modulation is usually used to transmit tion of the phase will be modified by the If we assume that the integrated power in
digital signals rather than analog signals. For parameters of the phaselocked loop. For the phase modulation is much less than 1
digital signals, the phase of the carrier is these reasons, it is not practical to attempt to
radian2, then we can evaluate the approxi
mate integral of the SSB phase noise, given
in Table 2, to determine the oscillator inci
BANDPASS OUTPUT dental phase modulation. If the approxima
PHASE FILTER
SIGNAL DEMODULATOR fa << f << fb tion is true, then the resulting answer will be
much less than 1 radian. The numerical
evaluation of this integral yields,
1 MHz
LOCAL
OSCILLIATOR
βφ =
√∫
2
100 Hz
£(f) df
= 0.062 radians
Figure 3. Block diagram of a phase modulation receiver.
βφ = 3.6° RMS
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The Communications Edge ™
Technote
Author: C. John Grebenkemper
The answer is indeed much less than 1 radi noise. The phase noise on each carrier will The apparent noise floor of the receiver is
an, which means that the initial assumption dominate until the noise power is reduced to the sum of these two powers. To compute
is true. The resulting answer indicates that the noise floor of the receiver. Otherwise, the this sum, the powers must be converted to
this local oscillator could be used in a receiv noise floor is flat across the IF passband. The absolute power, summed, and then converted
ing system for an 8PSK modulation which central carrier is the strongest, and therefore back to dBm. If it is necessary to compute
has a minimum phase shift of 45°. exhibits the strongest phasenoise compo the apparent noise floor at different frequen
nent. The weaker carrier on the left has a cies, this process can be repeated at the desired
RECIPROCAL MIXING smaller range over which its phase noise offset frequencies. The net effect is that the
Reciprocal mixing will cause the receiving dominates. The weaker carrier on the right is receiver’s apparent noise floor decreases as
system to lose sensitivity when there is a nearly masked by the phase noise from the the receiver is tuned away from the carrier
strong signal near the frequency to which strong carrier. If the receiver was tuned to until it reaches the underlying noise floor
the receiver is tuned. This effect is due to the this carrier, it would achieve a much worse generated by the receiver’s front end.
phase noise of the local oscillator modulating signaltonoise ratio performance than
the carrier of the strong signal. The carrier is would be predicted from the receiver’s noise EXAMPLE
spread in frequency by the phase noise mod figure. This poorer performance is due exclu A receiver with a 15 dB noise figure is tuned
ulation, which results in a power spectral sively to the local oscillator phase noise. to a carrier with a 20 dBm power level.
density that is proportional to the local oscil What is the equivalent receiver noise figure
lator’s SSB phase noise. When the receiver is The increase in the noise floor of the receiver
1 MHz from the carrier when £(1 MHz) =
tuned to a frequency near the strong carrier, can be computed using the following
120 dBc/Hz?
the power density in the strong carrier’s methodology: The receiver noise floor in a
noise sidebands may exceed the noise floor oneHertz bandwidth is the sum of the SOLUTION
of the receiver. If it does exceed the noise receiver’s noise figure, F, in dB and 174
The noise flow due to the receiver’s front
floor, then the receiver sensitivity is limited dBm/Hz,
end is,
by reciprocal mixing. Pn = F  174 (dBm/Hz)
Pn = F  174 = 159 dBm/Hz
This effect is illustrated by Figure 4. The The noise generated in the receiver from a
receiver is tuned in the frequency range of At a 1 MHz offset frequency, the noise power
nearby carrier is the sum of the carrier
three carriers. The strongest carrier is in the due to the local oscillator phase noise is,
power, Pc, in dBm and the SSB phase noise
center, with a weaker carrier on each side. of the local oscillator at an offset frequency Po = Po + £(1 MHz) = 140 dBm/Hz
The local oscillator has an SSB phase noise equal to the difference between the carrier
which decreases with increasing offset fre The sum of these two powers at this offset
frequency and the frequency to which the from the carrier is an apparent noise floor of
quency. The three carriers will appear at the
receiver is tuned. 140 dBm/Hz. The equivalent noise figure
IF output, and each carrier will have been
modulated by the local oscillator phase Po =Pc + £(f) (dBm/Hz) of the receiver is the difference between the
apparent noise floor and 174 dBm/Hz,
Feq = 34 dB
The receiver noise figure is increased 19 dB
RECEIVER when it is tuned 1 MHz away from the 20
IF OUTPUT
dBm carrier.
INPUT SIGNALS
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The Communications Edge ™
Technote
Author: C. John Grebenkemper
mance, since they are not generated by a tive to a different bandwidth, the amplitude sary to specify the spurious signals to a lower
random process. The sources of these dis of the random phase noise component will level at some frequencies. This is particularly
crete frequencies within the receiver are change, whereas the discrete spurious signal true of digital demodulators, which usually
numerous. The power line frequency will component will remain constant in amplitude. contain phaselock loops that can falselock
often modulate the local oscillator. If the to a spurious modulation.
Any local oscillator which is generated using
local oscillator is generated using frequency
a phaselocked loop will always have some Outside the video passband, the spurious
synthesis techniques, then reference frequen spurious signals present in its output. The signals should not degrade the receiver’s spu
cies used in the synthesizer will generate spu amplitude and frequency of these spurious riousfree dynamic range. This condition is
rious signals. Other oscillators and digital modulations may vary as the local oscillator guaranteed if the spurious signals at offset
frequency dividers in the receiver can gener is tuned. Poor layout of the phaselocked frequencies greater than the narrowest IF
ate frequencies which modulate the local loop oscillator circuitry may increase the bandwidth are further below the carrier than
oscillator. If the receiver uses a switching amplitude and number of these spurious sig the spuriousfree dynamic range specifica
power supply, the switching frequency may nals. However, even under ideal conditions tion. A receiver specified this way will not
modulate the local oscillator. While there are some of the spurious signals will always be have any spurious responses from the local
other potential sources of modulation, those present. It is therefore necessary to define an oscillator, which occur at power levels less
mentioned above are the most common ones. acceptable level of oscillator spurious modu than the input power required to generate
Figure 5 shows a plot of SSB phase noise for lations. intermodulation spurious responses.
a local oscillator which is generated using an A spurious specification can be broken down However, when the power level is sufficiently
indirect frequency synthesizer. The peaks in into two regions of interest: inside the video high, the receiver will have spurious respons
the noise spectrum are generated by the dis passband and outside the video passband. es that are due to the local oscillator. These
crete frequency modulation of the local Any spurious signals present with a modula spurious responses may be detected as if they
oscillator. Visible in this spectrum are spuri tion rate which is in the video passband of were real signals.
ous components due to the 60Hz line fre the receiver output must not degrade the A more stringent specification would require
quency, the 30kHz power supply switching incidental frequency modulation or inciden that the spurious signals not degrade the rec
frequency, and the 250kHz reference fre tal phasemodulation performance required iprocal mixing performance of the receiver.
quency of the phaselock loop synthesizer. of the receiver. If this condition is not met, This condition will guarantee that the
The spurious signals are given in units of the receiver will not meet its desired local receiver will never detect any of the spurious
dBc rather than the dBc/Hz of SSB phase oscillator limited signaltonoise ratio. With signals as a real signal. This condition will be
noise. If the SSB phase noise is plotted rela some types of demodulators it may be neces met if no spurious signals can be observed in
the SSB phase noise when it is measured
with a resolution bandwidth equal to the
0 narrowest IF bandwidth used in the receiver.
HUM SWITCHING REFERENCE In effect, the local oscillator SSB phasenoise
MODULATION POWER SUPPLY HARMONICS
60 120 180 30 60 90 250 500 1000 power in this bandwidth exceeds the spuri
oussignal power. A specification of this type
can be very difficult to meet.
SINGLE SIDEBAND
PHASE NOISE, £(f)
50
(dBc/Hz)
CONCLUSIONS
The local oscillator phase noise will effect
100 the overall performance that can be achieved
in a receiving system. Great care should be
exercised in determining the desired receiver
performance. Once these requirements have
150
been determined, they can be translated into
10 Hz 100 Hz 1 kHz 10 kHz 100 kHz 1MHz
OFFSET FREQUENCY, f a required level of local oscillator performance.
Conversely, if the local oscillator perfor
Figure 5. Local oscillator spurious signals. mance is already known, it can be translated
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The Communications Edge ™
Technote
Author: C. John Grebenkemper
into a set of system level performance data. cle. The interested reader is referred to the 4. Dieter Scherer, “Learn About LowNoise
references for more information in this area. Design,” Part I, Microwaves, April 1979.
Overly stringent specifications for the local
oscillator performance should be avoided. 5. Dieter Scherer, “Learn About LowNoise
REFERENCES
Improving the oscillator performance of a Design,” Part II, Microwaves, May 1979.
given design is usually very expensive, both 1. “Time and Frequency: Theory and
in engineering and production times. Fundamentals,” Byron E. Blair, Editor, 6. Michael C. Fischer, “Analyze Noise
Generally, a local oscillator used in an FM NBS Monograph 140, US GPO, 1974. Spectra With Tailored Test Gear,”
receiver does not have to be nearly as low in 2. Floyd M. Gardner, “Phaselock Microwaves, July 1979.
phase noise as one used in a PSK receiver. Techniques,” ,John Wiley & Sons, 1979. 7. “Understanding and Measuring Phase
Finally, no data regarding the measurement 3. Peyton Z. Peebles, “Communication Noise in the Frequency Domain,”
of phase noise has been presented in this arti System Principles,” AddisonWesley, 1976. HewlettPackard Applications Note 207.
WJ Communications, Inc. • 401 River Oaks Parkway • San Jose, CA 951341918 • Phone: 1800WJ14401 • Fax: 4085776620 • email: sales@wj.com • Web site: www.wj.com