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FPGA-based DOCSIS upstream demodulation



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In recent years, the state-of-the-art in field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology has been advancing rapidly. Consequently, the use of FPGAs is being considered in many applications which have traditionally relied upon application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). FPGA-based designs have a number of advantages over ASIC-based designs, including lower up-front engineering design costs, shorter time-to-market, and the ability to reconfigure devices in the field. However, ASICs have a major advantage in terms of computational resources. As a result, expensive high performance ASIC algorithms must be redesigned to fit the limited resources available in an FPGA. Concurrently, coaxial cable television and internet networks have been undergoing significant upgrades that have largely been driven by a sharp increase in the use of interactive applications. This has intensified demand for the so-called upstream channels, which allow customers to transmit data into the network. The format and protocol of the upstream channels are defined by a set of standards, known as DOCSIS 3.0, which govern the flow of data through the network. Critical to DOCSIS 3.0 compliance is the upstream demodulator, which is responsible for the physical layer reception from all customers. Although upstream demodulators have typically been implemented as ASICs, the design of an FPGA-based upstream demodulator is an intriguing possibility, as FPGA-based demodulators could potentially be upgraded in the field to support future DOCSIS standards. Furthermore, the lower non-recurring engineering costs associated with FPGA-based designs could provide an opportunity for smaller companies to compete in this market. The upstream demodulator must contain complicated synchronization circuitry to detect, measure, and correct for channel distortions. Unfortunately, many of the synchronization algorithms described in the open literature are not suitable for either upstream cable channels or FPGA implementation. In this thesis, computationally inexpensive and robust synchronization algorithms are explored. In particular, algorithms for frequency recovery and equalization are developed. The many data-aided feedforward frequency offset estimators analyzed in the literature have not considered intersymbol interference (ISI) caused by micro-reflections in the channel. It is shown in this thesis that many prominent frequency offset estimation algorithms become biased in the presence of ISI. A novel high-performance frequency offset estimator which is suitable for implementation in an FPGA is derived from first principles. Additionally, a rule is developed for predicting whether a frequency offset estimator will become biased in the presence of ISI. This rule is used to establish a channel excitation sequence which ensures the proposed frequency offset estimator is unbiased. Adaptive equalizers that compensate for the ISI take a relatively long time to converge, necessitating a lengthy training sequence. The convergence time is reduced using a two step technique to seed the equalizer. First, the ISI equivalent model of the channel is estimated in response to a specific short excitation sequence. Then, the estimated channel response is inverted with a novel algorithm to initialize the equalizer. It is shown that the proposed technique, while inexpensive to implement in an FPGA, can decrease the length of the required equalizer training sequence by up to 70 symbols. It is shown that a preamble segment consisting of repeated 11-symbol Barker sequences which is well-suited to timing recovery can also be used effectively for frequency recovery and channel estimation. By performing these three functions sequentially using a single set of preamble symbols, the overall length of the preamble may be further reduced.



carrier frequency estimation, channel estimation, field programmable gate array, DOCSIS, equalization, synchronization, demodulation



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Electrical Engineering


Electrical Engineering


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