Faculty Advisor

Xinming Huang

Faculty Advisor

James Duckworth

Faculty Advisor

Berk Sunar

Faculty Advisor

Zhongfeng Wang




The Low-Density Parity-Check (LDPC) codes, which were invented by Gallager back in 1960s, have attracted considerable attentions recently. Compared with other error correction codes, LDPC codes are well suited for wireless, optical, and magnetic recording systems due to their near- Shannon-limit error-correcting capacity, high intrinsic parallelism and high-throughput potentials. With these remarkable characteristics, LDPC codes have been adopted in several recent communication standards such as 802.11n (Wi-Fi), 802.16e (WiMax), 802.15.3c (WPAN), DVB-S2 and CMMB. This dissertation is devoted to exploring efficient VLSI architectures for high-performance LDPC decoders and LDPC-like detectors in sparse inter-symbol interference (ISI) channels. The performance of an LDPC decoder is mainly evaluated by area efficiency, error-correcting capability, throughput and rate flexibility. With this work we investigate tradeoffs between the four performance aspects and develop several decoder architectures to improve one or several performance aspects while maintaining acceptable values for other aspects. Firstly, we present a high-throughput decoder design for the Quasi-Cyclic (QC) LDPC codes. Two new techniques are proposed for the first time, including parallel layered decoding architecture (PLDA) and critical path splitting. Parallel layered decoding architecture enables parallel processing for all layers by establishing dedicated message passing paths among them. The decoder avoids crossbar-based large interconnect network. Critical path splitting technique is based on articulate adjustment of the starting point of each layer to maximize the time intervals between adjacent layers, such that the critical path delay can be split into pipeline stages. Furthermore, min-sum and loosely coupled algorithms are employed for area efficiency. As a case study, a rate-1/2 2304-bit irregular LDPC decoder is implemented using ASIC design in 90 nm CMOS process. The decoder can achieve an input throughput of 1.1 Gbps, that is, 3 or 4 times improvement over state-of-art LDPC decoders, while maintaining a comparable chip size of 2.9 mm^2. Secondly, we present a high-throughput decoder architecture for rate-compatible (RC) LDPC codes which supports arbitrary code rates between the rate of mother code and 1. While the original PLDA is lack of rate flexibility, the problem is solved gracefully by incorporating the puncturing scheme. Simulation results show that our selected puncturing scheme only introduces the BER performance degradation of less than 0.2dB, compared with the dedicated codes for different rates specified in the IEEE 802.16e (WiMax) standard. Subsequently, PLDA is employed for high throughput decoder design. As a case study, a RC- LDPC decoder based on the rate-1/2 WiMax LDPC code is implemented in CMOS 90 nm process. The decoder can achieve an input throughput of 975 Mbps and supports any rate between 1/2 and 1. Thirdly, we develop a low-complexity VLSI architecture and implementation for LDPC decoder used in China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting (CMMB) systems. An area-efficient layered decoding architecture based on min-sum algorithm is incorporated in the design. A novel split-memory architecture is developed to efficiently handle the weight-2 submatrices that are rarely seen in conventional LDPC decoders. In addition, the check-node processing unit is highly optimized to minimize complexity and computing latency while facilitating a reconfigurable decoding core. Finally, we propose an LDPC-decoder-like channel detector for sparse ISI channels using belief propagation (BP). The BP-based detection computationally depends on the number of nonzero interferers only and are thus more suited for sparse ISI channels which are characterized by long delay but a small fraction of nonzero interferers. Layered decoding algorithm, which is popular in LDPC decoding, is also adopted in this paper. Simulation results show that the layered decoding doubles the convergence speed of the iterative belief propagation process. Exploring the special structure of the connections between the check nodes and the variable nodes on the factor graph, we propose an effective detector architecture for generic sparse ISI channels to facilitate the practical application of the proposed detection algorithm. The proposed architecture is also reconfigurable in order to switch flexible connections on the factor graph in the time-varying ISI channels.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Electrical & Computer Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Layered Decoding, Error Correction Codes, Decoder, LDPC Codes