On Massive MIMO Base Stations with Low-End Hardware

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: Massive MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) base stations have proven, both in theory and in practice, to possess many of the qualities that future wireless communication systems will require.  They can provide equally high data rates throughout their coverage area and can concurrently serve multiple low-end handsets without requiring wider spectrum, denser base station deployment or significantly more power than current base stations.  The main challenge of massive MIMO is the immense hardware complexity and cost of the base station—each element in the large antenna array needs to be individually controllable and therefore requires its own radio chain.  To make massive MIMO commercially viable, the base station has to be built from inexpensive simple hardware.  In this thesis, it is investigated how the use of low-end power amplifiers and analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) affects the performance of massive MIMO.  In the study of the signal distortion from low-end amplifiers, it is shown that in-band distortion is negligible in massive MIMO and that out-of-band radiation is the limiting factor that decides what power efficiency the amplifiers can be operated at.  A precoder that produces transmit signals for the downlink with constant envelope in continuous time is presented to allow for highly power efficient low-end amplifiers.  Further, it is found that the out-of-band radiation is isotropic when the channel is frequency selective and when multiple users are served; and that it can be beamformed when the channel is frequency flat and when few users are served.  Since a massive MIMO base station radiates less power than today's base stations, isotropic out-of-band radiation means that low-end hardware with poorer linearity than required today can be used in massive MIMO.  It is also shown that using one-bit ADCs—the simplest and least power-hungry ADCs—at the base station only degrades the signal-to-interference-and-noise ratio of the system by approximately 4 dB when proper power allocation among users is done, which indicates that massive MIMO is resistant against coarse quantization and that low-end ADCs can be used.

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