High-speed serial input-output (I/O) link has required advanced equalization and modulation techniques to mitigate inter-symbol interference (ISI) caused by multi-Gb/s signaling over band-limited channels. Increasing demands for transceiver power and area complexity has leveraged on-going interest in analog-to-digital converter (ADC) based link, which allows for robust equalization and flexible adaptation to advanced signaling. With diverse options in ISI control techniques, link performance analysis for complicated transceiver architectures is very important. This work presents advanced statistical modeling for ADC-based link, performance comparison of existing modulation and equalization techniques, and proposed hybrid ADC-based receiver that achieves further power saving in digital equalization.
Statistical analysis precisely estimates high-speed link margins at given implementation constrains and low target bit-error-rate (BER), typically ranges from 1e-12 to 1e-15, by applying proper statistical bound of noise and distortion. The proposed statistical ADC-based link modeling utilizes bounded probability density function (PDF) of limited quantization distortion (4-6 bits) through digital feed-forward and decision feedback equalizers (FFE-DFE) to improve low target BER estimation. Based on statistical modeling, this work surveys the impact of insufficient equalization, jitter and crosstalk on modulation selection among two and four level pulse amplitude modulation (PAM-2 and PAM-4, respectively) and duobinary, and ADC resolution reduction performance by partial analog equalizer (PAE).
While the information of channel loss at effective Nyquist frequency and signaling constellation loss initially guides modulation selection, the statistical analysis results show that PAM-4 best tolerates jitter and crosstalk, and duobinary requires the least equalization complexity. Meanwhile, despite robust digital equalization, high-speed ADC complexity and power consumption is still a critical bottleneck, so that PAE is necessitated to reduce ADC resolution requirement. Statistical analysis presents up to 8-bit resolution is required in 12.5Gb/s data communications at 46dB of channel loss without PAE, while 5-bit ADC is enough with 3-tap FFE PAE. For optimal ADC resolution reduction by PAE, digital equalizer complexity also increases to provide enough margin tolerating significant quantization distortion. The proposed hybrid receiver defines unreliable signal thresholds by statistical analysis and selectively takes additional digital equalization to save potentially increasing dynamic power consumption in digital. Simulation results report that the hybrid receiver saves at least 64% of digital equalization power with 3-tap FFE PAE in 12.5Gb/s data rate and up to 46dB loss channels. Finally, this work shows the use of embedded-DFE ADC in the hybrid receiver is limited by error propagation.