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VCO for wide tuning, low phase noise frequency synthesizer

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by litw, Apr 16, 2004.

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  1. litw

    litw Guest

    Dear all, It's happy to see there's such a group. I need to design an
    integrated frequency syntheizer with phase noise lower than 80dbc/Hz at
    20kHz offset and a tuning range of one decade, say 90-900MHz. I need to
    choose between LC vco and ring vcos.

    LC VCO may provide a better phase noise but its tuning range is very
    limited. A ring oscillator would provide a wider range but its phase
    noise is somewhere 20-30dB above the LC outputs. I'd like to see how do
    you guys think about this.

    My plan would be a bank of LC's to cover an octave of range, and use /2
    blocks to generate the frequncies blow. But that costs a lot of chip
    area with spiral inductors (at least 4). Another maybe a ring
    oscillator with a wide loop bandwidth but for a certain frequency
    resolution that requires a fractional-N loop divider which increase
    greatly the digital complexity. I am basically an analog guy I don't
    like to mess up with too much digital stuff.

    Just my ideas. I'd like to see how you guys would think. Thanks for looking.

  2. Look at >
    for a design to cover 1000-2000 MHz and then mix this down to 90 to 900
    MHz with a oscillator on 900 MHz (LPF to remove the LO might be an issue
    ) The phase noise for this was about -87dBc at 10 KHz from memory.
    The software is largely written to drive it though this would need some work

  3. Rather than a bank of multipliers, why aren't you using a 1.09-1.9GHz
    wideband VCO, mixed with a fixed 1GHz signal and low-pass filtered to get a
    90 to 900MHz signal ? You will need two oscillators but the phase noise of
    the fixed one can be very low. For the 1.09 to 1.9GHz you could use for
    example a Minicircuits ROS2150VW, its phase noise is -96dBc/Hz at 10KHz


    Robert Lacoste - ALCIOM : The mixed signals experts
  4. Mike

    Mike Guest

    In a modern CMOS process (0.18u or better), you can exceed -90dBc/Hz at
    10kHz offset with a ring oscillator in a well designed PLL. The ring
    oscillator tuning range is limited by the supply range, and it's difficult
    to get a factor of 2 simply from changing the VCO supply. Modifying the VCO
    architecture to increase the tuning range will probably cost you some
    noise, but there is some margin to work with.

    If you're designing in CMOS, pick up a copy of Hajimiri's book or track
    down his papers on low noise CMOS ring oscillators. He concentrates on
    jitter more than phase noise, and even though the two are related, jitter
    is related to the integral of phase noise power spectrum, so you can get
    low jitter even with high phase noise, as long as the noise bandwidth isn't
    too large.

    -- Mike --
  5. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    I'm working on a similar problem... how to generate an accurate,
    low-jitter clock from DC to maybe 2 GHz. I was thinking of using a
    cheap commercial octave-bandwidth 1-2 GHz VCO and a binary divider
    chain to span 2 GHz down to 10 MHz. The chain would be phase locked to
    a 0-10 MHz DDS source; below 10 MHz, I'd just use the DDS itself.

    Something like that.

    We could have an interesting discussion on DDS lowpass filters.

  6. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest

    Hmmm! Wonder how a ring would do for 924MHz to 1188MHz?

    ...Jim Thompson
  7. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    Doesn't a ring oscillator frequency depend a lot on Vcc? That would
    require ppm-level Vcc quiet to deliver ppm-level FM or jitter

  8. John Larkin wrote...
    It depends on the local servo-generated voltage applied to
    the ring oscillator inverters. Ideally the noise on this
    voltage can be quite low, not much more than the voltage
    noise of the servo integrator opamp. Some extra circuitry
    (cascode stages, etc.) may be required to insure high PSRR.

    - Win

  9. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest

    I've done *bipolar* ring VCO's in the past that were
    current-controlled (GPS application, where noise isn't so critical,
    since it's a "correlation" receiver).

    I've sent them an E-mail to see what kind of noise performance they

    ...Jim Thompson
  10. litw

    litw Guest

    Thank you Richard, It's a very versatile and convienent circuit in the
    link. I am actually designing part of an integrated TV tuner chip so I
    may need one like this in the testing in case mine does not work.
    Another issue i didn't mention is that I need to generate precise
    quadrature outputs for image rejection. I believe DDS can make precise
    quadratures but I am not sure how to make this happen at the 90-900M range.

  11. litw

    litw Guest

    Thank you very much Robert, However I am on TSMC.35 cmos and am supposed
    to do this all on chip. I can design a 1.1-2GHz wideband but it will be
    a ring oscillator. I am not quite sure about its noise performance even
    I put it in a PLL with say 5MHz of loop bandwidth, which requires a
    complex fractional-N loop divider for the resolution, it may also be
    sigma-delta to remove the spurs associated. I mean I can do it but i'd
    like to explore some new ideas as suggested by my boss :(
    Another issure, two oscillators may talk to each other secretly that we
    cannot control. In this case say if I want a 90M, the first oscillates
    at 1.09G amd the other one at 1G. I don't know how the realistic would
    be. I guess current simulators do not know how to find the coupling
    between these two on chip.
  12. litw

    litw Guest

    Hi Mike,
    :( Unfortunately I am working on TSMC.35, which has neither good
    inductor or good ring oscillator :( It even does not have an inductor
    model. I have to manually use Asitic to calculate the inductance i draw.

    I saw some of Hajimiri's paper however under this technology the
    improments I can make is very limited too. I suppose you are referring
    his paper on June 1999 JSSC. I am trying to understand... It's pretty long.

    In the spectre when i work with a PLL, if i want to find the output
    phase noise, I have no good methods. the PSS won't work since the PLL is
    not a periodic. Recenly they provided QPSS but it has no documentation
    at all. I may be able to find the jitter from *very* precise therefore
    slow transient simulations and try to convert to phase noise, but
    according to your comments, they are not directed related. So how did
    you guys simulate the performance of a PLL, besides using macromodel
    level approach?

  13. litw

    litw Guest

    why not an LC? This freqency range is easy to cover with even a PMOS
  14. litw

    litw Guest

    DDS low pass filter, I have no experience but I guess it needs to filter
    out the quantization noise which is white and depends on the resolution
    of the DAC. What's the challenge you face in this part? I am interested.
  15. litw

    litw Guest

    Do you mean a current-starving ring oscillator? Invertors are hooked to
    current sources instead of directly VCC and gnd?
  16. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest

    PECL (bipolar)

    ...Jim Thompson
  17. Mike

    Mike Guest

    I find the jitter of my VCO using a slow transient simulation. Since it's
    only the VCO, the simulation goes much faster than a full PLL. Then, I plug
    that result into a mathematical model, along with the other noise sources,
    to estimate the jitter of the closed loop PLL. McNeill, "Jitter in Ring
    Oscillators," JSSC, 1997, provides a basic model.

    I said that jitter is related to the integral of phase noise, not that they
    aren't directly related. In fact, they are directly related, but if the
    only thing you know is the total jitter of your PLL, there's no way to
    reliably reconstruct the power spectrum.

    -- Mike --
  18. John Miles

    John Miles Guest

    Your phase-noise spec isn't very aggressive, so the easiest solution for
    you will be to generate your tunable signal at, say, 1-2 GHz, and mix it
    with a fixed source at 2 GHz to get your DC-1 Ghz output range. I would
    not monkey around with a bank of subband oscillators and filters unless
    I needed much better noise performance than you do.

    (You could mix with a 1 GHz source, if you don't mind the 1 GHz source
    bleeding through into your output signal. It will be difficult to
    eliminate a 1 GHz internal signal from the output of a synthesizer that
    needs to cover 900 MHz. A 2 GHz source will put your unwanted mixing
    product in the 3-4 GHz range, which is trivial to filter out, at the
    cost of a few dB of noise.)

    A suitable main VCO would be the Mini-Circuits ROS-2150VW (970-2150 MHz
    coverage, around US $30.00 each in small quantities). Your fixed 2 GHz
    source could use an ROS-2000 (rated at -100 dBc/Hz at 10 kHz offsets).
    At $10, the MCA1-42MH looks like a good candidate for the mixer.

    You don't say what tuning step size you need, but the hybrid synthesizer
    project at will give you 1-Hz
    precision between 1 and 2 GHz. Mix that with a 2-GHz synthesizer and
    you have a very handy DC-1 GHz source.

    -- jm
  19. John Miles

    John Miles Guest

    Sorry, I didn't see all the other replies due to a glitch in the foul
    Matrix that is my newsreader. Never mind, please disregard. :)

    -- jm
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