# Texas Instruments | Clocking Optimization for RF Sampling Analog-to-Digital Converters | Application notes | Texas Instruments Clocking Optimization for RF Sampling Analog-to-Digital Converters Application notes

```Application Report
SNAA291 – May 2016
Clocking Optimization for RF Sampling
Analog-to-Digital Converters
Brian Wang
ABSTRACT
In many of today’s high-frequency systems, key specifications are achieved with precise optimizations in
the device itself as well as all its peripheral blocks. A thorough understanding and well-designed system
with all these components in mind is necessary to attain the best results. This is especially true in
applications with RF sampling Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADC), where the sampling clock may use
high performance synthesizers to generate very noise high-frequency clock signals. These synthesizers
require careful design for the best integrated noise which directly impacts the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)
performance of the ADC. This application report helps understand these performance specifications, show
how to approach the optimization process, and provides relevant information to help reach the highest
performance levels.
1
The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the ADC is a key specification. A high number for this specification
indicates the ADC can better distinguish the desired input signal from the undesired noise that is also
captured during sampling. There are three main contributors to the SNR of an ADC, the quantization and
thermal noise of the ADC (does not change with input frequency) and the clock jitter (depends on the
frequency). Figure 1 shows an example of an ADC thermal noise of 62.5 dBFs and the SNR of the clock
(with a jitter, tclock_jitter of 50 fs). The SNR of a clock can be derived from knowing the frequency of the signal
and the jitter (discussed in Section 2) with Equation 1:
SNRclock_jitter [dBc] = –20 × log (2π × Finput × tclock_jitter)
(1)
As the figure illustrates, the high SNR of the ADC is maintained for the low input frequencies, but starts to
be dominated by the clock SNR at higher input frequencies.
100
50 fs clock + ADC thermal noise
50 fs clock
90
SNR (dBFs)
80
70
60
50
40
100
1000
Fin (MHz)
10000
D001
Figure 1. ADC and Clock Jitter Contribution to SNR
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Understanding Phase Noise and Jitter and SNR
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Now that the impact of clock jitter to the total SNR when the clock has a jitter of 50 fs is known, look at the
impact of lower performance clock (with higher jitter). As Figure 2 shows, the higher the jitter of the clock,
the more severe the effect of degradation in SNR from the clock performance at higher ADC input
frequencies. Therefore, it is essential to make sure the clock jitter is the lowest possible, and this
specification can be adjusted according to different parameters of a high frequency synthesizer clock
source to achieve the optimal low jitter value.
64
63
62
61
60
59
58
57
56
55
54
10
50 fs clock + ADC thermal noise
60 fs clock + ADC thermal noise
70 fs clock + ADC thermal noise
80 fs clock + ADC thermal noise
100
Sampling Frequency (MHz)
1000
3000
D002
Figure 2. Impact of Different Clock Jitter to Total SNR
2
Understanding Phase Noise and Jitter and SNR
Designing for and finding out the lowest jitter starts from knowing the phase noise of a clock signal from a
synthesizer. In the time domain, an ideal sine-wave clock signal looks like the waveform in the bottom-left
of Figure 3. Realistically, due to the real world imperfections of components of a frequency synthesizer,
there is additional noise which deviates the waveform from its ideal positions. Similarly, the same sinewave converted to the frequency domain is a single pulse at the frequency of oscillation. The noise
addition appears in the form of phase noise (skirts beside the ideal pulse). Low phase noise of a
synthesizer suggests that the signal is cleaner, provides better performance, and ultimately has lower jitter
(discussed in Section 3) to clock the ADC.
Figure 3. Phase Noise in the Frequency and Time Domain
2
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Designing for Lowest Jitter
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Phase noise is defined by the ratio of noise (at an offset frequency from the oscillating signal, with a 1-Hz
bandwidth) to the signal amplitude of the oscillating signal. Integrated noise is essentially the sum of all
the phase noise within a defined range of offset frequencies from the oscillating signal (see Figure 4).
Jitter is derived from Equation 2 using the integrated noise and the frequency of the signal:
t jitter
integrated noise
2Sf
(2)
The integration range selected is important. This is determined by the sampling settings of the ADC. The
bottom range (closer to the oscillating signal) is defined by half of [sampling rate] / [FFT size]. For
example, at a sample rate of 2949.12 MHz and FFT size of 65536, the integration goes down to 22.5 kHz
(see SLYT379 for more information). Thus, the lower this bottom of the integration range, the more the
phase noise at lower offsets matter.
Figure 4. Phase Noise and Jitter Definitions
3
Designing for Lowest Jitter
Now we focus on how to get the lowest possible jitter on the ADC clock source. Figure 5 shows a phase
noise plot with output frequency at 2949.12 MHz. The black line is the closed loop (locked) phase noise
and the red is the open loop (free running VCO) phase noise. Also, the PLL noise is modeled by a flicker
noise component (gray line) and a flat PLL noise floor component (blue line). The sum of the two lines is
the PLL noise. The loop bandwidth (where the phase noise starts to roll off) is around 100-kHz offset. If
this loop bandwidth is low, the VCO noise pushes into the lower offset phase noise, and if the loop
bandwidth is high, it can push the PLL phase noise into the VCO region. Generally, to design a loop filter
for the lowest jitter, the point where the PLL noise model intersects the VCO is the optimal point (around
120 kHz in this example). This loop bandwidth is determined by the loop filter components of a clocking
source, or in this case, an RF synthesizer (integrated PLL + VCO).
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Factors Influencing Jitter
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-60
2949.12 MHz (closed loop)
2949.12 MHz (open loop)
Flicker
Flat
Model
-70
Phase Noise (dBc/Hz)
-80
-90
-100
-110
-120
-130
-140
-150
-160
1k
10k
100k
1M
10M
Offset (Hz)
D003
Figure 5. Sampling Clock of 2949.12 MHz With 58 fs Jitter
4
Factors Influencing Jitter
A phase noise of a synthesizer is mainly a combination of the Phase Locked Loop (PLL) and the Voltage
Controlled Oscillator (VCO). The specification on datasheets that can tell you how low a jitter you are
capable of achieving is the Normalized PLL Noise Floor (PLL Figure of Merit), Normalized PLL Flicker
Noise (changes by 10 dB / dec), and VCO open-loop phase noise in data sheets. The PLL Figure of Merit
and Flicker Noise are described in Equation 3 and Equation 4. From the relation seen in Equation 3, you
can see that doubling fPD essentially decreases the [20 × log] component by 6 dB and increases the [10 ×
log] component by 3 dB, so in total the overall PLL flat noise decreases by 3 dB. This is one of the
aspects that improve the phase noise contributed by the PLL.
PLL Flat Noise
>PLL Figure of Merit @
§ f VCO ·
20 u log ¨
¸
¨ f PD ¸
¹
10 u log f PD
where
•
•
fPD is the phase detector frequency of the synthesizer
fVCO is the voltage controlled oscillator frequency
PLL Flicker Noise @ foffset
>Normalized PLL FlLFNHU 1RLVH@
(3)
§ f
·
u ORJ ¨ VCO ¸ ±
1
GHz
¹
§ f
·
u ORJ ¨ offset ¸
10
kHz
¹
(4)
In Figure 6, the black line is the original phase noise with a 58 fs jitter. But if the PLL phase noise is
worse, as seen in the raised flat portion of the red line, the jitter can go up (78 fs in this example). The
VCO phase noise also makes a big difference. Observe the gray line, a degraded VCO phase noise in this
case, increased the jitter to 110 fs. By choosing a device that has good performance in both these areas
and then designing the loop filter of the synthesizer well for the best phase noise response around the
loop bandwidth, the lowest jitter can be optimized, providing the highest SNR clocking for the ADC.
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Factors Influencing Jitter
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-80
default (jitter = 58 fs)
higher PLL noise (jitter = 78 fs)
higher VCO noise (jitter = 110 fs)
-90
Phase Noise (dBc/Hz)
-100
-110
-120
-130
-140
-150
-160
1k
10k
100k
1M
10M
Offset (Hz)
D004
Figure 6. Phase Noise Contribution from PLL and VCO
There are also considerations for improving the jitter of the synthesizer in the signal amplitude, which
affects the noise floor and thus the jitter caused by higher offsets. This behavior is observed through
Leeson’s equation, where the phase noise level floor level changes by output power with a factor (1 / Ps)
of the signal source. At some point, the noise floor of the clock source will dominate and there is no further
improvement (around 0 dBm from Figure 7). The clock source amplitude should be designed to be at least
this level. Consequently, a synthesizer device with a very low noise floor as well as the capability of higher
output power to reach this noise floor level is desired. As discussed in the earlier section of integration
range for jitter, the higher the upper range, the more of this high offset phase noise will influence the
overall jitter.
-100
sampling clock amplitude = -12 dBm
sampling clock amplitude = -9 dBm
sampling clock amplitude = -6 dBm
sampling clock amplitude = -3 dBm
sampling clock amplitude = 0 dBm
sampling clock amplitude = +3 dBm
Phase Noise (dBc/Hz)
-110
-120
-130
-140
-150
-160
1k
10k
100k
1M
Offset (Hz)
10M
D005
Figure 7. Sampling Clock Amplitude
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References
5
References
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
6
www.ti.com
LMX2582 High Performance, Wideband PLLatinum™ RF Synthesizer with Integrated VCO,
(SNAS680)
LMX2592 High Performance, Wideband PLLatinum™ RF Synthesizer with Integrated VCO,
(SNAS646)
ADC32RF45 Dual-Channel, 14-Bit, 3.0-GSPS, Analog-to-Digital Converter, (SBAS747)
Optimal Clock Sources for GSPS ADCs Design Guide, (TIDU870)
Maximizing SFDR Performance in the GSPS ADC: Spur Sources and Methods of Mitigation,
(SLAA617)
Clock Jitter Analyzed in the Time Domain, Part 1, (SLYT379)
Clock Jitter Analyzed in the Time Domain, Part 2, (SLYT389)
Clock Jitter Analyzed in the Time Domain, Part 3, (SLYT422)
Direct RF Conversion: From Vision to Reality, (SLYY068)
Related Web Sites
RF phase locked loops and synthesizers
• www.ti.com/product/LMX2582
• www.ti.com/product/LMX2592
TI Data Converters
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