Characterization and Measurement of Phase Noise and Jitter

Characterization and Measurement of Phase Noise and Jitter

Timing-related problems associated with signal sources are one of the major bottlenecks in designing highly complex systems. Historically, both digital and analog systems have used jitter as a measure of timing variations. Conversely, phase noise has been exclusively used in RF systems to represent frequency or phase inaccuracy. For both timing and frequency sensitive systems, phase noise measurement remains to be the most accurate method of characterizing all types of signal sources (RF, analog or digital). This short course covers the fundamentals of phase noise and jitter, which ultimately set the limit to PLL performance in applications such as frequency synthesis, serial data communication and clock/data recovery. Simple techniques to model phase noise at the circuit component-level and relate it to the overall phase noise and jitter performance of PLLs are presented. The course will also provide a detailed analysis of the different phase noise measurement techniques along with in-depth noise floor analysis.

Currently Scheduled Course Dates

  • Jan 24, 2011 - Dallas, TX
  • Jan 25, 2011 - Austin, TX

What you'll learn from this course

  • Phase noise representation and relation between phase noise spectrum, power spectral density and frequency spectrum density
  • Types of phase noise and the difference between additive vs. multiplicative noise
  • Impact of phase noise on communication systems (i.e. error vector magnitude (EVM)), and relation between RMS phase error and bit error rate (BER) for various modulation scheme.
  • Phase noise characterization and measurement techniques and equipment
  • Jitter representation (random vs. deterministic) and types (phase jitter, period jitter and cycle-to-cycle jitter)
  • Impact of jitter on communication systems
  • Jitter characterization and measurement techniques and how to map frequency domain phase noise measurement to jitter
  • Detailed examples relating to existing wireless and wireline systems' specifications

Course Prerequisites and Target Audience

  • A basic understanding of communication systems is the only pre-requisite for this course.


  • Phase Noise Representation
    • Phase noise vs. jitter
    • Phase noise in RF oscillators
    • Phase noise definition (random vs. deterministic spurs)
    • Amplitude (AM) noise vs. phase (PM) noise
    • Relation between phase error spectrum, power spectral density and frequency spectrum density
    • Narrowband FM approximation for phase noise
  • Types of Phase Noise
    • Additive noise
      1. Single amplifier (buffer) additive noise
      2. Cascaded noise
    • Multiplicative noise
      1. Phase noise upconversion (AM to PM)
      2. Noise due to VCO tuning gain (Kv) and power supply gain (Ksupply)
  • Phase Noise in PLLs
    • Sources of noises in PLLs
    • Modeling different PLL noise sources and impact on overall phase noise
  • Impact of Phase Nois
    • Close-in phase noise
      1. Relation between RMS phase error (PE) and modulation error (EVM)
      2. Calculating RMS phase error from phase noise spectrum
      3. Impact of RMS PE on bitter error rate (BER) for various modulation schemes
      4. Phase noise impact on OFDM systems
      5. Far-out phase noise impact on receivers and transmitters
  • Phase Noise measurements
    • Direct measurement using spectrum analyzers
      1. Quantifying spectrum analyzer measurement error
    • In-direct measurement method
      1. PLL and phase detector method and its sensitivity
      2. Delay-line discriminator method and its sensitivity
  • Jitter Representation and Types
    • Jitter definition and units
    • Random (unbounded) vs. deterministic (bounded) jitter
    • Jitter Types
      1. Phase (aka accumulated/long term) jitter
      2. Period jitter
      3. Cycle-to-cycle jitter
  • Impact of Jitter
    • BER and eye diagram
    • BER and jitter estimation
  • Jitter Characterization and Measurement
    • Time domain measurement equipment (eye diagram, histogram,, bathtub plot)
    • Frequency domain measurement by mapping phase noise to jitter

Sample slides

Who Should Attend

  • Engineers seeking to understand fundamental PLL designs issues relating to frequency stability and timing jitter.
  • Engineers involved in board-level, circuit-level or system-level design of wireless or wireline systems.
  • Test engineers and technicians involved in phase noise and jitter measurement.
  • Engineers designing PLLs systems or subsystems such as voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs) or reference oscillators (e.g. crystal oscillators)
  • Application and product engineers supporting customers in areas relating to frequency generation. Digital module design engineers

Course Materials

  • A hardcopy of the "Presentation materials" including numerous examples will be included as part of the course.

Instructor's Profile: Prof. Waleed Khalil

Prof. Waleed Khalil received his B.S.E.E. and M.S.E.E degrees from the University of Minnesota in 1992 and 1993, respectively. In 2008, he received his PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from Arizona State University. He is currently serving as an Assistant Professor at the ECE department and the Electro Science Lab, The Ohio State University. He conducts research in digital intensive RF and mm-wave circuits and systems, high performance clocking circuits, GHz A/D and D/A circuits. Prior to joining OSU, Prof. Khalil held various positions in both wireless and wireline groups at Intel Corp. He authored or co-authored 10 issued and several other pending patents, over 30 journal and conference papers and a book chapter on PLL design in nanometer technology. He serves in the technical program committee for the RFIC Symposium and as a research faculty at the Air Force Research Laboratory.

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