PolarBear: A 28-nm FD-SOI ASIC for Decoding of Polar Codes
IEEE Journal on Emerging and Selected Topics in Circuits and Systems
Polar codes are a recently proposed class of block codes that provably achieve the capacity of various communication channels. They received a lot of attention as they can do so with low-complexity encoding and decoding algorithms, and they have an explicit construction. Their recent inclusion in a 5G communication standard will only spur more research. However, only a couple of ASICs featuring decoders for polar codes were fabricated, and none of them implements a list-based decoding
... In this paper, we present ASIC measurement results for a fabricated 28 nm CMOS chip that implements two different decoders: the first decoder is tailored toward error-correction performance and flexibility. It supports any code rate as well as three different decoding algorithms: successive cancellation (SC), SC flip and SC list (SCL). The flexible decoder can also decode both non-systematic and systematic polar codes. The second decoder targets speed and energy efficiency. We present measurement results for the first silicon-proven SCL decoder, where its coded throughput is shown to be of 306.8 Mbps with a latency of 3.34 us and an energy per bit of 418.3 pJ/bit at a clock frequency of 721 MHz for a supply of 1.3 V. The energy per bit drops down to 178.1 pJ/bit with a more modest clock frequency of 308 MHz, lower throughput of 130.9 Mbps and a reduced supply voltage of 0.9 V. For the other two operating modes, the energy per bit is shown to be of approximately 95 pJ/bit. The less flexible high-throughput unrolled decoder can achieve a coded throughput of 9.2 Gbps and a latency of 628 ns for a measured energy per bit of 1.15 pJ/bit at 451 MHz.