NCO IP Core: User Guide

ID 683406
Date 11/06/2017
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3.4. Phase Dithering

All digital sinusoidal synthesizers suffer from the effects of finite precision, which manifests itself as spurs in the spectral representation of the output sinusoid. Because of angular precision limitations, the derived phase of the oscillator tends to be periodic in time and contributes to the presence of spurious frequencies. You can reduce the noise at these frequencies by introducing a random signal of suitable variance into the derived phase, thereby reducing the likelihood of identical values over time. Adding noise into the data path raises the overall noise level within the oscillator, but tends to reduce the noise localization and can provide significant improvement in SFDR.

The extent to which you can reduce spur levels is dependent on many factors. The likelihood of repetition of derived phase values and resulting spurs, for a given angular precision, is closely linked to the ratio of the clock frequency to the desired output frequency. An integral ratio clearly results in high-level spurious frequencies, while an irrational relationship is less likely to result in highly correlated noise at harmonic frequencies.

The Altera NCO IP core allows you to finely tune the variance of the dither sequence for your chosen algorithm, specified precision, and clock frequency to output frequency ratio, and dynamically view the effects on the output spectrum graphically.