Skip to Main Content
We compare two block transmission systems over frequency-selective fading channels: orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) versus single-carrier modulated blocks with zero padding (ZP). We first compare their peak-to-average power ratio (PAR) and the corresponding power amplifier backoff for phase-shift keying or quadrature amplitude modulation. Then, we study the effects of carrier frequency offset on their performance and throughput. We further compare the performance and complexity of uncoded and coded transmissions over random dispersive channels, including Rayleigh fading channels, as well as practical HIPERLAN/2 indoor and outdoor channels. We establish that unlike OFDM, uncoded block transmissions with ZP enjoy maximum diversity and coding gains within the class of linearly precoded block transmissions. Analysis and computer simulations confirm the considerable edge of ZP-only in terms of PAR, robustness to carrier frequency offset, and uncoded performance, at the price of slightly increased complexity. In the coded case, ZP is preferable when the code rate is high (e.g., 3/4), while coded OFDM is to be preferred in terms of both performance and complexity when the code rate is low (e.g., 1/2) and the error-correcting capability is enhanced. As ZP block transmissions can approximate serial single-carrier systems as well, the scope of the present comparison is broader.