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This paper presents the algorithm and VLSI architecture of a configurable tree-searching approach that combines the features of classical depth-first and breadth-first methods. Based on this approach, techniques to reduce complexity while providing both hard and soft outputs decoding are presented. Furthermore, a single programmable parameter allows the user to tradeoff throughput versus BER performance. The proposed multiple-input-multiple-output decoder supports a 4 × 4 64-QAM system and was synthesized with 65-nm CMOS technology at 333 MHz clock frequency. For the hard output scheme the design can achieve an average throughput of 257.8 Mbps at 24 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) with area equivalent to 54.2 Kgates and a power consumption of 7.26 mW. For the soft output scheme it achieves an average throughput of 83.3 Mbps across the SNR range of interest with an area equivalent to 64 Kgates and a power consumption of 11.5 mW.