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In this paper, we propose a fixed-complexity sphere encoder (FSE) for multi-user multi-input multi-output (MU-MIMO) systems. The proposed FSE accomplishes a scalable tradeoff between performance and complexity. Also, because it has a parallel tree-search structure, the proposed encoder can be easily pipelined, leading to a tremendous reduction in the preceding latency. The complexity of the proposed encoder is also analyzed, and we propose two techniques that reduce it. Simulation and analytical results demonstrate that in a 4 × 4 MU-MIMO system, the proposed FSE requires only 11.5% of the computational complexity needed by the conventional QR decomposition with M-algorithm encoder (QRDM-E). Also, the encoding throughput of the proposed encoder is 7.5 times that of the QRDM-E with tolerable degradation in the BER performance, while achieving the optimum diversity order.