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Fixed-complexity sphere decoder (FSD) is one of the most promising techniques for the implementation of multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) detection, with relevant advantages in terms of constant throughput and high flexibility of parallel architecture. The reported works on FSD are mainly based on software level simulations and a few details have been provided on hardware implementation. The authors present the study based on a four-nodes-per-cycle parallel FSD architecture with several examples of VLSI implementation in 4×4 systems with both 16-quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) and 64-QAM modulation and both real and complex signal models. The implementation aspects and details of the architecture are analysed in order to provide a variety of performance-complexity trade-offs. The authors also provide a parallel implementation of log-likelihood-ratio (LLR) generator with optimised algorithm to enhance the proposed FSD architecture to be a soft-input soft-output (SISO) MIMO detector. To the authors best knowledge, this is the first complete VLSI implementation of an FSD based SISO MIMO detector. The implementation results show that the proposed SISO FSD architecture is highly efficient and flexible, making it very suitable for real applications.