SFDR or Spurious free dynamic range

Someone asked a question about the significance of the SFDR. The answer to the question was as follows. ( For experienced receiver designers this is old hat of course.)

The SFDR is a specification which allows a reviewer to gauge the range of input/output signals that a receiver can handle while still in a linear range of operation.

The basic mathematical definition is:

SFDR = (2/3) x (IP3 – Noise floor)

The noise floor is defined as:

Pn(output) = kTBGF.

Where k = Boltzman’s constant
T = Absolute temperature
IP3 = Third order intercept point at the output
G = Gain of the system
F = Noise factor.

Using this definition the SFDR can be calculated as:

SFDR = (2/3)(IP3 + 174 – 10logB – G – F).

Here the 174 represents the kT noise.

All quantities in dBm.

Thus if IP3 is known and gain is known , the input IP3 is known. The input signal should not exceed this as 3rd order distortion products will emerge from noise beyond this level at the input.

So an obvious conclusion is: Keep IP3 as high as possible and the noise floor as low as possible for high SFDR. Typically IP3 is about 11.6 dB above the 1 dB compression point of an amplifier.

Also it must be stressed that all components in a system, that have the potential of introducing distortion, should be assigned an IP3. Ultimately the final IP3 is the cascade of the individual IP3’s.