Massive MIMO Systems with Non-Ideal Hardware: Energy Efficiency, Estimation, and Capacity Limits

Publication Type:

Journal Article


IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, Volume 60, Issue 11, p.7112-7139 (2014)


The use of large-scale antenna arrays can bring substantial improvements in energy and/or spectral efficiency to wireless systems due to the greatly improved spatial resolution and array gain. Recent works in the field of massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) show that the user channels decorrelate when the number of antennas at the base stations (BSs) increases, thus strong signal gains are achievable with little inter-user interference. Since these results rely on asymptotics, it is important to investigate whether the conventional system models are reasonable in this asymptotic regime. This paper considers a new system model that incorporates general transceiver hardware impairments at both the BSs (equipped with large antenna arrays) and the single-antenna user equipments (UEs). As opposed to the conventional case of ideal hardware, we show that hardware impairments create finite ceilings on the channel estimation accuracy and on the downlink/uplink capacity of each UE. Surprisingly, the capacity is mainly limited by the hardware at the UE, while the impact of impairments in the large-scale arrays vanishes asymptotically and inter-user interference (in particular, pilot contamination) becomes negligible. Furthermore, we prove that the huge degrees of freedom offered by massive MIMO can be used to reduce the transmit power and/or to tolerate larger hardware impairments, which allows for the use of inexpensive and energy-efficient antenna elements.

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