T 1751/08 () of 20.10.2011

European Case Law Identifier: ECLI:EP:BA:2011:T175108.20111020
Date of decision: 20 October 2011
Case number: T 1751/08
Application number: 03022637.7
IPC class: H03M 13/11
H03M 13/25
H04L 27/18
H04L 27/34
Language of proceedings: EN
Distribution: D
Download and more information:
Decision text in EN (PDF, 69.632K)
Documentation of the appeal procedure can be found in the Register
Bibliographic information is available in: EN
Versions: Unpublished
Title of application: Variable modulation with LDPC (low density parity check) coding
Applicant name: Broadcom Corporation
Opponent name: -
Board: 3.5.02
Headnote: -
Relevant legal provisions:
European Patent Convention Art 84
European Patent Convention Art 123(2)
European Patent Convention Art 56
Keywords: Clarity and support by the description (yes - after amendment)
Inventive step (yes)
Catchwords:

-

Cited decisions:
-
Citing decisions:
-

Summary of Facts and Submissions

I. The appellant (applicant) appealed against the decision of the examining division refusing European patent application No. 03 022 637.7.

II. In the contested decision, the examining division found, inter alia, that claim 1 of the main request filed at the oral proceedings held on 7 November 2007 lacked support according to Article 84 EPC.

III. In a communication dated 25 May 2011 summoning the appellant to oral proceedings, the Board addressed a number of issues concerning the appellant's request filed with the statement of grounds of appeal and referred, inter alia, to the following prior art:

D8: B. Myhre et al.: "LDPC Coded Adaptive Multilevel Modulation for Slowly Varying Rayleigh-Fading Channels", Proc. of IEEE Norwegian Symposium on Signal Processing, pages 129 to 134, Trondheim, Norway, Oct. 18 - 20, 2001;

D9: U. Wachsmann et al.: "Multilevel Codes: Theoretical Concepts and Practical Design Rules", IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, Vol. 45, No. 5, July 1999, pages 1361 to 1391.

IV. Oral proceedings were held before the Board on 20 October 2011.

V. The appellant requested that the decision under appeal be set aside and that a patent be granted on the basis of the single claim of the new main request filed at the oral proceedings.

VI. The single claim of the appellant's request reads as follows:

"An encoder that performs both LDPC (Low Density Parity Check) encoding and modulation encoding on a binary sequence to generate an LDPC coded modulation signal, the encoder comprising:

an LDPC encoder that performs LDPC coding on the binary sequence to generate an LDPC codeword that includes a plurality of LDPC coded bits;

said LDPC coding having 64800 variable nodes, the first 4320 of said variable nodes having a degree 13, the residual variable nodes having a degree of three or less,

a S/P (serial to parallel) mapping functional block adapted to divide the LDPC codeword into 3 paths; whereby the second n bits of the plurality of LDPC coded bits of the LDPC codeword are provided to a first path of the 3 paths; the last n bits of the plurality of LDPC coded bits of the LDPC codeword are provided to a second path of the 3 paths; and the first n bits of the plurality of LDPC coded bits of the LDPC codeword are provided to a third path of the 3 paths,

wherein the LDPC coded bits of said LDPC codeword, which are output from the three paths, are grouped together to form one LDPC coded symbol; such that each LDPC coded bit forms part of one of a plurality of the LDPC coded symbols,

wherein the bits from the first path represent the most significant bit "MSB" of each symbol, the bits from the second path represent the inside significant bit "ISB" of each symbol, and the bits from the third path represent the least significant bit "LSB" of each symbol,

characterized by

two modulation encoders being adapted to operate cooperatively such that each modulation encoder receives the LDPC coded symbols according to a predetermined cycle,

said predetermined cycle being performed as follows:

the first 4320 symbols and the odd symbols formed thereafter are provided to a first modulation encoder,

the even symbols after the first 4320 symbols are provided to a second modulation encoder,

wherein each modulation encoder performs modulation encoding on the LDPC coded symbols that it receives thereby generating corresponding pluralities of LDPC coded modulation symbols;

each modulation encoder being operable to perform a different modulation, said modulations having a fixed constellation shape but different constellation mappings;

wherein the first modulation encoder is adapted to perform the mapping (0) as specified in Figure 19A; and the second modulation encoder is adapted to perform the mapping (8) as specified in Figure 21A,

the encoder being adapted to output the code modulation symbols from the modulation encoders as a signal sequence to form the LDPC coded modulation signal that is a variable modulation signal."

VII. The appellant essentially argued that the single claim was limited to the embodiment of the invention shown in Figure 22 and thus found full support in the application as filed (Article 84 EPC). In particular, the claim now comprised a specific combination of LDPC encoding and modulation encoding based on two predetermined maps. As shown in the application, using two separate mappings for modulation encoding according to the cycle recited in the claim provided for a significant improvement in the encoder's performance.

There was no suggestion in the prior art that it could be advantageous to perform modulation encoding on an LDPC codeword by switching between a first map and a second map on a symbol by symbol basis after coding a first set of high-degree variable nodes with the first map. Just on the basis of general hints in the prior art that under certain circumstances it might be useful to change constellation and/or mapping, the skilled person would have had no incentive to develop the particular combination of LDPC encoding and modulation encoding recited in the claim.

Hence, the subject-matter of the claim involved an inventive step within the meaning of Article 56 EPC.

Reasons for the Decision

1. The appeal is admissible.

Article 84 and Article 123(2) EPC

2.1 The claim according to the appellant's request relates essentially to an encoder that performs both LDPC (Low Density Parity Check) encoding and modulation encoding on a binary sequence to generate an LDPC coded modulation signal. It comprises the following features:

(a) an LDPC encoder that performs LDPC coding on the binary sequence to generate an LDPC codeword that includes a plurality of LDPC coded bits;

(b) said LDPC coding having 64800 variable nodes, the first 4320 of said variable nodes having a degree 13, the residual variable nodes having a degree of three or less,

(c) a S/P (serial to parallel) mapping functional block adapted to divide the LDPC codeword into 3 paths; whereby the second n bits of the plurality of LDPC coded bits of the LDPC codeword are provided to a first path of the 3 paths; the last n bits of the plurality of LDPC coded bits of the LDPC codeword are provided to a second path of the 3 paths; and the first n bits of the plurality of LDPC coded bits of the LDPC codeword are provided to a third path of the 3 paths,

(d) wherein the LDPC coded bits of said LDPC codeword, which are output from the three paths, are grouped together to form one LDPC coded symbol; such that each LDPC coded bit forms part of one of a plurality of the LDPC coded symbols,

(e) wherein the bits from the first path represent the most significant bit "MSB" of each symbol, the bits from the second path represent the inside significant bit "ISB" of each symbol, and the bits from the third path represent the least significant bit "LSB" of each symbol,

(f) two modulation encoders being adapted to operate cooperatively such that each modulation encoder receives the LDPC coded symbols according to a predetermined cycle,

(g) said predetermined cycle being performed as follows:

the first 4320 symbols and the odd symbols formed thereafter are provided to a first modulation encoder,

the even symbols after the first 4320 symbols are provided to a second modulation encoder,

(h) wherein each modulation encoder performs modulation encoding on the LDPC coded symbols that it receives thereby generating corresponding pluralities of LDPC coded modulation symbols;

(i) each modulation encoder being operable to perform a different modulation, said modulations having a fixed constellation shape but different constellation mappings;

(j) wherein the first modulation encoder is adapted to perform the mapping (0) as specified in Figure 19A; and the second modulation encoder is adapted to perform the mapping (8) as specified in Figure 21A,

(k) the encoder being adapted to output the coded modulation symbols from the modulation encoders as a signal sequence to form the LDPC coded modulation signal that is a variable modulation signal.

2.2 The description as originally filed (page 59, lines 4 to 8) specifies that the "variable modulation characteristics of the invention may also be applied and further explored when considering the LDPC coded modulation used in the HNS proposal to the DVB standard. That particular LDPC code has 64800 variable nodes with 4320 degree 13 nodes broken down as follows: 38880 degree 3 nodes, 21599 degree 2 nodes, and 1 degree 1 node".

Feature (b) of the appellant's claim identifies the code only by specifying that it has 64800 variable nodes, of which the first 4320 have degree 13 and the rest a degree of 3 or less. Thus, the claim relies on a more general definition of an LDPC code, as it does not specify the degree of all nodes and does not identify it as the LDPC code used in the HNS proposal to the DVB standard.

In the Board's opinion, such generalisation is admissible in the present case since, as convincingly explained by the appellant and shown below, a skilled person reading the application realizes that the effect achieved by varying the modulation of the LDPC coded symbols according to the claim does not depend on the use of a particular LDPC code but essentially on the fact that the first 4320 variable nodes of the code have a degree (13) which is much higher than the degrees of the remaining variable nodes.

2.3 As to the other features of the claim, they are fully supported by the embodiment shown in Figure 22 and by the corresponding passages of the description (page 59, line 26 to page 61, line 3).

2.4 In summary, the subject-matter of the claim corresponds essentially to the embodiment shown in Figure 22 of the application as originally filed and the claim recites all the essential features of this embodiment in a sufficiently clear and concise manner.

2.5 Hence, the claim of the appellant's request is admissible under Article 123(2) EPC and satisfies the requirements of Article 84 EPC.

Articles 54 and 56 EPC

3.1 Figures 19A to 21B are diagrams showing 12 different Gray maps of an 8 PSK signal constellation which can be used to encode groups of three bits of an LDPC codeword. As explained on page 58 of the description as originally filed (lines 15 to 24), the "operation of such coding may be described when considering a map, indicated as Mapi, and the two symbols (a2,a1,a0) and (b2,b1,b0). If a2 = b2 and a1 = b1, but a0 not equal b0, and also if Mapi(a2,a1,a0) and Mapi (b2,b1,b0) are two consecutive numbers, then the map may be characterized as having 1 weak point at the LSB (Least Significant Bit). Similarly, a weak point at the MSB (Most Significant Bit) and a weak point at the ISB (Inside Significant Bit) may be defined. For example, a weak point at the MSB may be defined as follows: if a2 not equal b2 and a1 = b1, but a0 = b0, and also if Mapi(a2,a1,a0) and Mapi (b2,b1,b0) are two consecutive numbers. Also, a weak point at the ISB may be defined as follows: a2 = b2 and a1 not equal b1, but a0 = b0, and also if Mapi(a2,a1,a0) and Mapi (b2,b1,b0) are two consecutive numbers."

As pointed out in the description (page 59, lines 8 to 14), the S/P (Serial-to-Parallel) map of the HNS proposal to the DVB standard, which corresponds to Map (4) shown in Figure 20A, has a number of weak points (four) at the LSB which is higher than the number of weak points at the ISB and MSB.

This "particular map will still provide a relatively high degree of performance to the first 4320 symbols since the LSB of these symbols are degree 13 nodes, which are therefore strongly protected by the corresponding check nodes. However, the remaining 17280 symbols (which include a full 80% of all of the symbols) have both MSB and LSB of only degree 3.

Obviously, the LSB bit is much less protected. Therefore, when the information data is a PN (Pseudo-Noise) sequence, which has 1s and 0s evenly distributed in the block, the code behaves sufficiently well. Otherwise, it behaves much worse" (application as originally filed, page 59, line 14 to 25).

3.2 In order to overcome the above problem, the present application proposes an encoder which, as recited in the claim, comprises two modulation encoders performing mapping according to a predetermined cycle and on the basis of two different maps. In particular, the first 4320 variable nodes with degree 13 are used as the LSB of the three-bit groups to be mapped. The first corresponding 4320 symbols encoded with map (0), which has four weak points at the LSB, two at the ISB and two at the MSB, are well-protected. However, the remaining bits of the codeword to be mapped have all the same degree 3 or lower than 3. In order to "spread" more evenly the weak points over the bits of the LDPC coded symbols following the first 4320 symbols, the claimed encoder changes the mapping on a symbol by symbol basis using alternatively a map (i.e. map (0) of figure 19A) with four weak points at the LSB and a map (map (8) of Figure 21A) with four weak points at the MSB.

3.3 The appellant has convincingly argued that using these two separate mappings according to the cycle recited in the claim instead of a single mapping significantly improves the encoder's performance, as shown in the application. Furthermore, this result did not depend on the particular code referred to in the description but only on the fact that the LDPC code had 64800 variable nodes of which 4320 were of degree 13 and the remaining of degree 3 and less. The Board sees no reason to doubt the appellant's assertions.

3.4 It is known in the art that the performance of digital transmission schemes can be improved by jointly optimizing coding and modulation (cf. D9, "Introduction"). It is also known to change mapping during transmission of LDPC coded bits to take into account the characteristics of the transmission channel and/or the transmission requirements of the user (cf. D8, "Abstract" and section 4.).

However, there is no suggestion in the prior art available to the Board that it would be advantageous to use the variable mapping recited in the claim to encode an LDPC codeword as defined in the claim.

3.5 Hence, the subject-matter of the claim is new according to Article 54 and involves an inventive step within the meaning of Article 56 EPC.

4. In the result, the Board finds that the single claim according to the appellant's request satisfies the requirements of the EPC and that a patent can be granted on the basis thereof.

ORDER

For these reasons it is decided that:

1. The decision under appeal is set aside.

2. The case is remitted to the department of first instance with the order to grant a patent on the basis of the single claim of the new main request filed at the oral proceedings of 20 October 2011 and a description and drawings still to be adapted.

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