MPT Inc. – Microwave Products and Technology

Essentials of Digital Beamforming Phased Arrays

In this post, I describe some of the essential information you need to know about digital beamforming, the advantages and basic architecture. With these essentials, you can make better decisions about your phased array needs.

Digital beamforming offers multiple advantages over analog beamforming. While the list of benefits is quite long, here are four of them:

1. Allows multiple simultaneous antenna beams to track several targets (for radar) or to communicate with several satellites (for LEO satellites).

2. Allows for super resolution for beam position control since it is done with high precision digital control rather than course steps using analog control.

3. Allows for precise side lobe level control which is useful in multimode radar and in minimizing spill over in communication systems.

4. Allows for dynamic control of antenna null patterns which can be used to minimize the effect of interfering or jamming signals.

These benefits and others make digital beamforming attractive for phased array systems.

            The obvious question that you should be asking is: What is a digital beamforming phased array? To help answer this question, look at the image below. It shows the basic architecture of a digital beamforming phased array. The first thing to notice is that the digital receiver/exciter (DRX) exists at each element in the
array in this architecture. This means that data converters are needed at each element in the array. The analog front end is shown in the figure as transmit receive modules.

However, in some cases, it can be as simple as a duplexer connection to the antenna (such as a switch, circulator, or diplexer), high power amplifier, and low noise amplifier. In any case, the digital beamforming
phased array uses DRX units at each element with reduced complexity analog front-end units. This is because the analog front end no longer needs to contain phase shifters. The result is an architecture that allows for multiple simultaneous antenna beams.

            If you would like to know more about how MPT can supply your next phased array solution, then reach out to us today: or (951) 252-6336.