How to implement convolutional encoder in VHDL

Why we need an encoder


In the communication link, the noise, multipath effect and all the other effects that affect the communication can induce errors on the communication link. In this post, we already addressed the topic introducing the Reed-Solomon encoder.

Here we want to exploit another encoder widely used in communication link: Convolutional Encoder.

After a brief introduction to the Convolutional encoder, we will go to see the thing that interests us the most, I mean the VHDL implementation of a Convolutional Encoder.

Figure 1 – Example of a communication channel

Convolutional Encoder Architecture


When we talk about encoders, we can classify the channel coding in two main categories:





  • Convolutional coding
  • TCM (Trellis Code Modulation)
  • Turbo codes (SCCC or PCCC)
  • Turbo TCM


In this post, we are going to analyze the architecture of the Convolutional Encoder used in DVB-S standard and its implementation in VHDL.

The convolutional encoder is based on a rate 1/2 mother convolutional code with constraint length K = 7 corresponding to 64 trellis states.

The input serial stream is encoded in two branch X and Y with the following polynomial:

  • X output (171 octal)
  • Y output (133 octal)

Figure 2 reports the encoder architecture.

Figure 2 – DVB-S Convolutional Encoder Architecture


VHDL implementation of Convolutional Encoder


Figure 2 shows the classical architecture of a convolutional encoder.

The VHDL implementation is straightforward. Just implement the delay line end the two branches with XOR as below.


library ieee;
use ieee.std_logic_1164.all;

entity conv_encoder is
port (
  i_clk                                   : in  std_logic;
  i_rstb                                  : in  std_logic;
  i_sync_reset                            : in  std_logic;
  i_data_enable                           : in  std_logic;
  i_data                                  : in  std_logic;
  o_data_valid                            : out std_logic;
  o_data_out_x                            : out std_logic;
  o_data_out_y                            : out std_logic);
end conv_encoder;

architecture rtl of conv_encoder is

constant C_XPOLY              : std_logic_vector(5 downto 0) := ("111001");  -- 1 71 oct, first '1' is not computed since is the input
constant C_YPOLY              : std_logic_vector(5 downto 0) := ("011011");  -- 1 33 oct, first '1' is not computed since is the input

signal r_delay                : std_logic_vector(5 downto 0);


p_encoder : process(i_clk,i_rstb)
variable v_x            : std_logic;
variable v_y            : std_logic;
  if(i_rstb='0') then
    o_data_valid     <= '0';
    o_data_out_x     <= '0';
    o_data_out_y     <= '0';
    r_delay          <= (others=>'0');
  elsif(rising_edge(i_clk)) then
    o_data_valid     <= i_data_enable;
    if(i_sync_reset='1') then
      r_delay      <= (others=>'0');
    elsif(i_data_enable='1') then
      r_delay          <= i_data&r_delay(r_delay'length-1 downto 1);
    end if;
    v_x   := i_data;
    v_y   := i_data;
    for i in r_delay'length-1 downto 0 loop
      if(C_XPOLY(i)='1') then
        v_x   := v_x xor r_delay(i);
      end if;
      if(C_YPOLY(i)='1') then
        v_y   := v_y xor r_delay(i);
      end if;
    end loop;
    o_data_out_x     <= v_x;
    o_data_out_y     <= v_y;
  end if;
end process p_encoder;

end rtl;


VHDL Simulation of Convolutional Encoder


In order to verify the VHDL implementation of the convolutional encoder, the best thing is to simulate the VHDL code and compare the encoder output with a reference pattern.

What is the best way to generate a reference I/O pattern?


Matlab or Octave give us the possibility to generate a reference pattern for the convolutional encoder.

Here below an example of Matlab/Octave command used in the generation of the reference matching vector:

clear all;

NumBit = 1000;

trellis = poly2trellis(7,[171 133]);

dataIn = randi([0 1],NumBit,1);

% Convolutionally encode the data
dataEnc = convenc(dataIn,trellis);

dataEnc = convenc(dataIn,trellis);

fid = fopen("ConvEnc.txt",'wt');
for i = 1 : NumBit
  fprintf(fid,'%4d%4d%4d \n',dataIn(i), dataEnc(2*i-1), dataEnc(2*i));



Figure 3 – ModelSim simulation of Convolutional Encoder VHDL code

In Figure 3, the yellow “error_flag” signal is used to simplify the matching between the output of the Convolutional Encoder VHDL module and the reference Matlab test vector.

The input and output data to the convolutional encoder is read from the reference file and run-time verified during the VHDL simulation.


Layout of Convolutional Encoder


Figure 4 reports the RTL view of the VHDL code presented above.

In the figure is highlighted the XOR function for X and Y branch.


Figure 4 – RTL view of Convolutional Encoder VHDL code




In this post, we have presented the convolutional encoder general architecture. A VHDL example of a Convolutional encoder has been tailored to the general architecture.

The Matlab/Octave script provided can be used to generate reference vector for VHDL matching.








[6] “Channel coding: Convolutional codes” Vahid Meghdadi, University of Limoges

[7] Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB); Framing structure, channel coding and modulation for 11/12 GHz satellite services EN 300 421 V1.1.2



3 thoughts to “How to implement convolutional encoder in VHDL”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *