Improving Simultaneous Voice and Data Performance in Bluetooth Systems

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1 Improving Simultaneous Voice and Data Performance in Bluetooth Systems Abstract In the Bluetooth system, isochronous applications, such as voice and audio, are carried by Synchronous Connection Oriented (SCO) links. SCO packets are regularly scheduled every two, four, or six time slots and enjoy preemptive priority over data-bearing Asynchronous Connection-Less (ACL) packets. The residual bandwidth available to simultaneous data services is often insufficient for many types of applications, even under perfect channel conditions. In this paper, we introduce a novel methodology where isochronous audio traffic is carried over ACL links to obtain higher simultaneous data throughputs while strictly adhering to the 64 Kbps isochronous service quality guaranteed by SCO links. Simulation results are presented for a variety of channel conditions verifying that this technique improves both the throughput for data services and the quality of voice services. I. INTRODUCTION Bluetooth enabled devices exchange data and voice with one another over short distances. Application scenarios for Bluetooth include data applications such as file transfers and local area network (LAN) access, as well as audio applications such as streaming music and voice calls, like those defined in the Headset and Cordless Telephone Profiles [1] of the Bluetooth specification [2]. Traditional support for isochronous audio services, such as voice or music delivery, in Bluetooth exacts a heavy toll on the bandwidth available for simultaneous data services. For example, the maximal user throughput supported by Bluetooth is Kbps. However, using traditional audio delivery methods over an ideal loss-less channel, the maximal user throughput available to a data service operating simultaneously with a 64 Kbps voice link is only Kbps, as will be shown later. This means that supporting one voice link, which represents less than 9% of the total available bandwidth, reduces the remaining available link capacity by over 46%. This indicates a large inefficiency and motivates the search for more efficient ways of handling simultaneous voice and data services in realistic Bluetooth channels. Earlier work has focused primarily on the effects of scheduling while considering pure data applications without addressing isochronous requirements [3][4]. In this paper, we introduce the Voice over Asynchronous Connectionless Links (VoACL) methodology that maintains isochronous quality requirements, improves audio fidelity, and most importantly, improves the throughput available to simultaneous data services. The paper is organized as follows; Section B provides an overview of Bluetooth, Sections C and D introduce VoACL and the VoACL algorithms, Section E describes the simulation David Famolari and Farooq Anjum Telcordia Technologies South St, Morristown, NJ environment, Section F presents performance results, and Section G concludes the paper. II. THE BLUETOOTH SYSTEM The Bluetooth system, architecture, and protocols are defined in detail in [2] and expanded on in [5] and [6]. A brief overview is provided here. Upper layer data is passed down to the baseband and radio layers where it is placed in packets and transmitted over the air interface. Information is modulated at a rate of 1 Mbps and transmitted in one of 79 1-MHz channels in the GHz band. Signals are frequency hopped through the 79 channels at the rate of 1600 hops per second with one hop per time slot; making the length of each time slot 625 µsecs. Bluetooth technology is based on a master-slave concept where the master device controls data transmissions through a polling procedure. The master is defined as the device that initiates the connection. A collection of slave devices associated with a single master device is referred to as a piconet. The master dictates packet transmissions within a piconet according to a time-slot process. The channel is divided into time slots that are numbered according to an internal clock running on the master. A time division duplex (TDD) scheme is used where the master and slaves alternatively transmit packets, where even numbered time slots are reserved for master-slave transmissions, while odd numbered time slots are reserved for slave-master transmissions. Bluetooth uses single-slot voice packets and multi-slot data packets that can occupy one, three, or five time slots. During the transmission of a packet the frequency remains constant; so the frequency hop rate equals the packet transmission rate. There are two classes of link-level connections in Bluetooth, each with their own class of allowable baseband packets. Next we describe each of these link-level connection types. Synchronous Connection Oriented (SCO) Links Synchronous Connection Oriented (SCO) links are intended to carry isochronous voice traffic and require that a SCO-type packet occupy every two, four, or six Bluetooth time slots. There are three types of SCO packets defined thus far in the Bluetooth specification namely, HV1, HV2, and HV3 packets 2, which carry 10, 20, and 30 bytes of user information respectively. All SCO packet types occupy one slot length. These values and slot arrangements where chosen to meet an isochronous quality target of 64 Kbps speech. It should be noted that using an HV1 packet type, which requires a 1 This work was supported by Toshiba America Research Inc. (TARI) and the authors would like to thank TARI for their contributions and encouragement. 2 Bluetooth also specifies a dual voice/data packet, called a DV packet, which carries at most 10 bytes of user data along with 10 bytes of voice information. We do not consider DV packets in this work.

2 transmission every second Bluetooth time slot, precludes the use of any other services in that piconet. Three features distinguish SCO links. First, SCO packets enjoy preemptive priority over all other Bluetooth packets used to convey user information. This feature guarantees SCO links a minimum level of access to the channel. Second, SCO packets do not contain a CRC value, are not acknowledged, are never retransmitted, and are never discarded. Packets that are corrupted by channel errors are simply played out as they are received; so bit-errors in SCO packets result in degraded voice quality. Lastly, SCO links do not follow the normal masterslave polling scheme. A slave participating in a SCO connection does not require a poll by the master device before transmitting a SCO packet. Asynchronous Connection-Less (ACL) Links The second class of link-level connections in Bluetooth is Asynchronous Connection-Less (ACL) links. These links employ packets that occupy one, three, and five time slots. ACL packets come in two varieties, a high-rate variety that employs no Forward Error Control (FEC) and a low-rate variety that sacrifices some user information for error resiliency by employing a 2/3 FEC code in its payload. The high-rate ACL packets are referred to as DH1, DH3, and DH5 packets, distinguished by the number of slots they occupy, and carry 27, 183, and 339 bytes of user payload information respectively. The low-rate ACL packets are referred to as DM1, DM3, and DM5 packets, which carry 17, 121, and 224 bytes of user payload respectively. ACL connections are not regularly scheduled and are governed by explicit notification through the master device. Slave devices can only transmit ACL packets when they have been specifically addressed in the preceding master-slave transmission slot. Each ACL packet contains a 16-bit CRC code for error detection. ACL packets require explicit acknowledgement from the receiver and will be retransmitted under a stop-andwait ARQ scheme until they are successfully delivered or reach a system-defined time out value. The simultaneous operation of SCO links with ACL links limits the throughput available to data applications. This is because SCO packets enjoy a preemptive priority over ACL packets and are guaranteed access to every second, fourth, or sixth time slot. An active SCO link precludes the use of fiveslot packets for data-bearing ACL links, leaving only the less efficient one- and three-slot packets. This is an unfavorable situation with respect to active data links. Even using the most data friendly HV3 SCO packets and considering an ideal lossless channel, the maximal bandwidth that can be achieved occurs when one DH3 packet is sent between consecutive HV3 packets. This results in transferring 183 payload bytes every six Bluetooth timeslots, or 3.75 ms, for a total bit rate of Kbps. This is a drop-off of more than 46% from the maximal Bluetooth link rates of Kbps and motivates more efficient techniques for the simultaneous support of data and voice. III. VOACL The VoACL technique improves voice quality while allowing greater simultaneous bit rates, by intelligent scheduling of voice-bearing packets. This flexibility is made possible by the use of ACL links as a voice bearer. Bluetooth typically uses 64 Kbps log PCM voice coding with either A-law or µ-law compression. It maintains 64 Kbps by transmitting 30 bytes every 3.75 ms. VoACL maintains the required 64 kbps by extending the 3.75 ms time horizon to 20 ms and sending 160 voice bytes within that time. A 20 ms frame is a common frame size found in other wireless voice systems such as IS-95 cellular CDMA based systems [7]. In the Bluetooth technology, 20 ms corresponds to exactly 32 time slots. We refer to these 32 slots as a superframe. The goal of VoACL is to use ACL packets to convey voice information at the start of every superframe. ACL packets can carry more information and incur less overhead penalties than SCO packets. VoACL then uses the remainder of the superframe to transmit user data. This frees the piconet link from the preemptive priority of SCO packets and allows simultaneous data services greater access to the medium, which increases data throughputs. Furthermore, voice information sent in this fashion is protected by a CRC code and can be retransmitted in the event of channel errors while maintaining the strict isochronous delivery requirements. Under a SCO voice delivery scheme, voice information is never retransmitted and is always delivered to the audio device regardless of bit errors. However, with VoACL a balance can be struck between offering good quality voice and high throughputs by employing retransmission limits. It should be noted that employing VoACL requires slight buffering at the receiver that will add to the overall delay of the system. IV. VOACL ALGORITHMS The VoACL algorithm will construct an ACL packet from native voice bytes at the start of every superframe. We refer to these packets as VoACL-voice packets, and each one carries 160 voice bytes. Three ACL baseband packet types have sufficient payloads to carry this voice load in a single packet, namely DH5, DM5, and DH3 packets. The DH5 packets, however, offer no benefit over DH3 packets for this type of transaction and waste two baseband slots. Therefore we consider only the cases where VoACL-voice packets are of type DH3 and DM5. We refer to these packets as VoACL- DH3 and VoACL-DM5, respectively. A packet cycle is defined as the minimum number of slots used to convey both an ACL packet and its acknowledgement. This represents the minimum amount of time that must transpire between two consecutive ACL packet transmissions. The packet cycle for 3-slot and 5-slot packets is then four and six slots, respectively. A superframe always begins with the transmission of a VoACL-voice packet. In the VoACL-DH3 case there will be 28 (32-4) slots remaining in the superframe, while the VoACL-DM5 case leaves 26 (32-6) slots. The VoACL

3 algorithm uses these residual slots to provide simultaneous data services. Figure 1 illustrates this concept for both the VoACL- DM5 and VoACL-DH3 cases. Also shown is the traditional SCO voice delivery method using HV3 packets. Packets in Figure 1 labeled V1, V2, etc., denote voicebearing packets, while packets labeled D1, D2, etc., denote data-bearing packets. The baseband packets used to deliver data were chosen to maximize the amount of data transmitted in the superframe. In the simulations that follow we allow for different arrangements of the data-bearing packets. are not dropped, but rather have their contents passed to the audio device, which is how SCO packets are handled. We refer to this case as the delivered case to distinguish it from the normal ACL mode of operation, or dropped case. B. VoACL Data Traffic Any of the ACL baseband packets can be used to carry data information within the VoACL strategy. We specifically address the case where data is carried primarily with DH5, DM5, DH3, and DM3 packet types. These packet types will leave some extra slots at the end of the superframe; the fiveslot packets will leave two-slots in each superframe, while the three-slot packets will leave 4-slots. We choose to fill these residual superframe slots with DH1 packets. V. SIMULATIONS Figure 1: VoACL slot arrangements A. VoACL Voice traffic A variety of scheduling strategies can be employed within the residual superframe slots. We discuss two specific mechanisms that assign a transmission priority to either voice or data traffic. 1. VoACL - Voice Priority Operating in the voice priority mode, lost VoACL-voice packets will be retransmitted until received correctly, or until the superframe ends. This scheduling scheme places a higher priority on delivering voice information than on providing simultaneous data throughputs and will exhaust an entire superframe, if necessary, to deliver a single VoACL-voice packet. This may be a favorable approach when transferring important voice information in bad channels, as it affords at least eight transmission attempts in the case of VoACL-DH3 and five in the case of VoACL-DM5. 2. VoACL Data Priority The data priority scheme places a premium on supporting simultaneous data applications. In this scheme, VoACL-voice packets are not retransmitted and all of the residual superframe slots are devoted to the transfer of data. This ensures that a voice application will not interfere with simultaneous data applications and guarantees a minimum level of access to the medium for data traffic. When a received VoACL-voice packet does not pass the CRC test in the data priority mode, it will not be retransmitted. One way to handle such an instance is to silently discard the packet, and in fact this is what the Bluetooth specification requires for ACL packet types. However, we also explore an alternative fate for corrupted VoACL-voice packets where they We consider a single piconet comprised of a master and a single slave. The master has infinite amounts of native voice and data traffic to send to the slave. We consider a perfect reverse channel such that all acknowledgements are received correctly. This can be justified based on the small size of the return packets used for acknowledgement. The channel was modeled by a bit-error-rate (BER) randomly chosen from a Rayleigh distribution with a fixed parameter. All bits within a single packet were considered to be statistically independent of one another. Since all packet types have the same overheads, we considered only the packet payloads when determining packet losses. A new channel instance was chosen for each Bluetooth packet transmission from the same Rayleigh distribution. The Rayleigh parameter used to generate the distribution was then varied upwards to 10e-4 to simulate a range of channel conditions from ideal (error-free) to highly error-prone. MATLAB was used to simulate each of the different scenarios and all simulation points are the average of 25 trials taken over 3200 slots. VI. RESULTS Figures 2 and 3 show the resulting throughput performance of the data connection when data packets are of DH5 and DM5 type respectively. The x-axis represents the Rayleigh parameter used to represent the channel. The HV3 case represents a traditional SCO link, sending DH3 data packets, and provides a baseline for judging performance. Here we can see that in good channels (small Rayleigh parameters) all VoACL strategies perform better than the standard HV3 voice method. As the channel worsens, however, the VoACL strategy where DH5 packets are used for data begins to under-perform the standard HV3 voice method. This is due to the increased number of data packets that are lost and require retransmission. When DM5 packets are used for data, as in Figure 3, the degrading channel has a less pronounced effect. DM5 packets are more resilient and require fewer retransmissions. The VoACL-DH3 voice priority case exhibits the most dramatic decline in quality because frequent errors in the DH3 VoACLvoice packets consume more superframe slots for voice

4 retransmission. However each of VoACL voice strategies outperforms the baseline HV3 case when data packets are of type DM5. DH3 packets for data transmission will improve throughputs as the channel deteriorates. Figure 2: Data throughput for DH5 data packets Figure 4: Data throughput for DH3 data packets Figure 3: Data throughput for DM5 data packets In Figures 4 and 5 we plot the data throughputs observed when DH3 and DM3 packets are used for data traffic, respectively. In each case the baseline HV3 packets are used with either DH3 data packets, as in Figure 4, or DM3 data packets, as in Figure 5. Both show that when DM5 is used to carry VoACL-voice, there is very little difference between voice and data priority modes. This is due to the improved error rejection capability of DM5 packets relative to DH3 packets. DM5 packets are almost always delivered correctly the first time, and thus there is no perceived difference between the voice and data priority modes. Comparing Figures 2 and 4 we can get a sense of the effect that data packet size has on throughput in the VoACL schemes. Only in very good channels (those with Rayleigh parameters below 2e-4) does it make sense to carry voice traffic on DH5 packets. Since DH5 packets are longer then DH3 packets, they have a higher packet loss rate for a given bit-error rate. Using Figure 5: Data throughput for DM3 data packets We demonstrate the effect that VoACL has on voice quality in Figures 6 and 7. Here the number of corrupted bits delivered to the audio device is shown for each of the voice strategies versus an increasing Rayleigh parameter. The two methods for dealing with corrupted VoACL-voice packets that can no longer be retransmitted, due to either operating in the data priority mode or reaching the end of a superframe, are shown. Figure 6 illustrates the case where these packets are silently discarded, and thus no information is presented to the audio decoder. We represent this case by considering the entire voice payload to be corrupted. Figure 7 illustrates the case where these packets are delivered to the audio device despite the fact that their payloads do not pass a CRC check. However, in this situation we determine the number of bit errors actually present in the payload and consider all the other bits as useful voice information.

5 VII. CONCLUSION Figure 6: Number of voice errors when VoACL-voice packets are discarded In this paper we introduced a series of VoACL algorithms that use the ACL links to provide native voice support to Bluetooth devices. SCO links are traditionally used to deliver native voice and audio, however they require access to the shared medium on a frequent basis and limit the bandwidth, as well as the packet sizes, available to simultaneous data applications. VoACL offers a way to support both isochronous voice and data intensive applications by extending the time horizon and payload requirements so that 160 bytes of voice information is delivered every 32 Bluetooth slots. By using ACL links, VoACL offers a greater degree of scheduling freedom for larger sized packets, which dramatically improves the bandwidth available to simultaneous data applications. Flexible priority assignments between voice and data can be implemented easily in VoACL by allowing a varying number of retransmissions within a superframe. In this sense, we can better blend the isochronous benefits of SCO delivery mechanisms with the greater flexibility and throughputs offered by ACL links. VoACL allows for audio samples to be retransmitted, improving the quality of the audio output, while still adhering to the real-time delivery requirements. Simulation results show a marked reduction in the number of voice bit errors delivered, as well as significant improvements in simultaneous data throughputs, as compared to the standard SCO methods. VoACL, therefore can be an effective tool in improving performance of simultaneous voice and data applications in Bluetooth. REFERENCES Figure 7: Number of voice errors when VoACL-voice packets are delivered Both the figures show that DM5 voice delivery methods deliver excellent quality voice that is significantly better than the standard SCO HV3 delivery method. This is achieved by leveraging the retransmission mechanisms and FEC coding of DM5 packets. The DH3-data priority VoACL method, on the other hand, tends to deliver significantly worse voice quality compared to the baseline HV3 method for all types of channels. This is due to the large number of uncorrectable voice errors that occur within the DH3 VoACL-voice packet. By delivering packets to the audio device despite the fact that they have failed their CRC tests can improve the voice fidelity considerably. Figure 7 shows that the number of errors played out by the audio device in the VoACL-DH3 data priority case are reduced significantly. This technique also further separates the voice-priority techniques from the baseline HV3 method, particularly as the channel conditions deteriorate. [1] Specification of the Bluetooth System, Volume 2, version 1.1, February 22, [2] Specification of the Bluetooth System, Volume 1, version 1.1, February 22, [3] A. Das, A. Ghose, A. Razdan, H. Saran, R. Shorey, Enhancing performance of asynchronous data traffic over the Bluetooth wireless ad-hoc network, IEEE INFOCOM '2001, Alaska, USA, April [4] A. Capone, M. Gerla, R. Kapoor, Efficient polling schemes for Bluetooth piconets, IEEE ICC 01, Helsinki, Finland, June [5] B. Miller and C. Bisdikian. Bluetooth revealed. Prentice Hall, NJ, [6] J. Bray and C.F. Sturman. Bluetooth: Connect without cables. Prentice Hall, NJ, 2001 [7] TIA/EIA/IS A, Physical Layer Standard for cdma2000 Spread Spectrum Systems.

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