In this paper, an analytical performance study for multi-antenna Cognitive Radio (CR) systems is presented. The two most popular CR approaches, namely, the interweave and underlay system designs, are considered and based on the derived analytical framework, a throughput-based comparison of these two system designs is presented. The system parameters are selected such that a quality of service (QoS) constraint on primary communication, is satisfied. Closed form expressions for the outage probability at the Primary User (PU), as well as expressions for the ergodic rate of the Secondary User (SU) are derived, for both system designs. The derived expressions are functions of key design parameters, such as the sensing time and the detection threshold in the case of interweave CR, and the maximum allowable interference power received by the PU, in the case of underlay CR.
Based on the derived expressions, for interweave CR, the sensing parameters, i.e., sensing time and energy detection threshold, are optimized such as to maximize the secondary system rate. By comparing the throughput performance for both system designs, the existence of specific regimes (in terms of primary activity, number of transmit and receive antennas as well as the outage probability of the PU), where one CR approach outperforms the other, is highlighted.