Despite the common belief that substantial capacity gains can be achieved by using more antennas at the base-station (BS) side in cellular networks, the effect of BS antenna topology on the capacity scaling behavior is little understood. In this paper, we present a comparative study on the ergodic capacity of a downlink single-user multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) system where BS antennas are either co-located at the center or grouped into uniformly distributed antenna clusters in a circular cell. By assuming that the number of BS antennas and the number of user antennas go to infinity with a fixed ratio $L\gg 1$, the asymptotic analysis reveals that the average per-antenna capacities in both cases logarithmically increase with $L$, but in the orders of $\log_2 L$ and $\tfrac{\alpha}{2}\log_2 L$, for the co-located and distributed BS antenna layouts, respectively, where $\alpha>2$ denotes the path-loss factor. The analysis is further extended to the multi-user case where a 1-tier (7-cell) MIMO cellular network with $K\gg 1$ uniformly distributed users in each cell is considered. By assuming that the number of BS antennas and the number of user antennas go to infinity with a fixed ratio $L\gg K$, an asymptotic analysis is presented on the downlink rate performance with block diagonalization (BD) adopted at each BS. It is shown that the average per-antenna rates with the co-located and distributed BS antenna layouts scale in the orders of $\log_2 \tfrac{L}{K}$ and $\log_2 \frac{(L-K+1)^{\alpha/2}}{K}$, respectively. The rate performance of MIMO cellular networks with small cells is also discussed, which highlights the importance of employing a large number of distributed BS antennas for the next-generation cellular networks.

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