In electronics, an analog-to-digital converter (ADC, A/D, or A-to-D) is a system that converts an analog signal, such as a sound picked up by a microphone or light entering a digital camera, into a digital signal. An ADC may also provide an isolated measurement such as an electronic device that converts an input analog voltage or current to a digital number representing the magnitude of the voltage or current. Typically the digital output is a two's complement binary number that is proportional to the input, but there are other possibilities.
Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter.
An analog signal is any continuous signal for which the time-varying feature (variable) of the signal is a representation of some other time varying quantity, i.e., analogous to another time varying signal. For example, in an analog audio signal, the instantaneous voltage of the signal varies continuously with the pressure of the sound waves. It differs from a digital signal, in which the continuous quantity is a representation of a sequence of discrete values which can only take on one of a finite number of values. The term analog signal usually refers to electrical signals; however, mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, human speech, and other systems may also convey or be considered analog signals.
A microphone, colloquially named mic or mike, is a device – a transducer – that converts sound into an electrical signal. Microphones are used in many applications such as telephones, hearing aids, public address systems for concert halls and public events, motion picture production, live and recorded audio engineering, sound recording, two-way radios, megaphones, radio and television broadcasting, and in computers for recording voice, speech recognition, VoIP, and for non-acoustic purposes such as ultrasonic sensors or knock sensors.
There are several ADC architectures. Due to the complexity and the need for precisely matched components, all but the most specialized ADCs are implemented as integrated circuits (ICs).
In engineering, hardware architecture refers to the identification of a system's physical components and their interrelationships. This description, often called a hardware design model, allows hardware designers to understand how their components fit into a system architecture and provides to software component designers important information needed for software development and integration. Clear definition of a hardware architecture allows the various traditional engineering disciplines to work more effectively together to develop and manufacture new machines, devices and components.
An electronic component is any basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system used to affect electrons or their associated fields. Electronic components are mostly industrial products, available in a singular form and are not to be confused with electrical elements, which are conceptual abstractions representing idealized electronic components.
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is a set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece of semiconductor material that is normally silicon. The integration of large numbers of tiny transistors into a small chip results in circuits that are orders of magnitude smaller, faster, and less expensive than those constructed of discrete electronic components. The IC's mass production capability, reliability, and building-block approach to circuit design has ensured the rapid adoption of standardized ICs in place of designs using discrete transistors. ICs are now used in virtually all electronic equipment and have revolutionized the world of electronics. Computers, mobile phones, and other digital home appliances are now inextricable parts of the structure of modern societies, made possible by the small size and low cost of ICs.
A digital-to-analog converter (DAC) performs the reverse function; it converts a digital signal into an analog signal.
In electronics, a digital-to-analog converter is a system that converts a digital signal into an analog signal. An analog-to-digital converter (ADC) performs the reverse function.
An ADC converts a continuous-time and continuous-amplitude analog signal to a discrete-time and discrete-amplitude digital signal. The conversion involves quantization of the input, so it necessarily introduces a small amount of error or noise. Furthermore, instead of continuously performing the conversion, an ADC does the conversion periodically, sampling the input, limiting the allowable bandwidth of the input signal.
In the context of digital signal processing (DSP), a digital signal is a discrete-time signal for which not only the time but also the amplitude has discrete values; in other words, its samples take on only values from a discrete set. If that discrete set is finite, the discrete values can be represented with digital words of a finite width. Most commonly, these discrete values are represented as fixed-point words or floating-point words.
Quantization, in mathematics and digital signal processing, is the process of mapping input values from a large set to output values in a (countable) smaller set, often with a finite number of elements. Rounding and truncation are typical examples of quantization processes. Quantization is involved to some degree in nearly all digital signal processing, as the process of representing a signal in digital form ordinarily involves rounding. Quantization also forms the core of essentially all lossy compression algorithms.
In signal processing, sampling is the reduction of a continuous-time signal to a discrete-time signal. A common example is the conversion of a sound wave to a sequence of samples.
The performance of an ADC is primarily characterized by its bandwidth and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). The bandwidth of an ADC is characterized primarily by its sampling rate. The SNR of an ADC is influenced by many factors, including the resolution, linearity and accuracy (how well the quantization levels match the true analog signal), aliasing and jitter. The SNR of an ADC is often summarized in terms of its effective number of bits (ENOB), the number of bits of each measure it returns that are on average not noise. An ideal ADC has an ENOB equal to its resolution. ADCs are chosen to match the bandwidth and required SNR of the signal to be digitized. If an ADC operates at a sampling rate greater than twice the bandwidth of the signal, then per the Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem, perfect reconstruction is possible. The presence of quantization error limits the SNR of even an ideal ADC. However, if the SNR of the ADC exceeds that of the input signal, its effects may be neglected resulting in an essentially perfect digital representation of the analog input signal.
Bandwidth is the difference between the upper and lower frequencies in a continuous band of frequencies. It is typically measured in hertz, and depending on context, may specifically refer to passband bandwidth or baseband bandwidth. Passband bandwidth is the difference between the upper and lower cutoff frequencies of, for example, a band-pass filter, a communication channel, or a signal spectrum. Baseband bandwidth applies to a low-pass filter or baseband signal; the bandwidth is equal to its upper cutoff frequency.
Signal-to-noise ratio is a measure used in science and engineering that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. SNR is defined as the ratio of signal power to the noise power, often expressed in decibels. A ratio higher than 1:1 indicates more signal than noise.
In digital audio using pulse-code modulation (PCM), bit depth is the number of bits of information in each sample, and it directly corresponds to the resolution of each sample. Examples of bit depth include Compact Disc Digital Audio, which uses 16 bits per sample, and DVD-Audio and Blu-ray Disc which can support up to 24 bits per sample.
The resolution of the converter indicates the number of discrete values it can produce over the range of analog values. The resolution determines the magnitude of the quantization error and therefore determines the maximum possible average signal-to-noise ratio for an ideal ADC without the use of oversampling. The values are usually stored electronically in binary form, so the resolution is usually expressed as the audio bit depth. In consequence, the number of discrete values available is assumed to be a power of two. For example, an ADC with a resolution of 8 bits can encode an analog input to one in 256 different levels (28 = 256). The values can represent the ranges from 0 to 255 (i.e. unsigned integer) or from −128 to 127 (i.e. signed integer), depending on the application.
In signal processing, oversampling is the process of sampling a signal at a sampling frequency significantly higher than the Nyquist rate. Theoretically, a bandwidth-limited signal can be perfectly reconstructed if sampled at the Nyquist rate or above it. The Nyquist rate is defined as twice the highest frequency component in the signal. Oversampling is capable of improving resolution and signal-to-noise ratio, and can be helpful in avoiding aliasing and phase distortion by relaxing anti-aliasing filter performance requirements.
Resolution can also be defined electrically, and expressed in volts. The change in voltage required to guarantee a change in the output code level is called the least significant bit (LSB) voltage. The resolution Q of the ADC is equal to the LSB voltage. The voltage resolution of an ADC is equal to its overall voltage measurement range divided by the number of intervals:
where M is the ADC's resolution in bits and EFSR is the full scale voltage range (also called 'span'). EFSR is given by
where VRefHi and VRefLow are the upper and lower extremes, respectively, of the voltages that can be coded.
Normally, the number of voltage intervals is given by
where M is the ADC's resolution in bits.
That is, one voltage interval is assigned in between two consecutive code levels.
In many cases, the useful resolution of a converter is limited by the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and other errors in the overall system expressed as an ENOB.
Quantization error is introduced by quantization in an ideal ADC. It is a rounding error between the analog input voltage to the ADC and the output digitized value. The error is nonlinear and signal-dependent. In an ideal ADC, where the quantization error is uniformly distributed between −1/2 LSB and +1/2 LSB, and the signal has a uniform distribution covering all quantization levels, the Signal-to-quantization-noise ratio (SQNR) is given by
where Q is the number of quantization bits. For example, for a 16-bit ADC, the quantization error is 96.3 dB below the maximum level.
Quantization error is distributed from DC to the Nyquist frequency, consequently if part of the ADC's bandwidth is not used, as is the case with oversampling, some of the quantization error will occur out-of-band, effectively improving the SQNR for the bandwidth in use. In an oversampled system, noise shaping can be used to further increase SQNR by forcing more quantization error out of band.
In ADCs, performance can usually be improved using dither. This is a very small amount of random noise (e.g. white noise), which is added to the input before conversion. Its effect is to randomize the state of the LSB based on the signal. Rather than the signal simply getting cut off altogether at low levels, it extends the effective range of signals that the ADC can convert, at the expense of a slight increase in noise. Note that dither can only increase the resolution of a sampler. It cannot improve the linearity, and thus accuracy does not necessarily improve.
Quantization distortion in an audio signal of very low level with respect to the bit depth of the ADC is correlated with the signal and sounds distorted and unpleasant. With dithering, the distortion is transformed into noise. The undistorted signal may be recovered accurately by averaging over time. Dithering is also used in integrating systems such as electricity meters. Since the values are added together, the dithering produces results that are more exact than the LSB of the analog-to-digital converter.
Dither is often applied when quantizing photographic images to a fewer number of bits per pixel—the image becomes noisier but to the eye looks far more realistic than the quantized image, which otherwise becomes banded. This analogous process may help to visualize the effect of dither on an analogue audio signal that is converted to digital.
An ADC has several sources of errors. Quantization error and (assuming the ADC is intended to be linear) non-linearity are intrinsic to any analog-to-digital conversion. These errors are measured in a unit called the least significant bit (LSB). In the above example of an eight-bit ADC, an error of one LSB is 1/256 of the full signal range, or about 0.4%.
All ADCs suffer from nonlinearity errors caused by their physical imperfections, causing their output to deviate from a linear function (or some other function, in the case of a deliberately nonlinear ADC) of their input. These errors can sometimes be mitigated by calibration, or prevented by testing. Important parameters for linearity are integral nonlinearity and differential nonlinearity. These nonlinearities introduce distortion that can reduce the signal-to-noise ratio performance of the ADC and thus reduce its effective resolution.
When digitizing a sine wave , the use of a non-ideal sampling clock will result in some uncertainty in when samples are recorded. Provided that the actual sampling time uncertainty due to clock jitter is , the error caused by this phenomenon can be estimated as . This will result in additional recorded noise that will reduce the effective number of bits (ENOB) below that predicted by quantization error alone. The error is zero for DC, small at low frequencies, but significant with signals of high amplitude and high frequency. The effect of jitter on performance can be compared to quantization error: , where q is the number of ADC bits.[ citation needed ]
|Output size |
|1 Hz||1 kHz||10 kHz||1 MHz||10 MHz||100 MHz||1 GHz|
|8||1,243 µs||1.24 µs||124 ns||1.24 ns||124 ps||12.4 ps||1.24 ps|
|10||311 µs||311 ns||31.1 ns||311 ps||31.1 ps||3.11 ps||0.31 ps|
|12||77.7 µs||77.7 ns||7.77 ns||77.7 ps||7.77 ps||0.78 ps||0.08 ps ("77.7fs")|
|14||19.4 µs||19.4 ns||1.94 ns||19.4 ps||1.94 ps||0.19 ps||0.02 ps ("19.4fs")|
|16||4.86 µs||4.86 ns||486 ps||4.86 ps||0.49 ps||0.05 ps ("48.5 fs")||–|
|18||1.21 µs||1.21 ns||121 ps||1.21 ps||0.12 ps||–||–|
|20||304 ns||304 ps||30.4 ps||0.30 ps ("303.56 fs")||0.03 ps ("30.3 fs")||–||–|
|24||18.9 ns||18.9 ps||1.89 ps||0.019 ps ("18.9 fs")||-||–||–|
Clock jitter is caused by phase noise. MHz and 1 GHz is limited by jitter. For lower bandwidth conversions such as when sampling audio signals at 44.1 kHz, clock jitter has a less significant impact on performance.The resolution of ADCs with a digitization bandwidth between 1
The analog signal is continuous in time and it is necessary to convert this to a flow of digital values. It is therefore required to define the rate at which new digital values are sampled from the analog signal. The rate of new values is called the sampling rate or sampling frequency of the converter. A continuously varying bandlimited signal can be sampled and then the original signal can be reproduced from the discrete-time values by a reconstruction filter. The Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem implies that a faithful reproduction of the original signal is only possible if the sampling rate is higher than twice the highest frequency of the signal.
Since a practical ADC cannot make an instantaneous conversion, the input value must necessarily be held constant during the time that the converter performs a conversion (called the conversion time). An input circuit called a sample and hold performs this task—in most cases by using a capacitor to store the analog voltage at the input, and using an electronic switch or gate to disconnect the capacitor from the input. Many ADC integrated circuits include the sample and hold subsystem internally.
An ADC works by sampling the value of the input at discrete intervals in time. Provided that the input is sampled above the Nyquist rate, defined as twice the highest frequency of interest, then all frequencies in the signal can be reconstructed. If frequencies above half the Nyquist rate are sampled, they are incorrectly detected as lower frequencies, a process referred to as aliasing. Aliasing occurs because instantaneously sampling a function at two or fewer times per cycle results in missed cycles, and therefore the appearance of an incorrectly lower frequency. For example, a 2 kHz sine wave being sampled at 1.5 kHz would be reconstructed as a 500 Hz sine wave.
To avoid aliasing, the input to an ADC must be low-pass filtered to remove frequencies above half the sampling rate. This filter is called an anti-aliasing filter , and is essential for a practical ADC system that is applied to analog signals with higher frequency content. In applications where protection against aliasing is essential, oversampling may be used to greatly reduce or even eliminate it. Although aliasing in most systems is unwanted, it should also be noted that it can be exploited to provide simultaneous down-mixing of a band-limited high frequency signal (see undersampling and frequency mixer). The alias is effectively the lower heterodyne of the signal frequency and sampling frequency.
Signals are often sampled at the minimum rate required, for economy, with the result that the quantization noise introduced is white noise spread over the whole pass band of the converter. If a signal is sampled at a rate much higher than the Nyquist rate and then digitally filtered to limit it to the signal bandwidth there are the following advantages:
Oversampling is typically used in audio frequency ADCs where the required sampling rate (typically 44.1 or 48 kHz) is very low compared to the clock speed of typical transistor circuits (>1 MHz). In this case, by using the extra bandwidth to distribute quantization error onto out of band frequencies, the accuracy of the ADC can be greatly increased at no cost. Furthermore, as any aliased signals are also typically out of band, aliasing can often be completely eliminated using very low cost filters.
The speed of an ADC varies by type. The Wilkinson ADC is limited by the clock rate which is processable by current digital circuits. Currently,[ when? ] frequencies up to 300 MHz are possible. For a successive-approximation ADC, the conversion time scales with the logarithm of the resolution, e.g. the number of bits. Thus for high resolution, it is possible that the successive-approximation ADC is faster than the Wilkinson. However, the time consuming steps in the Wilkinson are digital, while those in the successive-approximation are analog. Since analog is inherently slower than digital[ why? ], as the resolution increases, the time required also increases. Thus there are competing processes at work. Flash ADCs are certainly the fastest type of the three. The conversion is basically performed in a single parallel step. For an 8-bit unit, conversion takes place in a few tens of nanoseconds.
There is, as expected, somewhat of a tradeoff between speed and precision. Flash ADCs have drifts and uncertainties associated with the comparator levels. This results in poor linearity. For successive-approximation ADCs, poor linearity is also present, but less so than for flash ADCs. Here, nonlinearity arises from accumulating errors from the subtraction processes. Wilkinson ADCs have the highest linearity of the three. These have the best differential nonlinearity. The other types require channel smoothing to achieve the level of the Wilkinson.
The sliding scale or randomizing method can be employed to greatly improve the linearity of any type of ADC, but especially flash and successive approximation types. For any ADC the mapping from input voltage to digital output value is not exactly a floor or ceiling function as it should be. Under normal conditions, a pulse of a particular amplitude is always converted to a digital value. The problem lies in that the ranges of analog values for the digitized values are not all of the same width, and the differential linearity decreases proportionally with the divergence from the average width. The sliding scale principle uses an averaging effect to overcome this phenomenon. A random, but known analog voltage is added to the sampled input voltage. It is then converted to digital form, and the equivalent digital amount is subtracted, thus restoring it to its original value. The advantage is that the conversion has taken place at a random point. The statistical distribution of the final levels is decided by a weighted average over a region of the range of the ADC. This in turn desensitizes it to the width of any specific level.
These are the most common ways of implementing an electronic ADC:
A direct-conversion ADC or flash ADC has a bank of comparators sampling the input signal in parallel, each firing for their decoded voltage range. The comparator bank feeds a logic circuit that generates a code for each voltage range. Direct conversion is very fast, capable of gigahertz sampling rates, but usually has only 8 bits of resolution or fewer, since the number of comparators needed, 2N – 1, doubles with each additional bit, requiring a large, expensive circuit. ADCs of this type have a large die size, a high input capacitance, high power dissipation, and are prone to produce glitches at the output (by outputting an out-of-sequence code). Scaling to newer submicrometre technologies does not help as the device mismatch is the dominant design limitation. They are often used for video, wideband communications or other fast signals in optical storage.There are four different types of direct ADCs.
A successive-approximation ADC uses a comparator to successively narrow a range that contains the input voltage. At each successive step, the converter compares the input voltage to the output of an internal digital to analog converter which might represent the midpoint of a selected voltage range. At each step in this process, the approximation is stored in a successive approximation register (SAR). For example, consider an input voltage of 6.3 V and the initial range is 0 to 16 V. For the first step, the input 6.3 V is compared to 8 V (the midpoint of the 0–16 V range). The comparator reports that the input voltage is less than 8 V, so the SAR is updated to narrow the range to 0–8 V. For the second step, the input voltage is compared to 4 V (midpoint of 0–8). The comparator reports the input voltage is above 4 V, so the SAR is updated to reflect the input voltage is in the range 4–8 V. For the third step, the input voltage is compared with 6 V (halfway between 4 V and 8 V); the comparator reports the input voltage is greater than 6 volts, and search range becomes 6–8 V. The steps are continued until the desired resolution is reached.
A ramp-compare ADC produces a saw-tooth signal that ramps up or down then quickly returns to zero. When the ramp starts, a timer starts counting. When the ramp voltage matches the input, a comparator fires, and the timer's value is recorded. Timed ramp converters require the fewest transistors. The ramp time is sensitive to temperature because the circuit generating the ramp is often a simple oscillator. There are two solutions: use a clocked counter driving a DAC and then use the comparator to preserve the counter's value, or calibrate the timed ramp. A special advantage of the ramp-compare system is that comparing a second signal just requires another comparator, and another register to store the voltage value. A very simple (nonlinear) ramp converter can be implemented with a microcontroller and one resistor and capacitor.Vice versa, a filled capacitor can be taken from an integrator, time-to-amplitude converter, phase detector, sample and hold circuit, or peak and hold circuit and discharged. This has the advantage that a slow comparator cannot be disturbed by fast input changes.
The Wilkinson ADC was designed by D. H. Wilkinson in 1950. The Wilkinson ADC is based on the comparison of an input voltage with that produced by a charging capacitor. The capacitor is allowed to charge until its voltage is equal to the amplitude of the input pulse (a comparator determines when this condition has been reached). Then, the capacitor is allowed to discharge linearly, which produces a ramp voltage. At the point when the capacitor begins to discharge, a gate pulse is initiated. The gate pulse remains on until the capacitor is completely discharged. Thus the duration of the gate pulse is directly proportional to the amplitude of the input pulse. This gate pulse operates a linear gate which receives pulses from a high-frequency oscillator clock. While the gate is open, a discrete number of clock pulses pass through the linear gate and are counted by the address register. The time the linear gate is open is proportional to the amplitude of the input pulse, thus the number of clock pulses recorded in the address register is proportional also. Alternatively, the charging of the capacitor could be monitored, rather than the discharge.
An integrating ADC (also dual-slope or multi-slope ADC) applies the unknown input voltage to the input of an integrator and allows the voltage to ramp for a fixed time period (the run-up period). Then a known reference voltage of opposite polarity is applied to the integrator and is allowed to ramp until the integrator output returns to zero (the run-down period). The input voltage is computed as a function of the reference voltage, the constant run-up time period, and the measured run-down time period. The run-down time measurement is usually made in units of the converter's clock, so longer integration times allow for higher resolutions. Likewise, the speed of the converter can be improved by sacrificing resolution. Converters of this type (or variations on the concept) are used in most digital voltmeters for their linearity and flexibility.
A delta-encoded ADC or counter-ramp has an up-down counter that feeds a digital to analog converter (DAC). The input signal and the DAC both go to a comparator. The comparator controls the counter. The circuit uses negative feedback from the comparator to adjust the counter until the DAC's output is close enough to the input signal. The number is read from the counter. Delta converters have very wide ranges and high resolution, but the conversion time is dependent on the input signal level, though it will always have a guaranteed worst-case. Delta converters are often very good choices to read real-world signals. Most signals from physical systems do not change abruptly. Some converters combine the delta and successive approximation approaches; this works especially well when high frequencies are known to be small in magnitude.
A pipelined ADC (also called subranging quantizer) uses two or more steps of subranging. First, a coarse conversion is done. In a second step, the difference to the input signal is determined with a digital to analog converter (DAC). This difference is then converted finer, and the results are combined in a last step. This can be considered a refinement of the successive-approximation ADC wherein the feedback reference signal consists of the interim conversion of a whole range of bits (for example, four bits) rather than just the next-most-significant bit. By combining the merits of the successive approximation and flash ADCs this type is fast, has a high resolution, and only requires a small die size.
A sigma-delta ADC (also known as a delta-sigma ADC) oversamples the desired signal by a large factor and filters the desired signal band. Generally, a smaller number of bits than required are converted using a Flash ADC after the filter. The resulting signal, along with the error generated by the discrete levels of the Flash, is fed back and subtracted from the input to the filter. This negative feedback has the effect of noise shaping the error due to the Flash so that it does not appear in the desired signal frequencies. A digital filter (decimation filter) follows the ADC which reduces the sampling rate, filters off unwanted noise signal and increases the resolution of the output (sigma-delta modulation, also called delta-sigma modulation).
A time-interleaved ADC uses M parallel ADCs where each ADC samples data every M:th cycle of the effective sample clock. The result is that the sample rate is increased M times compared to what each individual ADC can manage. In practice, the individual differences between the M ADCs degrade the overall performance reducing the spurious-free dynamic range (SFDR).However, technologies exist to correct for these time-interleaving mismatch errors.
An ADC with intermediate FM stage first uses a voltage-to-frequency converter to convert the desired signal into an oscillating signal with a frequency proportional to the voltage of the desired signal, and then uses a frequency counter to convert that frequency into a digital count proportional to the desired signal voltage. Longer integration times allow for higher resolutions. Likewise, the speed of the converter can be improved by sacrificing resolution. The two parts of the ADC may be widely separated, with the frequency signal passed through an opto-isolator or transmitted wirelessly. Some such ADCs use sine wave or square wave frequency modulation; others use pulse-frequency modulation. Such ADCs were once the most popular way to show a digital display of the status of a remote analog sensor.
There can be other ADCs that use a combination of electronics and other technologies. A time-stretch analog-to-digital converter (TS-ADC) digitizes a very wide bandwidth analog signal, that cannot be digitized by a conventional electronic ADC, by time-stretching the signal prior to digitization. It commonly uses a photonic preprocessor frontend to time-stretch the signal, which effectively slows the signal down in time and compresses its bandwidth. As a result, an electronic backend ADC, that would have been too slow to capture the original signal, can now capture this slowed down signal. For continuous capture of the signal, the frontend also divides the signal into multiple segments in addition to time-stretching. Each segment is individually digitized by a separate electronic ADC. Finally, a digital signal processor rearranges the samples and removes any distortions added by the frontend to yield the binary data that is the digital representation of the original analog signal.
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Commercial ADCs are usually implemented as integrated circuits. Most converters sample with 6 to 24 bits of resolution, and produce fewer than 1 megasample per second. Thermal noise generated by passive components such as resistors masks the measurement when higher resolution is desired. For audio applications and in room temperatures, such noise is usually a little less than 1 μV (microvolt) of white noise. If the MSB corresponds to a standard 2 V of output signal, this translates to a noise-limited performance that is less than 20~21 bits, and obviates the need for any dithering. As of February 2002, Mega- and giga-sample per second converters are available. Mega-sample converters are required in digital video cameras, video capture cards, and TV tuner cards to convert full-speed analog video to digital video files. Commercial converters usually have ±0.5 to ±1.5 LSB error in their output.
In many cases, the most expensive part of an integrated circuit is the pins, because they make the package larger, and each pin has to be connected to the integrated circuit's silicon. To save pins, it is common for slow ADCs to send their data one bit at a time over a serial interface to the computer, with the next bit coming out when a clock signal changes state, say from 0 to 5 V. This saves quite a few pins on the ADC package, and in many cases, does not make the overall design any more complex (even microprocessors which use memory-mapped I/O only need a few bits of a port to implement a serial bus to an ADC). Commercial ADCs often have several inputs that feed the same converter, usually through an analog multiplexer. Different models of ADC may include sample and hold circuits, instrumentation amplifiers or differential inputs, where the quantity measured is the difference between two voltages.
Analog-to-digital converters are integral to 2000s era music reproduction technology and digital audio workstation-based sound recording. People often produce music on computers using an analog recording and therefore need analog-to-digital converters to create the pulse-code modulation (PCM) data streams that go onto compact discs and digital music files. The current crop of analog-to-digital converters utilized in music can sample at rates up to 192 kilohertz. Considerable literature exists on these matters, but commercial considerations often play a significant role. Many recording studios record in 24-bit/96 kHz (or higher) pulse-code modulation (PCM) or Direct Stream Digital (DSD) formats, and then downsample or decimate the signal for Compact Disc Digital Audio production (44.1 kHz) or to 48 kHz for commonly used radio and television broadcast applications because of the Nyquist frequency and hearing range of humans.
ADCs are required to process, store, or transport virtually any analog signal in digital form. TV tuner cards, for example, use fast video analog-to-digital converters. Slow on-chip 8, 10, 12, or 16 bit analog-to-digital converters are common in microcontrollers. Digital storage oscilloscopes need very fast analog-to-digital converters, also crucial for software defined radio and their new applications.
Digital imaging systems commonly use analog-to-digital converters in digitizing pixels. Some radar systems commonly use analog-to-digital converters to convert signal strength to digital values for subsequent signal processing. Many other in situ and remote sensing systems commonly use analogous technology. The number of binary bits in the resulting digitized numeric values reflects the resolution, the number of unique discrete levels of quantization (signal processing). The correspondence between the analog signal and the digital signal depends on the quantization error. The quantization process must occur at an adequate speed, a constraint that may limit the resolution of the digital signal. Many sensors in scientific instruments produce an analog signal; temperature, pressure, pH, light intensity etc. All these signals can be amplified and fed to an ADC to produce a digital number proportional to the input signal.
Some non-electronic or only partially electronic devices, such as rotary encoders, can also be considered ADCs. Typically the digital output of an ADC will be a two's complement binary number that is proportional to the input. An encoder might output a Gray code.
Testing an Analog to Digital Converter requires an analog input source and hardware to send control signals and capture digital data output. Some ADCs also require an accurate source of reference signal.
The key parameters to test a SAR ADC are:
Digital signal processing (DSP) is the use of digital processing, such as by computers or more specialized digital signal processors, to perform a wide variety of signal processing operations. The signals processed in this manner are a sequence of numbers that represent samples of a continuous variable in a domain such as time, space, or frequency.
In electronics, a comparator is a device that compares two voltages or currents and outputs a digital signal indicating which is larger. It has two analog input terminals and and one binary digital output . The output is ideally
A delta modulation is an analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog signal conversion technique used for transmission of voice information where quality is not of primary importance. DM is the simplest form of differential pulse-code modulation (DPCM) where the difference between successive samples are encoded into n-bit data streams. In delta modulation, the transmitted data are reduced to a 1-bit data stream. Its main features are:
Sound can be recorded and stored and played using either digital or analog techniques. Both techniques introduce errors and distortions in the sound, and these methods can be systematically compared. Musicians and listeners have argued over the superiority of digital versus analog sound recordings. Arguments for analog systems include the absence of fundamental error mechanisms which are present in digital audio systems, including aliasing and quantization noise. Advocates of digital point to the high levels of performance possible with digital audio, including excellent linearity in the audible band and low levels of noise and distortion.
In electronics, an analog multiplier is a device which takes two analog signals and produces an output which is their product. Such circuits can be used to implement related functions such as squares, and square roots.
Direct digital synthesis (DDS) is a method employed by frequency synthesizers used for creating arbitrary waveforms from a single, fixed-frequency reference clock. DDS is used in applications such as signal generation, local oscillators in communication systems, function generators, mixers, modulators, sound synthesizers and as part of a digital phase-locked loop.
Noise shaping is a technique typically used in digital audio, image, and video processing, usually in combination with dithering, as part of the process of quantization or bit-depth reduction of a digital signal. Its purpose is to increase the apparent signal-to-noise ratio of the resultant signal. It does this by altering the spectral shape of the error that is introduced by dithering and quantization; such that the noise power is at a lower level in frequency bands at which noise is considered to be less desirable and at a correspondingly higher level in bands where it is considered to be more desirable. A popular noise shaping algorithm used in image processing is known as ‘Floyd Steinberg dithering’; and many noise shaping algorithms used in audio processing are based on an ‘Absolute threshold of hearing’ model.
Delta-sigma modulation is a method for encoding analog signals into digital signals as found in an analog-to-digital converter (ADC). It is also used to convert high bit-count, low-frequency digital signals into lower bit-count, higher-frequency digital signals as part of the process to convert digital signals into analog as part of a digital-to-analog converter (DAC).
A resistor ladder is an electrical circuit made from repeating units of resistors. Two configurations are discussed below, a string resistor ladder and an R–2R ladder.
A flash ADC is a type of analog-to-digital converter that uses a linear voltage ladder with a comparator at each "rung" of the ladder to compare the input voltage to successive reference voltages. Often these reference ladders are constructed of many resistors; however, modern implementations show that capacitive voltage division is also possible. The output of these comparators is generally fed into a digital encoder, which converts the inputs into a binary value.
A successive approximation ADC is a type of analog-to-digital converter that converts a continuous analog waveform into a discrete digital representation via a binary search through all possible quantization levels before finally converging upon a digital output for each conversion.
Effective number of bits (ENOB) is a measure of the dynamic range of an analog-to-digital converter (ADC), digital-to-analog converter, or their associated circuitry. The resolution of an ADC is specified by the number of bits used to represent the analog value. Ideally, a 12-bit ADC will have an effective number of bits of almost 12. However, real signals have noise, and real circuits are imperfect and introduce additional noise and distortion. Those imperfections reduce the number of bits of accuracy the ADC. The ENOB describes the effective resolution of the system in bits. An ADC may have 12-bit resolution, but the effective number of bits when used in a system may be 9.5.
An integrating ADC is a type of analog-to-digital converter that converts an unknown input voltage into a digital representation through the use of an integrator. In its basic implementation, the dual-slope converter, the unknown input voltage is applied to the input of the integrator and allowed to ramp for a fixed time period. Then a known reference voltage of opposite polarity is applied to the integrator and is allowed to ramp until the integrator output returns to zero. The input voltage is computed as a function of the reference voltage, the constant run-up time period, and the measured run-down time period. The run-down time measurement is usually made in units of the converter's clock, so longer integration times allow for higher resolutions. Likewise, the speed of the converter can be improved by sacrificing resolution.
Pulse-density modulation, or PDM, is a form of modulation used to represent an analog signal with a binary signal. In a PDM signal, specific amplitude values are not encoded into codewords of pulses of different weight as they would be in pulse-code modulation (PCM); rather, the relative density of the pulses corresponds to the analog signal's amplitude. The output of a 1-bit DAC is the same as the PDM encoding of the signal. Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is a special case of PDM where the switching frequency is fixed and all the pulses corresponding to one sample are contiguous in the digital signal. For a 50% voltage with a resolution of 8-bits, a PWM waveform will turn on for 128 clock cycles and then off for the remaining 128 cycles. With PDM and the same clock rate the signal would alternate between on and off every other cycle. The average is 50% for both waveforms, but the PDM signal switches more often. For 100% or 0% level, they are the same.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to electronics:
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