Mixed-signal integrated circuit

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A mixed-signal integrated circuit is any integrated circuit that has both analog circuits and digital circuits on a single semiconductor die. [1] [2] [3] [4] In real-life applications mixed-signal designs are everywhere, for example, smart mobile phones. Mixed-signal ICs also process both analog and digital signals together. For example, an analog-to-digital converter is a mixed-signal circuit. Mixed-signal circuits or systems are typically cost-effective solutions for building any modern consumer electronics applications.

Integrated circuit electronic circuit manufactured by lithography; set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece (or "chip") of semiconductor material, normally silicon

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 MOS 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 IC's 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.

Mobile phone Portable device to make telephone calls using a radio link

A mobile phone, cell phone, cellphone, or hand phone, sometimes shortened to simply mobile, cell or just phone, is a portable telephone that can make and receive calls over a radio frequency link while the user is moving within a telephone service area. The radio frequency link establishes a connection to the switching systems of a mobile phone operator, which provides access to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Modern mobile telephone services use a cellular network architecture, and, therefore, mobile telephones are called cellular telephones or cell phones, in North America. In addition to telephony, 2000s-era mobile phones support a variety of other services, such as text messaging, MMS, email, Internet access, short-range wireless communications, business applications, video games, and digital photography. Mobile phones offering only those capabilities are known as feature phones; mobile phones which offer greatly advanced computing capabilities are referred to as smartphones.

Analog-to-digital converter 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; device converting a physical quantity to a digital number

In electronics, an analog-to-digital converter 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.

Contents

Introduction

An analog-mixed-signal system-on-a-chip (AMS-SoC) can be a combination of analog circuits, digital circuits, intrinsic mixed-signal circuits (like ADC), and embedded software.

Embedded software is computer software, written to control machines or devices that are not typically thought of as computers, commonly known as embedded systems. It is typically specialized for the particular hardware that it runs on and has time and memory constraints. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with firmware.

Integrated circuits (ICs) are generally classified as digital (e.g. a microprocessor) or analog (e.g. an operational amplifier). Mixed-signal ICs are chips that contain both digital and analog circuits on the same chip. This category of chip has grown dramatically with the increased use of 3G cell phones and other portable technologies.

3G, short for third generation, is the third generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology. It is the upgrade for 2G and 2.5G GPRS networks, for faster data transfer speed. This is based on a set of standards used for mobile devices and mobile telecommunications use services and networks that comply with the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000) specifications by the International Telecommunication Union. 3G finds application in wireless voice telephony, mobile Internet access, fixed wireless Internet access, video calls and mobile TV.

Mixed-signal ICs are often used to convert analog signals to digital signals so that digital devices can process them. For example, mixed-signal ICs are essential components for FM tuners in digital products such as media players, which have digital amplifiers. Any analog signal (such as an FM radio transmission, a light wave or a sound) can be digitized using a very basic analog-to-digital converter, and the smallest and most energy efficient of these would be in the form of mixed-signal ICs.

Mixed-signal ICs are more difficult to design and manufacture than analog-only or digital-only integrated circuits. For example, an efficient mixed-signal IC would have its digital and analog components share a common power supply. However, analog and digital components have very different power needs and consumption characteristics that make this a non-trivial goal in chip design.

Examples

Typically, mixed-signal chips perform some whole function or sub-function in a larger assembly such as the radio subsystem of a cell phone, or the read data path and laser sled control logic of a DVD player. They often contain an entire system-on-a-chip.

Control logic

Control logic is a key part of a software program that controls the operations of the program. The control logic responds to commands from the user, and it also acts on its own to perform automated tasks that have been structured into the program.

DVD Optical disc

DVD is a digital optical disc storage format invented and developed in 1995. The medium can store any kind of digital data and is widely used for software and other computer files as well as video programs watched using DVD players. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than compact discs while having the same dimensions.

Examples of mixed-signal integrated circuits include data converters using delta-sigma modulation, analog-to-digital converter/digital-to-analog converter using error detection and correction, and digital radio chips. Digitally controlled sound chips are also mixed-signal circuits. With the advent of cellular technology and network technology this category now includes cellular telephone, software radio, LAN and WAN router integrated circuits.

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).

Digital-to-analog converter device that 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.

In information theory and coding theory with applications in computer science and telecommunication, error detection and correction or error control are techniques that enable reliable delivery of digital data over unreliable communication channels. Many communication channels are subject to channel noise, and thus errors may be introduced during transmission from the source to a receiver. Error detection techniques allow detecting such errors, while error correction enables reconstruction of the original data in many cases.

Because of the use of both digital signal processing and analog circuitry, mixed-signal ICs are usually designed for a very specific purpose and their design requires a high level of expertise and careful use of computer aided design (CAD) tools. Automated testing of the finished chips can also be challenging. Teradyne, Keysight, and Texas Instruments are the major suppliers of the test equipment for mixed-signal chips.

Teradyne, Inc., based in North Reading, Massachusetts in the United States, is a developer and supplier of automatic test equipment (ATE). The company's divisions Semiconductor Test and Systems Test Group, are organized by the products they develop and deliver. Teradyne's high-profile customers include Samsung, Qualcomm, Intel, Analog Devices, Texas Instruments and IBM.

Keysight Technologies, or Keysight, is an American company that manufactures electronics test and measurement equipment and software. In 2014, Keysight was spun off from Agilent Technologies, taking with it the product lines focused on electronics and radio, leaving Agilent with the chemical and bio-analytical products.

Texas Instruments American semiconductor designer and manufacturer

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) is an American technology company that designs and manufactures semiconductors and various integrated circuits, which it sells to electronics designers and manufacturers globally. Its headquarters are in Dallas, Texas, United States. TI is one of the top-10 semiconductor companies worldwide, based on sales volume. Texas Instruments's focus is on developing analog chips and embedded processors, which account for more than 80% of their revenue. TI also produces TI digital light processing technology and education technology products including calculators, microcontrollers and multi-core processors. To date, TI has more than 45,000 patents worldwide.

The particular challenges of mixed signal include:

Commercial examples

Most modern radio and communications use mixed signal circuits.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Precision Monolithics, Inc. also known as PMI, was an American company based in Santa Clara, California, that developed and produced mixed signal and linear integrated circuits (ICs). It was a pioneer in the fields of digital-to-analog converters and operational amplifiers.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to electronics:

Saraju Mohanty American academic

Saraju Mohanty is an American professor of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and the director of the Smart Electronic Systems Laboratory, at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Mohanty received a Glorious India Award - Rich and Famous NRIs of America in 2017 for his contributions to the discipline. Mohanty is a researcher in the areas of "consumer electronics for smart cities", "application-Specific things for efficient edge computing", and "methodologies for digital and mixed-signal hardware". He has made significant research contributions to security and IP protection of consumer electronic systems, hardware-assisted security and protection, high-level synthesis of digital signal processing (DSP) hardware, and mixed-signal integrated circuit computer-aided design and electronic design automation. Mohanty has been the Editor-in-Chief (EiC) of the IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine since 2016. He has held the Chair of the IEEE Computer Society's Technical Committee on Very Large Scale Integration since September 2014. He holds 4 US patents in the areas of his research, and has published 220 research articles and 3 books.

References

  1. Saraju Mohanty, Nanoelectronic Mixed-Signal System Design, McGraw-Hill, 2015, ISBN   978-0071825719 and 0071825711.
  2. "Mixed-Signal IC Design". quote: "mixed-signal (IC's with mixed analog and digital circuits on a single chip)"
  3. Mark Burns and Gordon W. Roberts, "An Introduction to Mixed-Signal IC Test and Measurement", 2001.
  4. "ESS Mixed Signal Circuits" Archived 2010-10-11 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Fully differential current-input CMOS amplifier front-endsuppressing mixed signal substrate noise for optoelectronic applications" by Chang, J.J.; Myunghee Lee; Sungyong Jung; Brooke, M.A.; Jokerst, N.M.; Wills, D.S. 1999
  6. "Substrate noise issues in mixed-signal chip designs using Spice" by Singh, R.; Sali, S. 1997
  7. "Mixed-Signal IC Merges 14-Bit ADC With DSP In 0.18-μm CMOS"

Further reading