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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The particular challenges of mixed signal include:

Commercial examples

Most modern radio and communications use mixed-signal circuits.

History

MOS switched-capacitor circuits

The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, or MOS transistor) was invented by Mohamed M. Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1959, and the MOS integrated circuit (MOS IC) chip was proposed soon after, but MOS technology was initially overlooked by Bell because they did not find it practical for analog telephone applications, before it was commercialized by Fairchild and RCA for digital electronics such as computers. [8] [9] MOS technology eventually became practical for telephony applications with the MOS mixed-signal integrated circuit, which combines analog and digital signal processing on a single chip, developed by former Bell engineer David A. Hodges with Paul R. Gray at UC Berkeley in the early 1970s. [9] In 1974, Hodges and Gray worked with R.E. Suarez to develop MOS switched capacitor (SC) circuit technology, which they used to develop a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) chip, using MOS capacitors and MOSFET switches for data conversion. [9] MOS analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and DAC chips were commercialized by 1974. [10]

MOS SC circuits led to the development of pulse-code modulation (PCM) codec-filter chips in the late 1970s. [9] [11] The silicon-gate CMOS (complementary MOS) PCM codec-filter chip, developed by Hodges and W.C. Black in 1980, [9] has since been the industry standard for digital telephony. [9] [11] By the 1990s, telecommunication networks such as the public switched telephone network (PSTN) had been largely digitized with very-large-scale integration (VLSI) CMOS PCM codec-filters, widely used in electronic switching systems for telephone exchanges, private branch exchanges (PBX) and key telephone systems (KTS); user-end modems; data transmission applications such as digital loop carriers, pair gain multiplexers, telephone loop extenders, integrated services digital network (ISDN) terminals, digital cordless telephones and digital cell phones; and applications such as speech recognition equipment, voice data storage, voice mail and digital tapeless answering machines. [11] The bandwidth of digital telecommunication networks has been rapidly increasing at an exponential rate, as observed by Edholm's law, [12] largely driven by the rapid scaling and miniaturization of MOS technology. [13] [9]

RF CMOS circuits

While working at Bell Labs in the early 1980s, Pakistani engineer Asad Abidi worked on the development of sub-micron MOSFET (metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor) VLSI (very large-scale integration) technology at the Advanced LSI Development Lab, along with Marty Lepselter, George E. Smith and Harry Bol. As one of the few circuit designers at the lab, Abidi demonstrated the potential of sub-micron NMOS integrated circuit technology in high-speed communication circuits, and developed the first MOS amplifiers for Gb/s data rates in optical fiber receivers. Abidi's work was initially met with skepticism from proponents of GaAs and bipolar junction transistors, the dominant technologies for high-speed circuits at the time. In 1985 he joined UCLA, where he pioneered RF CMOS technology in the late 1980s. His work changed the way in which RF circuits would be designed, away from discrete bipolar transistors and towards CMOS integrated circuits. [14]

Abidi was researching analog CMOS circuits for signal processing and communications during the late 1980s to early 1990s. In the mid-1990s, the RF CMOS technology that he pioneered was widely adopted in wireless networking, as mobile phones began entering widespread use. As of 2008, the radio transceivers in all wireless networking devices and modern mobile phones are mass-produced as RF CMOS devices. [14]

The baseband processors [15] [16] and radio transceivers in all modern wireless networking devices and mobile phones are mass-produced using RF CMOS devices. [14] RF CMOS circuits are widely used to transmit and receive wireless signals, in a variety of applications, such as satellite technology (such as GPS), bluetooth, Wi-Fi, near-field communication (NFC), mobile networks (such as 3G and 4G), terrestrial broadcast, and automotive radar applications, among other uses. [17] RF CMOS technology is crucial to modern wireless communications, including wireless networks and mobile communication devices. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

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 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.

Telephony is the field of technology involving the development, application, and deployment of telecommunication services for the purpose of electronic transmission of voice, fax, or data, between distant parties. The history of telephony is intimately linked to the invention and development of the telephone.

CMOS Technology for constructing integrated circuits

Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS), also known as complementary-symmetry metal–oxide–semiconductor (COS-MOS), is a type of MOSFET fabrication process that uses complementary and symmetrical pairs of p-type and n-type MOSFETs for logic functions. CMOS technology is used for constructing integrated circuit (IC) chips, including microprocessors, microcontrollers, memory chips, and other digital logic circuits. CMOS technology is also used for analog circuits such as image sensors, data converters, RF circuits, and highly integrated transceivers for many types of communication.

The Information Age is a historic period beginning in the 20th century and characterized by the rapid shift from traditional industry that the Industrial Revolution brought through industrialization to an economy primarily based upon information technology. The onset of the Information Age can be associated with the development of transistor technology, particularly the MOSFET, which revolutionized modern technology and became the fundamental building block of digital electronics in the information age.

Wireless kind of telecommunication that does not require the use of physical wires; the transfer of information or power between two or more points that are not connected by an electrical conductor

Wireless communication is the transfer of information or power between two or more points that are not connected by an electrical conductor. The most common wireless technologies use radio waves. With radio waves distances can be short, such as a few meters for Bluetooth or as far as millions of kilometers for deep-space radio communications. It encompasses various types of fixed, mobile, and portable applications, including two-way radios, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and wireless networking. Other examples of applications of radio wireless technology include GPS units, garage door openers, wireless computer mouse, keyboards and headsets, headphones, radio receivers, satellite television, broadcast television and cordless telephones. Somewhat less common methods of achieving wireless communications include the use of other electromagnetic wireless technologies, such as light, magnetic, or electric fields or the use of sound.

Bipolar CMOS (BiCMOS) is a semiconductor technology that integrates two formerly separate semiconductor technologies, those of the bipolar junction transistor and the CMOS gate, in a single integrated circuit device.

Analog Devices company

Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI), also known simply as Analog, is an American multinational semiconductor company specializing in data conversion, signal processing and power management technology, headquartered in Norwood, Massachusetts. In 2012, Analog Devices led the worldwide data converter market with a 48.5% share, according to analyst firm Databeans.

In computer engineering, a logic family may refer to one of two related concepts. A logic family of monolithic digital integrated circuit devices is a group of electronic logic gates constructed using one of several different designs, usually with compatible logic levels and power supply characteristics within a family. Many logic families were produced as individual components, each containing one or a few related basic logical functions, which could be used as "building-blocks" to create systems or as so-called "glue" to interconnect more complex integrated circuits. A "logic family" may also refer to a set of techniques used to implement logic within VLSI integrated circuits such as central processors, memories, or other complex functions. Some such logic families use static techniques to minimize design complexity. Other such logic families, such as domino logic, use clocked dynamic techniques to minimize size, power consumption and delay.

IC power-supply pin

Almost all integrated circuits (ICs) have at least two pins that connect to the power rails of the circuit in which they are installed. These are known as the power-supply pins. However, the labeling of the pins varies by IC family and manufacturer.

Integrated circuit design Engineering process for electronic hardware

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A linear integrated circuit or analog chip is a set of miniature electronic analog circuits formed on a single piece of semiconductor material.

History of telecommunication aspect of history relating to telecommunications

The history of telecommunication began with the use of smoke signals and drums in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. In the 1790s, the first fixed semaphore systems emerged in Europe. However, it was not until the 1830s that electrical telecommunication systems started to appear. This article details the history of telecommunication and the individuals who helped make telecommunication systems what they are today. The history of telecommunication is an important part of the larger history of communication.

Maxim Integrated is an American, publicly traded company that designs, manufactures, and sells analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits.

In an integrated circuit, a signal can couple from one node to another via the substrate. This phenomenon is referred to as substrate coupling or substrate noise coupling.

Electronic circuit electrical circuit with active components such as transistors, valves and integrated circuits; electrical network that contains active electronic components, generally nonlinear and require complex design and analysis tools

An electronic circuit is composed of individual electronic components, such as resistors, transistors, capacitors, inductors and diodes, connected by conductive wires or traces through which electric current can flow. To be referred to as electronic, rather than electrical, generally at least one active component must be present. The combination of components and wires allows various simple and complex operations to be performed: signals can be amplified, computations can be performed, and data can be moved from one place to another.

Edholm's law, proposed by and named after Phil Edholm, refers to the observation that the three categories of telecommunication, namely wireless (mobile), nomadic and wired networks (fixed), are in lockstep and gradually converging. Edholm's law also holds that data rates for these telecommunications categories increase on similar exponential curves, with the slower rates trailing the faster ones by a predictable time lag. Edholm's law predicts that the bandwidth and data rates double every 18 months, which has proven to be true since the 1970s. The trend is evident in the cases of Internet, cellular (mobile), wireless LAN and wireless personal area networks.

Asad Abidi Pakistani electrical engineer and scientist

Asad Ali Abidi is a Pakistani-American electrical engineer. He serves as a tenured professor at University of California, Los Angeles, and is the inaugural holder of the Abdus Salam Chair at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He is best known for pioneering RF CMOS technology during the late 1980s to early 1990s. As of 2008, the radio transceivers in all wireless networking devices and modern mobile phones are mass-produced as RF CMOS devices.

David Albert Hodges is a noted American electrical engineer, currently Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.

Natalino Camilleri from the Nitero, Inc., Austin, TX was named Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2015 for leadership in radio frequency integrated circuits and systems.

RF CMOS is a metal–oxide–semiconductor (MOS) integrated circuit (IC) technology that integrates radio-frequency (RF), analog and digital electronics on a mixed-signal CMOS RF circuit chip. It is widely used in modern wireless telecommunications, such as cellular networks, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS receivers, broadcasting, vehicular communication systems, and the radio transceivers in all modern mobile phones and wireless networking devices. RF CMOS technology was pioneered by Pakistani engineer Asad Ali Abidi at UCLA during the late 1980s to early 1990s, and helped bring about the wireless revolution with the introduction of digital signal processing in wireless communications.

References

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  4. "ESS Mixed Signal Circuits" Archived 2010-10-11 at the Wayback Machine
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  6. "Substrate noise issues in mixed-signal chip designs using Spice" by Singh, R.; Sali, S. 1997
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  14. 1 2 3 O'Neill, A. (2008). "Asad Abidi Recognized for Work in RF-CMOS". IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society Newsletter. 13 (1): 57–58. doi:10.1109/N-SSC.2008.4785694. ISSN   1098-4232.
  15. Chen, Wai-Kai (2018). The VLSI Handbook. CRC Press. pp. 60–2. ISBN   9781420005967.
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Further reading