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Analog Angle Article

Analog is dying! Analog is flourishing!

Someone once said that the mark of a genius is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time. Well, I'm no genius, but I do feel that “mark” sometimes!

Why? Because every few weeks I get a call from someone purporting to be a stock analyst, and many of these calls start with one of two contradictory premises: either they say that they hear that everything is going digital, so isn't this the end of “analog”; or they have heard that several leading IC vendors are investing heavily in analog because of its potential profitability, margins, and returns, and what do I think?

Then they want me to tell them “everything” about the analog market, and in just 15 or 20 minutes, please. Sorry, not going to happen: even it were possible to do so (and it is not), I am certainly not inclined to teach them what I learned the hard way, just so they can then publish it in expensive reports to their clients.

So what's my answer to their query: do I think analog is dying, or not? To these know-nothing analysts, there isn't much to say. When they ask how company XYZ is doing, I can honestly say I don't know anything “inside”, only the publically available numbers. When they ask my opinion of vendor ABC, all I will say is that they have many good products and a good reputation, as do all of their top- and second-tier competitors. And when they ask me if I know of any hot upcoming products, their audacity amazes me.

And here at Planet Analog , is analog dying or flourishing? Flourishing, of course, although It depends somewhat on what you mean by “analog”. Many traditional, classical analog functions, such as thermocouple linearization, are now almost always done using firmware or software, of course. But there are so many new opportunities, especially where the laws of physics dictate that though you may think you are being “digital”, instead you are constrained and defined by analog's reality. So by the way, what's bothering that digital Gbps wireless link you are building?

It's no secret that some leading vendors who have both analog and digital expertise are investing heavily in process and product development for their analog side. They clearly feel that analog is a good business opportunity. And who I am to contradict those who are putting serious money into the game, in effect “walking the walk” and not just “talking the talk”?♦

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