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Content posted in March 2013
Is Cellular RF PA Integration Finally Here? Part 1
Doug Grant  
3/29/2013   5 comments
The requirements for the power amplifier section of a cellular handset have evolved towards higher performance to support newer standards. Meanwhile, the level of integration for the power amplifier section is very low compared to the rest of the phone.
Those Darn Plastic Packages
Barry Harvey  
3/29/2013   12 comments
What are IC packages made of and why would you care? What IC malfunctions can occur that can be traced back to the package?
Applications Engineer ROI vs. Problem Solving
Derek Koonce  
3/28/2013   11 comments
As a supplier of components, how much time should you spend helping a customer solve a problem? If you're the customer, how much time should you expect the supplier to give you? In either case, to what extent should the volume of devices purchased affect the answer?
My ASIC+SoC Reassessment
Analog Angle  
3/28/2013   4 comments
Application-specific systems-on-a-chip are getting more attention. What's their impact on vendors as well as the design engineer?
Analog ICs We Can’t Live Without... & Ones We Wish We Had
Brad Albing  
3/27/2013   120 comments
There's a new contest with some nice prizes brewing. Which analog ICs do you fall back on time again in your designs? Which functions do you wish were integrated more?
Vendors Are Gone, but Their Prefixes Are Not
Analog Angle  
3/26/2013   22 comments
Vendors come and go, but their parts and unique identification codes live on even in new designs - and with good reason.
Shared Birthdays & Cherry Picking Matched Components
Scott Elder  
3/26/2013   10 comments
Cherry-picking parts for a production run (selecting from a large batch to get just the devices that match the specs you need) doesn't always produce the expected outcome.
Harvest Energy from Air? Ha!
Brad Albing  
3/25/2013   40 comments
Some people think there is such a thing as a free lunch, or that you can take whatever you want, as long as no one sees you doing it. But someone always sees.
Full Chip Simulation
Brian Bailey  
3/25/2013   17 comments
Here are the pros and cons of various methods of mixed-signal evaluation.
Are the Terms 'Integrated' & 'Monolithic' Synonymous?
Joshua Israelsohn  
3/25/2013   8 comments
New power modules raise the question of what exactly is integrated. How much functionality must be integrated before the device becomes a system?
20 Years of Change in Analog Simulation Tools
Brian Bailey  
3/22/2013   28 comments
Analog simulation tools need more clarity regarding ease of use and their ability to model real-world parts. Some modeling tools are 20 years old. Some are brand new. How much have these tools changed, and how well do they work?
Since When Are Diodes Active Electronic Components?
Brad Albing  
3/21/2013   14 comments
Diodes are usually passive electronic components. And at high current levels, they waste power. Here's how to bypass that problem.
What's So Special About This H9X Process?
Brian Bailey  
3/20/2013   19 comments
A recent press release about analog processes held a certain shock value at first blush. After a closer read, it created questions that were difficult to answer.
Smartphones: The New Power Management Summit
Jack Shandle  
3/20/2013   15 comments
Pity the poor power management designer who has to meet the six-month product cycles of smartphones with an increasingly dwindling bag of tricks. It's time to jump into mixed-signal integration with both feet.
High-Speed I/O Disintegration
Allard van der Horst  
3/19/2013   4 comments
There are many good reasons to integrate various analog functions onto an IC. But there are reasons against analog integration that must be considered before proceeding.
The Race From Power Management to Data Converters
Scott Elder  
3/19/2013   3 comments
Are IC vendors moving away from the design and manufacture of PMIC devices? Based on companies' annual reports, it seems so.
Monte Carlo Musings
William Murray  
3/19/2013   12 comments
Using Monte Carlo analysis will find problems with mass-produced circuits that you might not otherwise find until you build thousands of units. Then you'll have to deal with upset customers and the large repair costs associated with reworking units in the field.
ADC Guide, Part 13: Input Impedance
Sachin Gupta & Akshay Phatak  
3/18/2013   11 comments
In the previous part of this series we looked at differential vs. single-ended drive methods for the ADC. This installment of the series looks at ADC input impedance and the effect it has on accuracy.
Am I Cut Out to Be an Analog Designer?
Brian Bailey  
3/18/2013   15 comments
Digital design is often easier, having none of the abstractions that plague analog design. Digital designs can be started, finished, and prototyped while the analog engineer is still sharpening his pencils.
Analog Integration & the Future of Factory Automation
Brad Albing  
3/15/2013   6 comments
Factory automation is increasing and analog integration is key to its success. Here we take a more general look but then focus on input signal conditioning.
Digging Measured Signals out of the Mud
James Niemann  
3/15/2013   3 comments
Figuring out ways to find and measure the signals you want (especially low-level, low-frequency signals) in the midst of noise is one of the bigger challenges for the analog engineer.
The MAX232: A Pioneer of Integration
Len Sherman  
3/15/2013   10 comments
Analog integration started around 25 years ago with the introduction of the MAX232. The device combined existing RS232 interface circuitry with a switched capacitor power supply to generate the bipolar power supply voltages used in RS232 signaling.
Meeting the 'Rugged Design' Challenge
Analog Angle  
3/14/2013   11 comments
Ruggedized devices, those intended for extremes of temperature, ESD, vibration, etc., must be selected with care. The system in which these parts will be used must also be evaluated carefully to realize the full benefit.
Analog Integration in the Mobile World – Scenes From MWC
Damian Anzaldo  
3/14/2013   4 comments
Analog integration is showing up in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Analog functions are needed for the human interface -- it's not all about more powerful microprocessors.
Pick Your Favorite Contributor; Winner Gets $5,000!
Brad Albing  
3/13/2013   5 comments
As part of the annual ACE Awards celebration at Design West in San Jose, Calif., we will be presenting a plaque and a $5,000 check to the person we as a community consider to be most deserving of the Jim Williams Memorial Contributor of the Year Award.
Do the Harlem Shake
Reid Wender  
3/13/2013   5 comments
A circuit simulation tool is handy to have, especially if it works well with analog circuits and can be evaluated for free. And best of all, if robots and "Do the Harlem Shake" are involved, what's not to like?
High Voltage! Don't Try This at Home!
John Dunn  
3/13/2013   12 comments
High-voltage power supplies are not used in very many applications, but where they are used, because the voltage is so high, extreme care must be taken. To design such a power supply is not a trivial task and the applications are generally unusual.
Overcoming the Problems With Precision Full-Wave Rectifiers
Brad Albing  
3/12/2013   6 comments
Understand how a "simple" circuit can provide near-ideal performance for this essential function. The circuit is used for absolute value, data acquisition, and metering applications (among many others).
ADC Guide, Part 12: Input Configurations; Single-Ended & Differential Input ADCs
Sachin Gupta & Akshay Phatak  
3/12/2013   6 comments
In previous part of this series we discussed the noise specifications of an ADC. This installment of the series talks about the ADC input configuration.
RF Susceptibility & Operational Amplifiers
William Murray  
3/11/2013   4 comments
High-frequency energy can interfere with the circuitry that processes low-frequency signals, even in devices with very low-bandwidth capability.
Charge & Discharge Lithium Cells in Series
Brad Albing  
3/11/2013   22 comments
Rechargeable cells connected in series are rarely well matched. As such, they have different charge and discharge characteristics. If not monitored and corrected, some cells will deteriorate and have a shorter than normal life.
Should Process Brokerage Houses Be on Your Roadmap?
Patrick Mannion  
3/8/2013   4 comments
Third-party process brokerage houses have their place for research and small-volume runs, but they clearly have their trade-offs when it comes to real-world designs.
Digital Power Supplies Are Getting Easier
Brad Albing  
3/8/2013   3 comments
Designing a digital power supply seems to get easier every day as more manufacturers jump on the bandwagon. But attention must be paid to certain aspects of the new offerings.
Which Is Better – Analog or Digital?
Derek Koonce  
3/8/2013   8 comments
The world is analog in nature. Even though much information is processed digitally, very often the information starts and ends as analog.
RF Integration – The Final Frontier
Doug Grant  
3/7/2013   7 comments
Digital functionality continues to neatly move into large scale integration. Analog functionality -- not quite so much. And RF functionality -- pretty much not at all.
The Most Misquoted Man in Electronics Industry History, Part 2
Joshua Israelsohn  
3/7/2013   2 comments
Nearly a half century later, and in the industry's eagerness to cling to his prediction, we seem to have forgotten about Moore's insights.
Do Companies Not Want to Sell Products?
Brad Albing  
3/6/2013   9 comments
Sometimes it seems as if companies go out of their way to prevent engineers from buying their products.
Using Flexible PC Boards in Consumer Electronics
Tamara Schmitz  
3/6/2013   8 comments
Flexible printed circuit boards can make it easier to get the performance you want from a product, but probably at increased cost. In low profit margin consumer products, it may be difficult to justify their use.
Field Programmable Analog - Technical Restraints, Part 2
Reid Wender  
3/5/2013   3 comments
This is the second installment in a two-part series on configurable technologies for digital and analog integrated circuits. This installment explores whether analog circuits should be programmable or configurable and what is the difference.
What Comes First: Quality, Cost, Delivery, Time, or Innovation
Jason Bowden  
3/5/2013   3 comments
A balance must be struck among conflicting needs with the different groups involved in a project. The time and cost needs for design engineering, procurement, quality control, documentation control, and certification must be properly considered.
Arc-Fault Interrupters: How Can They Tell What's OK & What Isn't?
Brad Albing  
3/4/2013   6 comments
Arc-fault interrupters need to tell acceptable types of arcing from bad or destructive arcing. The methods used are closely held trade secrets.
Projects vs. Products: What That First Real Engineering Job Actually Teaches
Analog Angle  
3/4/2013   4 comments
There's a huge difference between doing a successful design as a project and getting that design into production. For engineers just out of school, it can be a whole new education.
The Most Misquoted Man in Electronics-Industry History, Part 1
Joshua Israelsohn  
3/1/2013   4 comments
Why is it that, whenever someone invokes Moore’s Law, I start getting angry?
What Not to Integrate
Doug Grant  
3/1/2013   3 comments
Not all analog systems are good candidates for integration. In fact, some are very bad candidates.

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