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Atmel breaks ENOB barrier with speedy A/D converter

San Jose, Calif. — This analog-to-digital converter (A/D converter) with a clock frequency of 1.5 gigasamples/second breaks the 8.0 effective number of bits (ENOB) barrier, according to Atmel Corp.

Atmel is kicking off this new family of high-speed converters with the AT84AS003TP. “An embedded 1:4 low-voltage differential-signaling (LVDS) demultiplexer allows direct interfacing with standard field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), without any of the costly and space consuming external circuitry typically required,” said Andrew Benn, marketing manager for Atmel's broadband data conversion product line.

“At ultra high speeds, resolution usually takes a hit,” said Susie Inouye, senior industry analyst at Databeans Inc. (Reno, Nev.) Consequently, Atmel's device stands out, she said.

National Semiconductor Corp.'s ADC081000 is the only other device that is similar, Inouye said. At a 1.6-GHz sampling rate and input frequencies up to 100 MHz, National's ADC081000 achieves 0.15 least significant bits (LSB), differential non-linearity (DNL), 0.35 LSB integral non-linearity (INL) and 7.5 ENOB. (Click on the “related stories” link below to read more about National's device).

The performance of Atmel's AT84AS003TP, combined with its ease of use, make it a practical option for upgrading existing systems or designing new digitizers for digital receivers, test instrumentation or radar equipment applications.

“Accurate digitization at sampling rates over 1 Gsamples/s is now easier,” Benn said. “System designers cannot afford complex and time-consuming routing and timing scenarios for the interface between the A/D converter and the FPGA or digital signal processing (DSP).”

At 1.5 Gsamples/s, performance such as 8.0 ENOB, 58 dB spurious-free dynamic range
(SFDR) has been demonstrated in Nyquist conditions. “Furthermore, the 3-GHz analog input bandwidth allows operation in the second Nyquist zone with performance at up to 1.5-GHz input frequency,” Benn said.

Timing or voltage tuning is not necessary, even when sweeping the sampling frequency from 100 Megasamples/s to 1.5 Gigasamples/s, according to Benn. Selectable simultaneous or staggered output, gain adjust, sampling delay adjust, and embedded built-in self test (BIST) provide additional flexibility.


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Simplified Block Diagram of Atmel's AT84AS003

Samples are available now with production quantities slated for mid-year. A pin-compatible version at 2 Gsamples/s is planned for release in the coming months.

The AT84AS003TP is available in a EBGA317 package and is priced at less than $500.00 in 1,000-piece quantities. Click here for the AT84AS003TP data sheet.

Atmel Corp. , 1-408-451-2855, www.atmel.com.

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