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Maxim Integrated - Integration Nation
James Niemann

History Indicates Analog Integration Is at an Inflection Point

James Niemann
Brad Albing
Brad Albing
5/2/2013 9:12:58 AM
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Re: How to Survive in the Future of Analog Integration
Scott - some excellent info in your reply - worthy of a blog in itself. So I'll likely borrow some of this info and use it in a blog in the near future. Thanks.

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Maciel
Maciel
4/30/2013 10:48:34 PM
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Integrated or expansive !
If we think of integrating the application level have new integrated circuits still being developed.

An old item is very common example is the TCA785 a stage controller which has been widely used before the uC expand considerably.

The point x is integrated so that even a small proportion other associated components are used, not only passive components, but also on the nature and logical interfaceavel uC and digital circuits.

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Brad Albing
Brad Albing
4/29/2013 11:31:40 PM
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Re: Good article
Steve - part of that (your questions in paragraph 1) goes to a marketing issue - or to the issues that the Marketing guys need to figure out. If there can be a way to do the multiple analog functions on a chip or in a module - and (better yet) make it easily and cheaply configurable during the manufacturing process - well then you've found the golden fleece.

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Slogan
Slogan
4/29/2013 8:21:01 PM
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Good article
James, nice article. The thing that seems most interesting to me is what exactly to integrate. Is it a PGA with an ADC? Should the ADC be a 16-bit SAR or 24-bit delta sigma? Does the digital isolation need to be integrated? And with all of these, there a number of different options for monolithic designs or mulit-chip modules for the big analog vendors. 

 

The other catch is that the industrial and instrumentation markets often appear somewhat fragmented to me. So it can be tough to design a single integrated analog device that even hits 20-30% of the broader industrial market. But I suppose that's what makes this interesting, keeps the analog vendors designing new things, and coming to companies like Keithley to really value your opinion on what kind of integration solves your largest problems.

 

-Steve

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Scott Elder
Scott Elder
4/26/2013 1:56:26 PM
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How to Survive in the Future of Analog Integration
@James

You put together an excellent perspective of the issues at hand.

 I believe that the next turning point will be IC manufacturers providing soft IP and manufacturing support/services rather than internally defining a system solution with the hope that this product will have a large audience.  As you point out, the higher the level of integration the narrower the market.  I just don't see it working long term inside an IC company unless they are like Intel.

 Contrary to what many others will claim, prototyping a custom IC solution is very easy and cheap once a database is available.  It is the generation/qualification of the database where all the costs are incurred (i.e. product definition, design, simulation, layout, validation, qualification, etc.).  Physically making the IC die is cheap by anyone's definition. Even at sub 100nm when using MPW services to share costs.  If you don't believe this, read the annual reports of analog IC companies that explain where all the R&D dollars go - bodies and software tools, not mask costs.

 And one can already see this taking place.  First of all, the tool manufacturers like Cadence and Synopsis are slowly acquiring all types of IP including analog IP.  And then at the other end, you have companies like Apple that are hiring expert IC designers to architect unique proprietary IC systems.  Finally, and in the middle, you have IC companies that employ designers to take someone like Apple's architecture and putting it into silicon for just Apple.  Where is the value added for the IC company if the customer is inventing the system architecture?  The answer is nowhere because the patents on how to do opamps, data converters, etc. are all slowly expiring.

 Summarily, and in regards to analog IC companies, it will be those companies that have the transportable soft IP, and the skills to quickly turn that IP into a proprietary system for a system company, that will win.  They will still sell high volume proprietary silicon real estate; just in the form of placed soft IP not individual pieces of packaged hard IP (i.e. an 8 pin OpAmp). 

 I don't buy this idea that a handful of analog IC companies can employ experts in all disciplines of analog system engineering in the world.  Not reasonable.  Especially when expert designers can earn more money at a system company where the profits are measured in billions not millions.

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