Analog Angle Article

Keep driving, no license needed

I see a lot of new products and their press releases, and it's amazing how many of them are for drivers of various types. Line drivers, LED and LCD drivers, MOSFET drivers, motor drivers, piezo drivers, level translators, I/O drivers, and relay drivers constitute a large fraction of vendor product development efforts.

The irony is that drivers get little respect, perhaps because they really don't serve a conventional signal-processing function. Nonetheless, the reality is that they are generally unacknowledged but vital components in the signal chain, acting as the interface between a sourcing circuit or transducer, and a load circuit or device. They often have a hard-life existence, and have to silently tolerate ESD, continuous and transient overvoltage, misconnections, probe abuse, short circuits, and many other electrical and mechanical forms of abuse. Failure is not an option for drivers, despite their exposure to a harsh world or load.

From a design perspective, the availability and selection of drivers is critical to circuit and system success. The difference between choosing a marginally suitable driver compared to a really well-suited one is the difference between your product performing consistently and with long-term reliability, or performing erratically and perhaps even failing. Yet designers spend lots of time choosing the processor family, and too often may pick the load driver with less consideration that they should.

After all, it's one of those “analog” things, regardless of whether your circuit interface is conceptually analog or digital.

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