I've been asking around (colleagues, online engineering groups, polls) for suggestions on what engineers want if they could dictate choices for new integrated analog ICs. I received some reasonable and interesting suggestions.
Dr. Tom Bach (Brighton, UK) had a rather specific request for a 16 input analog multiplexer that in some ways would be similar to the CMOS 74HC4067, MPC506, or DG506. The important difference: any of the inputs not selected (connected to the output) would instead be connected together and to a separate output pin.
Dr. Bach intended to connect that pin to a voltage source. We will note that any analog muxer is bidirectional. So perhaps he needed this function to confirm (via some sort of read-back circuitry) which input is selected and which is not selected. An interesting idea, in any case. In actual fabrication, this could be done by putting two 16-channel muxers plus suitable control circuitry on the chip.
Clarence Foytik (Houston, Texas) said he'd like a delta-sigma ADC with a PGA (programmable gain amplifier) front end. And he'd like it with higher gain setting resolution than what is available now. If it could be made with 7-bit control (i.e., 128 individual steps), that would be great. But he would settle for 64, 32, or at least 16 different levels of gain setting. And while we're at it, the amplifier should be unconditionally stable, repeatable, have an ENOB equivalent to the published number of bits, operate on a single supply, and draw hardly any current.
Joerg Schulze-Clewing (Sacramento, California) would like a programmable analog/mixed signal device. JSC mentioned the Cypress PSoC as a starting place, but with some additional features. His list is reproduced here:
- Fully programmable;
- More analog blocks. Lots more;
- Faster analog;
- Good (or software trimmable) offset specs;
- Fast current mode control features;
- Adjustable leading edge blanking; tens of ns granularity;
- Modest uC horsepower to implement “strange” loops;
- Complimentary beer and pretzels.
No one could argue with that feature list. Especially Homer Simpson. “Mmm… beer and pretzels.”
Ross Ramm (Melbourne, Australia) would like an IC that has most of the circuitry needed for a grid-tie micro-inverter. This would have all of the analog measurement circuitry, miscellaneous control I/O, and power-supply circuitry including the FET gate drivers. He adds that if isolation is needed for portions of this (entirely likely), he'd like to see that included as part of the IC. Then, wireless communication functionality would be good, too. Could be ZigBee or power line communication (PLC). He acknowledges that perhaps we would need to add external power FETs or IGBTs, a transformer, and some L-C filter components since maybe it's not practical to integrate all that.
Lastly, Chris Watts (Bath, UK) wants:
…a chip like the Lime Microsystems LMS6002D but covering lower frequencies and… optimized for narrower bandwidths. For those unfamiliar with Lime Microsystems, this is a transceiver front end (antenna to DAC/ADC) with a wide frequency range and programmable bandwidth. What I would like is coverage below the bottom of the LMS6002D range and with narrower bandwidths.
The part to which Chris refers, the Lime Microsystems LMS6002D, is a nifty part. This part is intended for the UHF band (plus 800MHz into the SHF band for those keeping score at home). This means the device is intended for cellphones and WiFi applications, but not for more general-purpose transceivers operating at lower frequencies. I expect Chris is looking for an IC suitable for a general purpose transceiver like those that armed forces, safety forces, and ham-radio operators would make use of. The likely frequencies of operation would be 1MHz to 300MHz.
Thanks for sending along your ideas. There's surely more ICs that you'd like to see implemented in silicon. Tell us what you have in mind.