Analog integration holds tremendous potential for transformation of our world. Just look at the emerging applications in areas like the smart grid, where smart meters now automatically measure electricity usage and communicate that usage on a unique network.
Fifteen years ago, the cost of such a network was completely prohibitive. Now, with advances and integration in both the metrology and communication, these networks are not only possible, they’re preferable and cost effective. Smart meters are just the tip of the iceberg, as machine-to-machine networks, or the Internet of Things, emerge. But who really pushes analog integration?
Let’s look at what pushed the first revolution in silicon technology. We all grew up in a world in which Moore’s Law dominated the advances in digital process technology and performance. Amazingly, my current iPhone is orders of magnitude more powerful than the 90MHz Pentium desktop I bought in college. I thought that was a pretty cool machine — actually it was, but times have changed.
Who really pushed Moore’s Law? Despite the fact that Moore’s Law seemed to proceed unimpeded for many, many years, there still needed to be customer demand fueling the consumption of high-performance digital chips. The same must be the case for analog integration, but now the opportunity is orders of magnitude greater.
Moore’s Law proceeded in the advent of the computing age. Each year, faster computers came out that could handle larger, more complex software. Business and consumer demand for computers was the single greatest force pushing Moore’s Law.
Now, analog integration offers the potential for multiple communication and sensing applications, such as smart grid, LED lighting, mobile communications, and more. All industries are pushing analog integration from different directions, with different needs. Furthermore, digital integration progressed under the quest of reducing one variable, the critical dimension. Analog integration progresses with the challenge and opportunity to shrink, pull together, and optimize multiple circuits from power management to signal processing to communications. Comparing digital integration to analog integration is like comparing black-and-white television to 3D color TV. The transformation is mind boggling.
Who’s going to drive analog integration? The creative ones will do it. There are no limits to the industries, applications, and new frontiers yet to be discovered. There are no limits to the number of tools and pieces that might fit together in a different way, performing beautifully in new, unique applications.
So, grab your paintbrush, sketch pad, tablet, or smart meter. Let us know your vision, which pieces you want to pull together, how you envision your next system operating — and not only operating, but operating better, faster, in new situations. We look forward to hearing from you.