Samplify chip combines 65 Msps ADC, data compression

Santa Clara, CA—Samplify Systems today announced the SAM1600, a novel chip family that combines 12-bit, 65 Msample/sec analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) with Samplify's patented Prism data compression technology as well as its patent-pending port concentration technology. Samplify claims that the SAM1600 family has industry-leading power consumption, supporting up to 16 channels in a power budget of 44 mW per channel. The SAM1600 family targets high-channel-density applications such as ultrasound front-ends, 4G wireless base stations, automated test equipment (ATE), and RADAR/SONAR receivers.

The SAM1600 family includes the SAM1610, SAM1605, and SAM1600. The 16-channel SAM1600 offers a traditional ADC configuration without data compression. The SAM1600 can be configured as two independent 8-channel ADCs with separate frame and clock outputs to maintain compatibility with legacy FPGA or ASIC beamforming designs. The 16-channel SAM1610 and 8-channel SAM1605 feature Samplify's Prism data compression and port concentration technologies. Together these technologies reduce the number of LVDS outputs by as much as 75%.

The Prism data compression technology offers lossless and lossy compression modes. The port concentration technology, which is offered on all members of the SAM1600 family, maintains the full-rate 800 Mbps LVDS bandwidth with a reduced pin count. At 50 Msample/sec, for example, the SAM1610/00 uses 12 LVDS output pairs to carry 16 ADC channels.

The reduction in LVDS outputs can dramatically reduce power consumption as well as system cost. For a 256-channel ultrasound console machine, for example, a 75% reduction in LVDS pairs translates to 384 fewer FPGA pins and board traces between the SAM1610 and beamformer FPGAs, reducing power consumption, board space, and backplane complexity while allowing the use of fewer and/or cheaper FPGAs.

The SAM1600 is an unusual ADC for several reasons. Most obviously, the compression technology offers potential power, cost, and size savings over traditional ADCs. Less obvious is the fact that the Prism data compression technology was previously available as software or as an FPGA IP block. (The compression engine in the SAM1600 is fully compatible with existing software and FPGA IP.) Although these previous implementations provided many advantages, integrating the compression technology into the ADC significantly boosts the improvements to power, cost, and size.

The ADCs are also unusual because Samplify was an intellectual property company prior to this announcement—i.e., this is the first chip it has ever produced. The move from IP provider to chip company is unusual, but makes sense. According to recent analysis by Jeff Bier, president of the independent market research firm BDTI, “One of the trends for the next decade is that embedded processor companies need to be increasingly differentiated by their ownership of proprietary algorithms. For this approach to be successful, chip companies will need to make a major shift in their mindsets and talent pools—but the result may be the difference between succeeding in the coming decades and being left in the (silicon) dust.”

Samples of the SAM1600 are available now. Pricing for the SAM1610, SAM1605, and SAM1600 is $79.00, $39.50, and $64.00 in 1K quantities, respectively. All members of the SAM1600 family are packaged in a 12 mm by 12 mm 196 ball grid array. Customers using any SAM1600 family devices receive a royalty-free license to Samplify's Prism decompression FPGA IP or software. A complete ADC evaluation board with data analysis software is also available for $1,995.00.

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