The AFE: How Much Should Be Inside?

We're having another chat session Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 11:00 a.m. ET/8:00 a.m. PT (15:00 GMT/UTC). The topic: “The AFE: How much should be inside?”

This chat, which will build on a recent Steve Taranovich blog on the topic, is a text-based chat. No talking will be required — just typing.

Analog front ends (AFEs) contain varying amounts of analog functionality. How much depends on the demands of the marketplace and the folks who designed it. You'll see devices that range from an op-amp with a filter to a full signal conditioning front end, intermediate analog signal processing, an ADC, and perhaps a DSP or microcontroller unit.

Let's talk about what you'd like to see in a device.

  • What functionality should be there and why?
  • What's not enough functionality (among the devices you've seen already)?
  • Alternately, what's too much functionality? Does it appear to do so much that you'll never use all it can do?
  • How much should it cost?
  • What are the typical specs?
  • How good is the documentation?
  • How good is the customer support?

We're still lining up our experts, and we'll announce the names shortly. For now, make sure you're registered, and then click here at or a little before the appointed hour. We look forward to seeing and hearing from you then.

Related post:

15 comments on “The AFE: How Much Should Be Inside?

  1. Davidled
    October 11, 2013

    Costs of prototype would be depending on how complex the device will be. All package of cost includes the documentation, a limited support, and device including labor. Labor would be a big portion of cost. Documentation should include all diagrams for each block with detail explanation. However, if the performance of device does not meet the expectation. That is a totally different situation.

  2. Netcrawl
    October 13, 2013

    Most AFEs are custom-designed to meet the requirements of a particular system under development, it's a time-consuming process, where engineers need to do some long development process for each new project. It's a daunting task; they need to start from the bottom: design the circuitry, select the appropriate ICs and procure the components, and test the circuit.

  3. Netcrawl
    October 13, 2013

    Today's electronic systems are quite complex and include more than just sensors and MCUs, they usually require analog circuitry to convert the analog signals produced by typical sensors into digital signals one, this circuitry, the AFE is an essential building block, it perform a vital role.

  4. samicksha
    October 14, 2013

    any one here with experiance on ADS1298, most commonly used in EEG and ECG applications, it has capability of digital pace detection just wanted understand more on same.

  5. Netcrawl
    October 14, 2013

    @samicksha, the ADS1298 is a 24-bit, delta-sigma (ΔΣ) analog-to-digital converter (ADC) with a built-in programmable gain amplifier (PGA), internal reference, and an onboard oscillator. It incorporates all of the features that are commonly required in ECG and EEG applications; it can be used with a variety of patient simulators and allows the user to take advantage of the flexible input multiplexer which can be independently connected to the internally-generated signals for test and detection.

  6. samicksha
    October 15, 2013

    Than Netcrawl, but i am actually for some more info and understanding on flexible input multiplexer which can be independently connected to the internally-generated signals for test and detection, i.e. how exactly it works and what are its dependent parameters.

  7. Netcrawl
    October 16, 2013

    @samicksha curiosity that exactly drive you to find out something. Its not rocket science, there's  alot of data sheets online and quick notes, I believe it can help you.

  8. Brad_Albing
    October 16, 2013

    @Netcrawl – that's similar to my experience when I was at Intersil. the devices we made were not exactly custom designed for one customer, but were designed with a specific small group of customers in mind. And it was a time consuming project – very long term.

  9. Brad_Albing
    October 16, 2013

    @DaeJ – yep – labor costs are big – lots of time spent on documentation, time spent with customers to make sure everything works as expected.

  10. Brad_Albing
    October 16, 2013

    @Netcrawl – and regarding that ADC, I'm seeing greater use of the delta-sigma ADCs in AFEs. And other places as well like for audio applications. But that's a topic for another day.

  11. Brad_Albing
    October 16, 2013

    @Netcrawl – nice part – I'll need to take a closer look.

  12. eafpres
    October 16, 2013

    Hi Brad–is this where today's live chat will occur?


  13. Brad_Albing
    October 16, 2013

    @eafpres – yep – you've come to the right place. Remember, there's a 2 drink minimum and tip your server generously.

  14. Brad_Albing
    October 16, 2013

    Hi everyone and welcome to our discussion of the AFE. We'll discuss what is typically inside and why. Or why not. And we'll go off on some tangental discusions too. My cohost Steve T and I will add our own commentary to keep things moving.

  15. Brad_Albing
    October 16, 2013

    Hi folks – everyone here should go to this site for the rest of the conversation:


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