Electronic Product Design

Analogue World

The following article is written by Analog Devices inc. It has been updated since we first had permission to use it. It succinctly brings into focus the importance of analogue in current and future projects. Please bear in mind that it is written in American English with “chip” design in mind. However, the principles remain for products and circuit design too.

It's an Analog World

How Analog Engineers Bring Digital Designs to Life

The "digital revolution" has changed the way we communicate, work and travel by reshaping our relationship with the world around us. The digitization of electronics has transformed our world by enabling a vast network of portable, accessible interconnected communications media. The ability to quickly and accurately collect images, voice and audio data from the environment around us and manage and manipulate it in the digital domain has given rise to anytime, anywhere communication and higher performance computing. It has yielded more reliable and affordable medical electronics. It has brought exciting, interactive multimedia content to a diversity of consumer devices. Collectively, advances like these have placed the world we live in quite literally at our fingertips.

However, the promised advantages of digital technology are only as good as the ability of the analog technologies that faithfully reproduce the digital language of 1's and 0's into analog signals that can be heard, seen, felt, or perceived by human beings.

The impact of the digital revolution would have been muted without significant and simultaneous analog technology innovation. The more of our world we capture digitally, the more of it we must convert and reconstruct - whether into real-time voice transmissions, audio signals or video images. The shrinking footprint and increasing feature set of today's cell phones, the audio quality of high-end automotive sound systems and the high-definition images broadcast to digital televisions are a product not only of smart circuit design, advanced manufacturing and high-performance digital processing, but of an ongoing revolution in analog design.

Indeed, the profusion of digital products in thousands of end markets and applications has triggered a similar, and often proportionately larger, need for high-quality analog technology. A faster digital signal processor (DSP), for example, enables a digital audio receiver to improve its performance by adding multiple audio channels. Each new channel, however, requires a separate power amplifier to drive the signal output in a manner that is familiar and pleasing to the human ear. In fact, market research firm DataBeans estimates that for every dollar of digital content added to an electronic end-product design as much as $1.40 in analog technology also is required.

The proliferation of digital electronics is actually doing much more than driving demand for analog content. In many cases, new digital products require new levels of highly integrated, high-performance analog circuitry that is able to convert, condition and regulate the signal, control and power chains that define today's advanced system functions. In fact, some end users might be surprised to learn that many of the features of their most favorite digital products are differentiated more by analog innovation than digital circuitry.





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