Not everything's going digital. As designers embed microcontrollers in more and more products, demand is increasing for analog chips. Reason: Analog circuits convert human input into digital 1s and 0s that digital circuits can process. They also take digital output and convert it back to analog signals that people can understand, such as audio and video. "We are in the middle of the second analog revolution," says Pat Brockett, executive vice president of National Semiconductor's Analog Products Group. "Analog and mixed-signal are the key technologies that connect people in the real world to the digital domain." The global market for analog products is expected to increase 18% from $19.6 billion to $23.1 billion this year, according to the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics.
A new federally sponsored manufacturing innovation center to strengthen US manufacturing abilities in fiber-reinforced composites has formed, bringing together materials suppliers, OEMs, university R&D labs, and national labs.
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