Analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), which quietly convert continuous signals to discrete signals, are being asked to do more these days. As portable devices proliferate, the new breed of ADCs must draw less power, take up less space and continue to push the state-of-the-art in terms of sampling rate.
“A lot of customers are trying to shrink their designs,” says Trent Butcher, senior product marketing engineer with Microchip’s Analog and Interface Products Div. “They need to pack more features into smaller spaces.”
The double-whammy of such thinking, however, is that smaller spaces mean devices have less room for batteries. That’s why ADCs — like every other component in today’s typical electronic products — must draw less current.
We’ve collected information on three new ADCs. All three offer improvements in size, power draw and sampling rate, making them applicable for a wide variety of electronic applications.
ADI’s WiMax ADC
Analog Devices’ AD9640 is said to be the first dual 14-bit ADC to achieve sampling rates of 150 Mega-Samples-Per-Second (MSPS). Supporting all third-generation (3G) base station wireless standards, the new device is aimed at WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) applications. ADI says by supporting higher sampling rates with one dual ADC, the new device enables a 50 percent reduction in board space requirements.
National’s 1-GSPS ADC for Satellites
National Semiconductor’s low-power, 8-bit, 1 Giga-Sample-Per-Second (GSPS) dual CMOS ADC is qualified for use in broadband and high-speed satellite applications. Packaged in a 128-lead, multi-layered ceramic quad flat package, it consumes 800 mW per channel, while providing gigahertz speed and a greater effective number of bits necessary for reliable measurement of high-frequency signals.
Microchip’s Small Footprint ADC for Portable Measurement
Microchip Technology Inc.’s low-power, 18-bit Delta-Sigma ADC features an integrated voltage reference and a programmable gain amplifier on chip. As a result, it reduces the need for external components and enables a smaller overall design footprint. With its 6-pin package, low power consumption and high resolution, the MCP3421 is aimed at portable measurement applications in industrial, medical, consumer and automotive markets.