Understanding state of the art in ADCs
The article investigates key parameters that enable users to choose the right ADC based not only on performance, but cost and other tangible and intangible aspects of converters
There are many dimensions of performance to analog-to-digital converter (ADC) technology. Some of which are listed in Table 1. These are common metrics for which ADCs may be selected and have value for certain areas of interest.
Until the late 1980s, military requirements tended to drive data-converter markets. Military needs were driven by radar, communications applications and EMP
Today, designers, especially in commercial applications, expect multiple dimensions of converter performance, in many cases, up to four or five. Therefore, parameters such as power consumption, SNR, SFDR, input bandwidth and cost must all be optimized. High-speed converters once reserved for military and perhaps high-end test equipment are finding applications in industrial and consumer products. Notable applications include cellular infrastructure
As software-defined systems become more common, performance expectations for converters continue to increase, generally remaining one step ahead of actual converter performance. In general, significant upward pressure exists on SNR and SFDR and downward pressure on pricing. To a large degree, these market pressures are working as SNR performance is experiencing performance jumps not entirely predicted by reports by Walden
While performance will continue to improve in the varied dimensions, end users can affect the pace that these improvements occur by providing performance feedback to ADC manufacturers. Only when designers know exactly which specifications to target will they know how to optimize the designs, trading off one performance for another in a meaningful and useful manner.
What are the requirements?
While there are many dimesions of performance, there are always a few key specifications of interest. These specifications are key to a broad range of applications and offer a view into widely accepted parameters and how they enable certain features as well as how they interact with other parameters.
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