(Note: Kaustubh Gadgil and Robert Schreiber co-authored this technical article.)
With the increased trend toward smaller systems, every square millimeter of printed circuit board (PCB) area matters. At the same time, with the increased demand for data, more sensors need to be monitored.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can significantly reduce PCB footprint, increase channel density, and leverage higher integration of other components and features with TI’s small data converters, providing more value in a smaller size.
With advancement in design and packaging technologies, electronic components have gotten smaller. As shown in Figure 1, TI’s latest single-channel ADC, ADS7042, is available in a 2.25-mm2 footprint, nearly half the size of comparable ADCs of a decade ago. Similarly, TI’s latest single-channel DAC, DAC53401, is one-fourth the size of comparable DACs of a decade ago. Likewise, for multi-channel applications, TI’s latest 8-channel ADC (ADS7138) and DAC (DAC53608), are both offered in a footprint of 9 mm2 (~1 mm2 per channel).
Figure 1: TI’s smallest data converters
These tiny data converters allow you to reduce the PCB size for space-constrained designs or pack more channels into the same PCB size, or both.
Many systems use discrete components and passives to implement a variety of analog functions, such as signal conditioning, biasing and comparators. Because TI’s smaller data converters integrate these functions, they eliminate many discrete and passive components, thereby reducing PCB size, simplifying design, improving performance and increasing reliability.
Some examples of such integration include:
Figure 2: Integrated reference and buffer in DAC53401
Another example is the ADS7138 shown in Figure 3, which does not need a driver amplifier at the input for most applications, again saving PCB area and cost.
Figure 3: ADS7138 eliminates the need for an external amplifier
Figure 4: DAC53401 biasing an LED
Figure 5: DAC53401 offers access to the feedback path of its internal amplifier
As shown in Figure 6, the ADS7138 integrates a digital comparator function with features such as programmable thresholds, hysteresis and event counter, which significantly reduce the possibility of getting a false alarm.
Figure 6: ADS7138 as a digital comparator
A smaller data converter not only enables remote sensor conditioning, it also enables remote data processing. Local processing improves the performance of the remote sensor, reduces the response time in the event of an alarm, and frees up some processing bandwidth in the central processor.
Some examples include:
Figure 7: Averaging feature inside ADS7138
Figure 8: ADS7138 as ADC and GPIO
Figure 9: DAC53401 generating multiple waveforms
Figure 10: ADS7138 with CRC on input and output data
As shown in Figure 11, DACs like the DAC53401 and DAC43401 use CRC to make sure that whatever is written to or loaded from the nonvolatile memory or EEPROM is not corrupted.
Figure 11: DAC53401 with CRC on NVM
Integrating these analog functions and digital features may lead to a more complex integrated circuit, but it can greatly reduce overall system complexity by adding processing and diagnostic capabilities.
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