Inside a DSP Solution Lies Analog
Pop the lid on a digital signal processing (DSP) solution and you find advanced technology. DSP technology is the core -- performing millions of calculations each second. It's the engine driving the electronics revolution in areas such as high-speed, secure connections for Internet commerce, wireless connections for both voice and data communications, and digital home entertainment. However, to be an effective solution for these or any other applications, the DSP needs analog help. In fact, if you look inside any DSP solution, you'll find a DSP chip surrounded by mixed-signal and analog technology. Mixed-signal technology in data converters takes analog signals such as sound and light, converts them to digital bits, and delivers them to the DSP. This process acts in reverse once the DSP has processed those bits. Analog technology manages the power requirements of the DSP ensuring voltages are regulated to appropriate tolerances. And analog technology that amplifies currents to desired levels so that, for example, signals can be transmitted efficiently over today's copper telephone lines. As the world leader in DSP solutions, TI has always been an innovator in both digital signal processing and in mixed-signal / analog technology. That innovation has resulted in TI being number one in the DSP market and number one in the analog market - a unique position no other semiconductor company can claim.
Meeting the Analog Challenge :
The push for higher performance and faster speeds is well known in digital electronics. Clearing those types of design hurdles requires more advanced analog technology. The drive to lower the size, weight and power consumption of portable digital applications pushes analog integrated circuit (IC) manufacturers to increase the functionality and improve the packaging of their devices. In higher - volume, standardized applications, manufacturers are looking to integrate digital and analog technologies on single silicon piece. That raises challenges in many areas including design and process technology.
Increased Functionality :
As the performance of digital applications increases, the demand on mixed-signal and analog solutions increases in direct proportion. Increased application performance takes a variety of shapes including higher speeds, increased processing power, longer battery life, reduced size and lower cost. Meeting these performance demands usually means integrating the functions of multiple devices on fewer or, better yet, a single chip. Examples of increased functionality in mixed-signal/analog are evident in audio amplifiers in wireless communications, in data converters and data transmission in personal computers. The drive for increased functionality will intensify as electronics become more powerful, personalized and portable. That means integrating more analog functions on a single chip.
Packaging Innovations :
Portability is also behind the drive for packaging innovations. Shrinking the size of electronic devices ultimately comes down to shrinking the integrated circuits inside the device. Moving to higher density circuits raises many new design issues for both analog and digital designers including increased signal noise and efficient printed circuit board layouts. Ultra-small packaging for analog ICs -- the size of a fingernail -- with industry standard pinout are essential to building portable or even wearable electronic devices in the future.
Challenges of Integration :
Ultimately, the push for reduced size, weight and cost can result in the integration of digital and analog functionality on a single piece of silicon. In applications where end-user needs are well defined and firmly established, it often makes economic sense to follow the integration trend to a single chip solution. In the future, the idea of a cellular phone on a chip is a very real possibility.
Integrating digital and analog raises another level of design issues for both analog and digital manufacturers. For each design, the optimum process technology -- analog versus digital -- must be determined. The need for shielding from noise and crosstalk must be addressed. Clearly, semiconductor companies will need both analog and digital expertise to meet the design challenges of integration.
Texas Instruments: Building Leadership
in Mixed-Signal/Analog :
TI is the market and technology leader in the mixed-signal and analog markets. This advantage translates into some significant synergy in the development of both product and process roadmaps. As a result, TI is well equipped to meet the analog market challenges – increased functionality, packaging innovations and integration. The range is from technically advanced building blocks to highly integrated solutions. TI is the pioneer in the IEEE 1394 high performance serial bus. This data transfer standard will enable a seamless digital home environment by connecting devices such as digital camcorders, digital VCRs, digital video disks and digital TVs to a central PC-like hub. The analog driver on a mixed-signal chip in the 1394 connection provides the bandwidth needed to enable real-time, affordable data transmission. TI has both the experience and the breadth of product line to implement 1394 technology quickly and easily. That will open up tremendous opportunity for DSP-centric equipment in the converging markets of communications, computing and entertainment. The 1394 family of products provides a high-level of functionality on both the link layer digital chip and the physical layer mixed-signal chip. These 1394 products are a critical element of TI's portfolio of advanced analog building blocks. Within the DSP solutions for wireless communications lie several analog elements including analog base band, power management and radio frequency (RF) components. TI has decided strengths and established positions in both analog base band and power management. In addition, TI announced a new family of RF products in 1997. These RF ICs enable TI to provide all the major system blocks for digital cellular, personal communications systems (PCS) and digital cordless phone applications.
TI's analog innovation is a critical part of the DSP solution for asymmetrical digital subscriber line (ADSL) technology. ADSL is a digital communications service that delivers significantly higher speeds over ordinary telephone lines than today's analog modems. In addition to the programmable DSP, TI's solution contains several analog elements including a new line driver/receiver -- the THS6002. This device, which features four amplifiers, delivers the high current output needed to drive data over standard phone lines with minimal distortion. This high-speed, innovative device is ideally suited to ADSL applications.
To meet the challenge of smaller footprint and lower weight, TI has introduced the PowerPAD™, an innovative IC package. The patented PowerPAD design uses an exposed thermal pad, which can be soldered directly to a printed circuit board to provide extra heat sinking. It allows smaller designs, higher-density circuitry and better performance. The PowerPAD is the type of breakthrough packaging needed in mixed-signal/analog to advance the digital revolution.
Capitalizing on the Analog Opportunity
The analog market reached $20 billion in 1997, according to Dataquest. That represents a 16 percent growth over the '96 market. Looking forward, ICE forecasts a 16 percent compound annual growth rate to the year 2000 for analog ICs. Clearly, the analog market continues to represent an attractive opportunity for TI and other semiconductor manufacturers.
Analog technology will enable the proliferation of DSP into many new affordable applications in the areas of voice and data communication, entertainment, digital motor control, and health and safety, to name just a few. As a result, the market for DSP solutions will explode to more than $50 billion over the next 10 years -- up from $3.5 billion in '96. As DSP solutions proliferate, so will innovative analog technology. Success will require expertise in digital, analog and mixed-signal design. TI is the market leader in the DSP, analog and mixed-signal markets. Pop the lid on a DSP solution from TI and you will see innovation.