Richard York, ARM
EDN.com (December 15, 2013)
Mixed-signal silicon design, bringing the worlds of analog and digital technology onto a single die, has never been an easy task. Formerly, the analog and digital teams would work independently on their designs, leaving the place and route team with the thankless task of integrating everything onto a single chip. A microcontroller design, with all of its carefully thought out peripherals, would be routed leaving analog-sized holes for the oscillator, ADC and transceivers needed to complete the design.
The first real test of the design would be undertaken with the first silicon on the laboratory test bench, a potentially risky process that inevitably resulted in one or more metal fixes before mass production could ramp up. Thankfully, with the advances in sophistication of EDA design tools, with their sophisticated integrated mixed-signal analysis capability, the chances of finding potential issues when merging digital peripherals with analog blocks has significantly increased. In turn, the risks, and potential costs due to errors, have dropped significantly, making the development of silicon devices with peripherals and features highly attuned to vertical market needs, considerably more attractive.
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