Digital-only analog integrated circuits.
Although today's electronic systems implement most of their functionality in the digital domain, several analog operations still remain necessary, e.g. sensor conditioning, amplification, filtering and analog-to-digital/digital-to-analog conversion. For reasons of cost and miniaturization, the circuits implementing these analog functions are preferably integrated in today's nanometer CMOS technology. But this gives rise to two important problems. First, the raw "analog" performance (e.g. gain) of the core transistors is decreasing in these technologies. Second, the supply voltage has shrunk to only 1 volt, which dramatically limits the voltage signal swing. As noise sources remain unchanged and interference by surrounding digital circuits is even increasing, this severely limits the dynamic range, which makes the design of analog circuits increasingly challenging. Moreover, migration from one technology node to a newer one is a very difficult step because essentially every building block needs to be redesigned from scratch one transistor at a time. This is in contrast to the highly automated digital design flow. Therefore, the traditional way of building analog circuits needs to be rethought and migrated toward a more digital approach. The goal of this project is to investigate enabling techniques in this direction. The core idea is to use signal representations that can be represented by 2-level ("digital") waveforms.
- See also: Digital-only analog integrated circuits