February 21, 2008 -- By making analog circuits easier to design and simulate, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology hope to further the cause of analog while enabling engineers to incorporate lower-power circuitry into their products. In the same way that field- programmable gate arrays have spawned advances in digital signal processing, the Georgia Tech researchers believe their large-scale field-programmable analog array (FPAA) has the potential to seed growth in analog.
Current versions of these chips are unlikely to make it into any but the most demanding specialist applications, such as simulating the neural signal processing done by biological organisms. Nevertheless, they make it possible to design, prototype and test systems quickly and easily, without having to fabricate new chips.
Moreover, FPAA technology allows a wide range of less-skilled users to try out sophisticated, low-power techniques developed by the analog signal-processing community, said Paul Hasler, a professor at Georgia Tech (Atlanta). "Rough estimates suggest there are around 3,000 analog engineers in the world," said Hasler, who has been focusing on the application of FPAA technology. "Compare that with the number of system designers, those working in DSP, etc.; even the most conservative numbers are above a million."
By Sunny Bains, EE Times Contributing Editor
This brief introduction has been excerpted from the original copyrighted article.
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