Thursday, February 22, 2007

New analog circuits could impact consumer electronics

Advances in digital electronic circuits have prompted the boost in functions and ever- smaller size of such popular consumer goods as digital cameras, MP3 players and digital televisions. But the same cannot be said of the older analog circuits in the same devices, which process natural sights and sounds in the real world. Because analog circuits haven't enjoyed a similar rate of progress, they are draining power and causing other bottlenecks in improved consumer electronic devices.
Now MIT engineers have devised new analog circuits they hope will change that. Their work was discussed at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco Feb. 11-15.
"During the past several decades engineers have focused on allowing signals to be processed and stored in digital forms," said Hae-Seung Lee, a professor in MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). "But most real-world signals are analog signals, so analog circuits are an essential part of most electronic systems."
Analog circuits are used to amplify, process and filter analog signals and convert them to digital signals, or vice versa, so the real world and electronic devices can talk to each other. Analog signals are continuous and they vary in size, whereas digital signals have specific or discrete values.