Tag Archives: Europe

Back from ECCTD 2011


After the crystal-clear scientific presentations at ECCTD, I'm now back in the mist again.

So, I’m back from ECCTD 2011 since late Wednesday, and up here at the southern edge of the northern half of Sweden, the mornings are misty and the leaves are turning yellow. Visiting Linköping was every bit as pleasant as I had expected. The conference was held at Linköping Konsert & Kongress, which is beautifully located at the center of the city, right next to the Linköping Cathedral.

The conference

The conference was excellently organized by the Electronics Systems division at Linköping University and the conference committee. I was particularly impressed with the student helpers. Not only were they helpful, kind and attentive, but quite a few of them also turned out to be passionate about data-converter research and development [one of the healthier states of the human mind, BTW 😉 ] and we had several interesting conversations on the topic. I couldn’t possibly have felt more welcome.

Professor Borivoje Nikolić speaks about managing variability.

After we all had been welcomed by the conference general chair, prof. Lars Wanhammar, Linköping University, the conference started with a plenary presentation “Managing Variability for Ultimate Energy Efficiency” given by prof. Borivoje Nikolić from UC Berkeley, USA. The conference then split up into various sessions which are described in detail in the program. ECCTD is a rather broad conference, but there were at least three dedicated data-converter sessions: “Sigma-Delta Modulators“, “Data Converters“, and “Pipelined ADCs“. I had the honor of chairing “Pipelined ADCs“, and I presented my own contribution “Area Efficiency of ADC Architectures” in the “Data Converters” session. I might come back to the content of that paper in another post, but in short (for those of you that were not there), it surveys the chip area vs. performance in speed and resolution for just about every ADC implementation reported in the scientific literature all the way since 1974 – approximately 1500 papers. A normalized area measure

A_{Q} = \dfrac{A}{{2}^{ENOB}}

was proposed based on the observed correlation between absolute chip area (A) and effective resolution (ENOB). State-of-the-art AQ – a.k.a. “Area per effective quantization step” – was seen to be independent not only of ENOB, but also of sampling rate over a broad range of sampling rates and resolutions, respectively. It is also approximately independent of CMOS process node. Chip area per effective quantization step was then compared for individual architectures, and design guidelines derived for area-optimal ADC architecture selection at any given speed and resolution specification. It was seen that there are large differences in the peak area efficiency achieved with different ADC architectures. There is for example a factor of 3 difference between SAR and pipeline, and a factor of 10 between pipeline and flash. Such big area differences can translate to a lot of money if you’re developing high-volume ADCs. So make sure you get hold of this paper as soon as it comes up on IEEE Xplore.

The blogger as session chair. Photo: Mark Vesterbacka

Professor Mark Vesterbacka, Linköping University had to push the electronics in his mobile phone to the maximum in order to document my chairing efforts in spite of the low light. Thanks for sending the picture.

CWCP winner

I could notice a slight peak in blog visitors yesterday. I assume that many of you wanted to know who won the Connect-with-Converter Passion (CWCP) prize, and I apologize for not being as fast as Dr. J Jacob Wikner who was blogging live from ECCTD and managed to fire away several conference-related post on Mixed-Signal Electronics while ECCTD was still developing. One of them correctly revealing that we had a CWCP winner already after the first day. And the winner is:

CWCP-winner Kiran Kariyannawar

Kiran Kariyannawar from Ericsson AB, who showed the enthusiasm and dedication necessary to win the CWCP prize for ECCTD. Congratulations Kiran! Kiran was there together with other Ericsson colleagues to demonstrate The Connected Tree and how to transmit audio and video signals through the human body. Quite far out compared to most demonstrations I’ve seen at scientific conferences. Very fun (at lest from a tech nerd’s perspective), and I’m sure they will figure out a lot of applications for it eventually, although for now they didn’t seem quite sure what to do with it. At least not with the connected tree. I played a bit with the human-body transmission (by becoming the channel), and I think it could be great for DJ-ing. I was just about to get it to rock big time when I started to realize the other delegates need for less noise and gave it up. If only I had a few more minutes to work out that groove …

The next big thing in DJ-ing? Just intermittently add a human body connected between those metal plates – preferably in a rhythmic pattern – and you're all set.

Other impressions

The conference dinner was held at the Air Force Museum – a place I’m likely to return to again to have more time to look at everything. Most likely with the rest of the family. A few photos below will give you some idea of the location. Finding unorthodox locations that can make the conference dinner extra memorable is probably a real challenge to most organizers. Unless they start taking us to outer space and back, I believe that the abundant food stations in combination with the breathtaking beauty of sea life shown at Monterey Bay Aquarium (ISCAS 1998) will remain my personal favorite for the rest of my life, but with ECCTD 2011 now being among the top two. Excellent work!

A classic Swedish beauty.

Chopper techniques. Large implementation.

A peaceful dinner ...

A missile of some kind, with a sign in Swedish saying "DO NOT PUSH HERE". Now, how irresistible is that on a scale to ten? Photo: M. Reza Sadeghifar

Having been to a few conferences, you start to recognize some faces that keep coming back. I had the pleasure of meeting delegates I’ve recently met. Some at NORCHIP, some at ICECS, and others at IWADC. It was great seeing you all. That is the real value of going to conferences.

Peace! 

ECCTD 2011 face-recognition. Note that we observed a severe Linköping bias here that might be compensated for in "future work".

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Connect with Converter Passion at ECCTD 2011


Hi all, and sorry about the low posting frequency during the summer. Now I’m here again, and this time to announce the Connect with Converter Passion (CWCP) competition for ECCTD 2011 next week. As always, I want to take the opportunity to connect with blog readers, and to give you some visibility.

Same face – new conference

To win the prize (which is the glory of winning + some visibility on this blog), all you need to do is to be the first one to locate me during the conference and claim the prize. Couldn’t be much simpler. Since the Linköping University group that is organizing the conference has a strong history of winning the CWCP prize, I will discriminate slightly against them this time (sorry guys) – but just slightly – to give the rest of you a fair chance. Affiliates of Linköping University will not be allowed to claim the prize until the second day of the conference (Tuesday). But don’t forget to try, because it may still be up for grabs by then.

If you haven’t located me before that, Tuesday is also a safe day to find me, as I’m presenting my ECCTD contribution “Area Efficiency of ADC Architectures” in session T21, Data Converters (starting 15:50). Last chance is around the W33 session, Pipelined ADCs, which I’ll be chairing on Wednesday afternoon.

Looking forward to seeing you in Linköping next week.

Connect with Converter Passion at IWADC 2011



Anyone planning to attend IWADC 2011 – the international workshop on ADC and data converters – in Italy the coming week?  Then make sure to connect, and you may win the Connect-with-Converter Passion prize for IWADC 2011. The reward is to have yourself mentioned here on the blog (see winners from last years NORCHIP and ICECS here and here), and the only thing you need to do to win is to be the first attendee to locate me during the conference and claim the prize. Besides announcing and introducing the winner of the CWCP,  I also plan to highlight a few interesting papers, pick up the conference “vibes” and share it in my reporting from the conference. I’ll be interested to talk to all of you, so even if you didn’t win the CWCP race I will be very happy to hear what you have to say about the conference, tech blogs, or the data converter field in general. What are your views on ADC FOM, the data converter market and scientific trends for the next decade, and more …

Look for this face

If you haven’t found me before, a safe bet is around the High-efficiency Data Converters session (Thursday 14:15–15:45) where I will present my first contribution An empirical approach to finding energy efficient ADC architectures , or at the Poster Session II for which I am chair on Friday, and where I will also present my second contribution Using Figures-of-Merit to Evaluate Measured A/D-Converter Performance. For more details, see the “Going to Italy, Yes, Yes, Yes!” post, and the conference program.

Reader question: Why is the data converter market dominated by six US companies?


Who’s making a splash in the data converter market?

The Q&A section on this blog might not be too visible, but as you can see here, it actually works: steve asks this interesting question:

Why the $3B data converter market is dominated by the six US companies: ADI, TI, Maxim, LinearTech, National Semi and Intersil. Have any one heard of any data converter companies out of the US?

… and I felt it deserved a dedicated post where you can all have your say. So, what do you all think? And what other companies have you heard of? Do you even agree with steve that it is these six that dominate? If not, who are?

Edit: I’ll be working on the list(s) below, trying to get it as complete as I possibly can. With your help it should work. Just keep suggesting data converter companies to add here. My proposal is to limit the list to companies that provide stand-alone data converters and/or data converter IP. Companies providing data-converter related design services and expert consulting could of course be interesting too, and perhaps go into a second list. [That way I can include my own company, ADMS Design too 😉 ]

Edit 2011-04-09: As you might have heard, Texas Instruments is to acquire National Semiconductor. Read more about it here.

And then there were only five … 😉

The “Big Six”

As the question was asked by steve, we get the following list of six US data converter companies – dubbed the “Big Six” by jjwikner below – that (supposedly) dominate the ADC and DAC market. Here in alphabetical order:

The list is not written in stone. Have your say below. Should it be the big 3, 4, 5, 7 instead? How about data converter IP dominance – is that a completely different list of companies? And don’t forget the original question: why are all of these companies US-based? Something in the US water? Engineering tradition? Business culture? Choice of target applications? Are the leading Asian companies keeping their designs for in-house use, or did they simply bypass the stand-alone converter phase altogether? Are they now positioning themselves for the inevitable embedded data converter era by developing IP blocks for SoC designs?

The complete list?

To the best of my knowledge, and with the kind help of my blog readers, this is the “complete list” (*) of companies offering data converter IP or stand-alone parts. Again, in alphabetical order, and with the Big Six included:

(*) Allow the list a reasonable settling time constant, and please send me an email or post a comment below if you know of any company not included in the list, or have any other remarks.

NB: I have not necessarily made an assessment of the individual companies included in the list, and the list is therefore no statement of the quality or suitability of the products/IP offered for a particular purpose, nor an endorsement of the company itself.

The list seems very US and Euro-centric, but that’s my current horizon. I’m sure there must be some Asian companies out there. Scientific activity actually suggests that Asia is going to take over this business eventually. So, please enlighten me! Where are those Asian companies?

2011 IMEKO IWADC & IEEE ADC Forum


I recently rediscovered an old friend of mine – the IMEKO International Workshop on ADC, and I though it might be of interest to my blog readers to hear about this conference. It is purely data-converter oriented, so it certainly fits the profile for many of you. The official name I believe is 2011 IMEKO IWADC & IEEE 2011 ADC Forum, where IWADC stands for International Workshop on ADC Modeling, Testing and Data Converter Analysis and Design. It certainly sounds like my cup of tea.

–”Rediscovered“?

Well, … I’ve been aware of this conference for many years. Also, when scanning for source data to include in my large ADC performance survey, previous contributions to this conference would regularly show up on my radar because of their ADC relevance. What I mean is that I haven’t been to this conference for a long time now, but hopefully 2011 will be the year to correct that.

IWADC covers a broad range of data-converter topics – from design to modeling, measurement and error-correction. Check out the official call for papers for more information.

For someone like myself, who is interested in various aspects of data-converters, including characterization, modeling and error-correction techniques, this conference appears to be spot-on. I certainly hope to be able to go there this summer. If you’re anything like me, it’ll probably be worth a few clicks on the official site to see for yourself if you should go there too. Note that it is still possible to submit work! Deadline extended until Jan 15, 2011. I boldly promote this opportunity since, if I’m going there myself I obviously want as many as possible of my blog readers to be there too. A big happy family 🙂

In the event that I will actually contribute something, you are sure to hear about it right here on blog. In the meantime, just take a look at the venue and imagine yourself in the medieval town of Orvieto, Italy, 30 June to 1 July next summer … surrounded by like-minded data-converter enthusiasts and the various treasures of the Italian region of Umbria.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?