Which type of "analog" designer are you? - Embedded.com

Which type of “analog” designer are you?

I meet and speak with many engineers doing some analog design as part of their project, and they fall various categories, with some blurring of the boundaries. Starting at one side of the spectrum and swinging across to the other, I see:

  • The software engineer who has to do a little bit of analog (or a power-supply); he or she is usually not a happy camper
  • The novice, who doesn’t know why all this analog is needed, since everything “out there” is digital these days and, anyway, the project is mostly digital circuitry, processors, and code
  • The engineer who acknowledges that the unavoidable laws of physics dictate that certain functions, requirements, and constraints–such as line drivers, digital I/O, signal integrity, sensors and transducer interfacing, noise/EMI/RF–mandate “analog” thinking whether they like it or not.
  • The engineer who knows some functions are better done using analog circuitry and some are better executed in digital form, as a function of performance, accuracy, speed, power, cost, and many other parameters and priorities–and chooses accordingly
  • And finally, the die-hard analog designer who will never implement a function digitally if it can be done by an analog circuit; and who will never accept digital closed-loop control of a power supply; if it were even remotely practical to use analog circuitry for everything, he or she would.

What kind of designer are you? Are you too blinded by a bias–either from lack of experience or too much experience–that you can't look at the different ways of accomplishing the project goals, and matching them with respect to the project's priorities? That's what real engineering is all about. ♦

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