July 23, 2009 -- Configurable analog ICs have been available in various forms for years, seemingly making less of an impression on the market than their digital cousins, FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays). The current economic situation suddenly makes the concept of programmable analog standard products more attractive, however. The need to stay on the leading edge of design practice in a product area but without a lot of design cost and without the end-user demand that could justify taking any one design into production fits perfectly with the benefits of these devices. Their day may finally be at hand.
If this is programmable analog’s day in the sun, though, a big question is on the table: What design method should you use with these chips? Does the traditional, intuition-based analog flow — depending as it does mainly on breadboarding for verification — make sense? Or will users find flows such as those that designers use for FPGAs—system-level languages on the front end and simulation for verification—more appropriate? The answer is both complex and instructive.
By Ron Wilson, Executive Editor, EDN
This brief introduction has been excerpted from the original copyrighted article.