One of my favorite movies growing up was the science fiction film “Fantastic Voyage,” in which a submarine with a team of scientists are shrunk to molecular size and injected into a man in order to find and destroy a life-threatening brain tumor. In the ensuing decades since the movie we have witnessed a remarkable trend in the miniaturization of electronics. No, we cannot shrink submarines for injection into our bodies (not yet, anyway) but advances in the miniaturization of semiconductor products have enabled swallow-able capsules packed with cameras and sensors to provide actual real-time reports from inside our bodies!

I was thinking about Fantastic Voyage during my chat with the product manager of two new, very tiny and very precise digital-to-analog converters (DACs). Among their many uses, DACs are found in homes in which appliances, lights, heat and other devices are managed from a single control panel. The panel might have a digital window blinds control, into which the homeowner enters a digital number (1 for dark and 10 for full sunshine) which gets converted into an analog signal that, in turn, controls a motor which opens or closes the blinds for the desired amount of sunshine. For each device or appliance being controlled through you'll need a separate DAC. This increases the size of the controlling device, which adds to its cost. All those DACS - and other components - consume a lot of power, too, making it expensive to buy and even more expensive to operate over time.

Our two new AD5679R and AD5674R DACs are unique because they are the first single-supply, sixteen channel DACs on the market to come in a single package. Sixteen channels means one DAC can control sixteen devices - double the number of any other DAC on the market today. Running off a single supply of 2.7v to 5.5v means these DACs can run on the power generated by a couple of AA batteries. For designers building controllers for industrial sites, processing plants, communication test equipment and other places where extreme precision is required, the AD5679R provides 16 bits of precision. The 12 bit AD5674R DAC can still provide a high degree of control for less demanding applications, such as our window blinds example. (The math is only a little scary. When you have 16 bits the number of different combinations of ones and zeroes of those sixteen bits (0000000000000000, 0000000000000001, 0000000000000010 and so on…) is over 65,000! In the 12-bit version of our new DAC you still have almost 5,000 possible combinations.)

Analog Devices’ new DACs enable designers to do more within their products by freeing up space and power without sacrificing accuracy. You can learn more about these two industry-leading DACs by visiting the product pages for the AD5679R and AD5674R. It’s exciting to think of all the new tech these DACs will enable. Although I’m not expecting a miniature submarine just yet.