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Flat in Cork. Elated in Munich.

Posted by bdaly Employee Nov 22, 2016

The journey to Munich from Cork involves a 200 mile drive to Dublin airport Saturday night. Not exactly a great start to be greeted with a flat tire in my driveway before setting out. Luckily, I had time to get it repaired. I collected Michal Raninec and we were on our way. We stopped in a pub on the way to Dublin, for a massive steak and to watch Ireland beat New Zealand in rugby for the first time in 111 years of trying—just the fuel we needed for our long ride.


We arrived at the show in Munich on Sunday morning around 11 am. The convention centre in Munich is huge, it takes about 45 minutes to walk from one end of the place to the other. It even has 2 subway stops. So a lot of walking was needed just to get to the ADI booth, and then more walking to locate our precious boxes of LEGO.


The unboxing was a tense affair, literally a make or break moment. But the LEGO survived the long trek to Germany in remarkable condition. Michal and I were happy bunnies as we unboxed building after building, with only very minor damage to repair. The temperature was barely above freezing, as all the hangar doors were open to allow trucks and forklifts into the exhibition hall. ADI parkas are sadly not supplied. Despite the solid state of the LEGO city it still took us two full days to set up the demos and debug the few installation issues. We did all this while surrounded by a large construction crew, busily building the booth. There was plenty of swearing at us in Polish as we peppered the crew with requests, including replacing some damaged HDMI cables they had installed. (They had no idea that Michal understood what they were saying). Colourful language aside, we were ready to see if the demo would work as we intended.


It’s Showtime!

The show started Tuesday morning at 9 am. The reaction to the demo was overwhelmingly positive. In fact, the demo was so successful, many people didn’t even realize we had tons of technology integrated, they just wanted to take selfies of themselves with SMARTopolis. Not that the competition was all that stiff, especially if you just came from 200,000 sq. ft. of power supplies on display in the next exhibit hall. I’ve worked on power supplies in the past. Winding transformers is about as sexy as it gets.


The biggest accomplishment and sense of achievement was that we were able to display many different aspects of the ADI story with one demo. We were able to demonstrate how ADI is moving beyond silicon, with systems and modules in hardware, algorithms and the ADConnect cloud offering. We were able to highlight ADI’s focus areas within Industrial Sensing, Smart Cities, Buildings, Agriculture and Structural Health. Many people commented on it being their favourite demo at the entire show, both in terms of the visual impact, concept and execution. Fortunately, my boss was one of these. At least that is what he told me, he probably said the same to his other guys at the show.


A personal highlight was when a LEGO employee showed up. (And I thought I had the best job in the world). We spent the bones of an hour discussing many things, and I now have an open invitation to tour the Denmark LEGO factory (if I ever get up there). His role is developing the electronics for all LEGO products, from motors to sensors. Unfortunately for ADI, their requirements are not high speed/precision/accuracy, so we don’t do very much business with them.




To keep the LEGO theme going, we filled a traditional German beer glass, MaBkrug with LEGO studs, and had a competition where people had to guess how many pieces were inside. Amazingly the guy from LEGO guessed the closest. He estimated the volume of the glass, and divided it by the size of the stud (which he knew the dimensions of). Even more impressive was that he did this in less than 5 seconds. Earlier that day I watched three guys from our Analog Garage team spend an hour trying just to estimate the volume of the glass. Pi*r2*h isn’t easy to do in your head. The answer was 4876 pieces. The guy from LEGO guessed 4800.




It’s a Wrap.

Friday at 5 pm was a bittersweet moment. The end of a tiring week, and a long journey which began months ago, in the basement at home playing LEGO with my kids. The LEGO train had completed a total of 73km (46 miles). The Ferris wheel made 11,667 rotations. Everything was still working great at the end, although the cheese from the Smart Ag demo station was beginning to go off. I was extremely lucky to have such a brilliant team around me, which made it all come together.


Big thanks to:

  •     Mike Byrne and Mike Britchfield. Their trust to allow me take a big risk at such an important event.
  •     Melanie Huber and Bernhard Siegel, the show and booth coordinators in Munich.
  •     Tyler Schmitt for putting a superb structural health demo together.
  •     Michal Raninec for making my life very easy.
  •     Shane Clifford for the efforts on the ADConnect ThingWorx Mashups.
  •     Maithil Pachchigar, Erick Olsen, John Curtin, Antoine Descazot, Grainne Murphy, Mike Hennessy, Sudong Shu, Frederik Dostal & Shane Clifford for helping out on the demo all week.


It took us only 90 minutes to pack everything up. I immediately switched focus to my next task, heading to Vienna the next day to watch Ireland play Austria in a soccer World Cup qualifier.


That result was as successful as the demo; a victory for Ireland.



Click to Tweet:"Flat in Cork. Elated in Munich. A victory for Ireland. #ADIahead"

Greetings from Electronica.  As always, the event is filled with amazing new technologies. If you’re at all involved with ATE and ETM applications, there’s something I believe you really should see. Analog Devices has brought a revolutionary new MEMS switch technology to Electronica. It’s a true alternative to cumbersome, conventional relay approaches.


Anyone designing ATE and ETM application will know the tradeoffs when needing switches in their designs. Bandwidth limitations, linearity, operation at 0Hz/dc, package size, actuation lifetimes and reliability, to name but a few. There are some nice relay switching solutions out there today but none tick all the performance and ease of use boxes.  Increased performance in smaller form factors is also a constant focus for test and measurement equipment now more than ever. A perfect small form factor switching solution is key to driving new architectures and staying ahead in the industry.  This is where ADI’s new MEMS switch technology delivers an ideal overarching solution. 


Here are just a few of the benefits of this new MEMS switch technology:

 Smaller, more flexible and higher reliability test and measurement equipment – greatly reducing size, component count, and cost.

  • Reduced test time and time to market as a key component in multi-platform, multi-standard test systems
  • Platform simplification with integrated driver IC and multiplexer configurations for fan-out applications
  • Lowest and flattest insertion loss across the frequency band – maximizing platform sensitivity and increasing test accuracy.
  • Widest variety of test challenges from a single platform while delivering the highest performance measurements – making testing more cost-effective.


We will be demonstrating this new MEMS switch technology all during Electronica. It’s a great way to see for yourself how ADI can give you a competitive edge in ATE and ETM, aerospace and defense, healthcare, communications, and other key markets.


Here’s some ways to can learn more:

  • Talk with our experts at the ADI booth.
  • See Eric Carty’s presentation at the Embedded Platforms Conference — Nov. 10. (16:00)
  • Reserve your place for the joint presentations with Advantest on Nov. 10 (10:30, 12:00, 14:30). Space is limited, so contact us right away. Send an email to:


I look forward to seeing you during the show


You can find out more about what Analog Devices is doing at Electronica here.

 From making our mobile devices better and faster, to making possible innovations such as self-driving cars, smart cities and virtual emergency and operating rooms, the promise of 5G is intoxicating. What is much more sobering, however, are the evolutionary and revolutionary challenges facing device makers and network providers.


Enabling the 5G Evolution

The evolutionary path to 5G consists of incremental enhancements to 4G with Massive MIMO techniques providing significant improvements in spectral efficiency and  extending cellular operation up to emerging bands in the 3-GHz to 6-GHz range. There are opportunities for improvements in high frequency operation, bandwidth, reliability, power, size/weight, and cost, brought forth in enabling this radio form factor. We believe a system approach, such as the  RadioVerse development platform and ecosystem, will be essential to quickly and efficiently realizing true gains in these areas.



The Coming Revolution.

Getting more from the current state is a welcomed development as spectrum is seen as the lifeblood of the cellular industry. However, even with an expansion into the sub-6 GHz bands, 5G cannot support the exponentially growing demand, such data traffic increasing 10,000 fold within the next 20 years.


It’s that demand that’s fostering the coming revolution: the move to millimeter wave. While the sub 6-GHz range offers cellular bands in the hundreds of megahertz, the amount of potential spectrum above 20 GHz is in the tens of gigahertz. A promised land indeed, but one that must be tamed to fully realize the vision of 5G.


The cm/mmwave spectrum has been in use for communications for many years, primarily in aerospace and defense applications. Adapting it for use in commercial markets is where many of the challenges appear.


One of the major hurdles is overcoming the unfavorable propagation characteristics. Radio propagation at these frequencies is highly affected by atmospheric attenuation, rain, blockage (buildings, people, foliage), and reflections. Point-to-point links, are generally stationary, line-of-sight systems whereas the mobility requirements for 5G bring new challenges.


It is well known in the industry that beamforming will be required at high frequencies to overcome the path loss. The most cost effective method today is to use a hybrid system that combines analog RF beamforming and MIMO.  Along with beamforming, there are other significant considerations, including architecture and radio challenges. It is critical to design systems with power, size, and cost in mind from the start to bring these systems to reality.


As is often the case, challenges create opportunities. There is no shortage of either with 5G. Making the most of the opportunities ahead will require a rigorous systems engineering approach to leverage the best technologies throughout the signal chain. That includes expertise in a variety of processes and materials development, such GaAs, SiGe and CMOS. There is also much work to be done with design techniques and modeling, and high-frequency testing and manufacturing.


Committed to Bringing the Revolution Forward.

With continued RF technology advances and a rich history in radio systems engineering, Analog Devices brings a strong contribution to the 5G microwave effort. We believe our experience in aerospace and defense, as well as consumer-focused markets, provides the insight needed to develop viable 5G solutions. Our unique bits to microwave capability present a truly different choice for customers. One that can help our customers pioneer new solutions that both drive the evolution and lead the revolution in 5G.


Click Here to Tweet: ADI paves the evolutionary path to 5G #EngineerZone @Adi_News

I didn’t grow up in the handiest of households. I think my dad had a 16 ounce hammer and a flat blade screwdriver – that’s about it. With these tools I could do a lot. In fact I could do most anything an 8 year old would want to do. But as I got older, I realized that sometimes those tools didn’t quite fit the application and I needed to force them to accomplish the job. A couple of years ago, I needed to replace my kitchen sink and realized I couldn’t get access to the bolts holding it to the counter top.  After trying to squeeze my arm and a pair of pliers between the cabinet base and the sink wall, I eventually gave up. It never occurred to me that I needed a basin wrench; but I did. I went out and bought one and in 2 minutes the job was done. 


In school I had a friend who professed her dad was a genius. She claimed he could design a radio “MacGyver” style with a light bulb, some wire and a speaker. I don’t know if he actually could, but I do know that if he did, it wasn’t the most eloquent design or the most efficient. Electronic design is no different than carpentry when it comes to strategy (or debug for that matter). The right components and tools can make all of the difference between a good design and a great design. A good design is one that gets the job done while a great design is one that meets or exceeds performance with simplicity and efficiency.


While there are many options when it comes to radio design, products like the AD9361 and AD9371 offer a great combination of flexibility, performance and efficiency. In my recent article “Where Zero IF Wins: 50% smaller PCB Footprint at 1/3 the Cost”, I share some of the benefits these integrated transceivers offer and how new wireless designs can benefit from these devices. The AD9361 and AD9371 meet the significant challenge of delivering high performance with optimized power and space requirements. Just like using a screwdriver as a chisel will get the job done, other options are available to design a radio but likely involve a compromise in either performance or efficiency. The elegance and efficiency of the AD9361 and AD9371 offer a unique value proposition when both performance and effectiveness are important to your application. 


Please click to the right to Tweet: Don't MacGyver your radio design ADI's RadioVerse has the solution #EngineerZone 


Handle With Care

Posted by bdaly Employee Oct 18, 2016

I had somehow been granted permission and a good-sized budget to create a demo with LEGO® bricks.

Now I had to do it.


Within an hour of asking around, I had 20 volunteers. The LEGOs arrived, and we got the 20 employees and their kids gathered in one large conference room for a Brick-a-thon. We made a time-lapse video of the whole thing. Each kid (and their parent) was given a section of the city to build. Once each section was complete, it was added to the city. It was a huge success on all fronts. The kids got to be part of a unique day, and I got the LEGO city built in one sitting.


I was exhausted by the end of it, as were the crew of helpers I had, and the kids too. The ADI Cork office was too small for the Brick-a-thon crew, so we had the event in a hotel. But that meant we had to dismantle things slightly, drive everything back to the ADI office, and reconstruct it there.




Next step in the process was to integrate the different Smart City demos into the scale model, which had come to be known as SMARTopolis. We used a pole in each part of the city where we had a demo. This way, visitors could immediately go to their specific area of interest, reducing the burden on the booth staff. It also helped with the occupancy sensing and parking guidance demos where we needed to mount BLIP cameras over the scene. That only left one big question:  how do we get it to Munich?


We needed to MacGyver a solution so we could ship the LEGO city without it falling into a soup of different blocks that would take weeks to reassemble. We had to ensure the LEGO buildings would survive shipment to Munich. So we did a trial run. We had a courier that went between our Cork and Limerick office. We wrapped one building, shipped it to Limerick, got it shipped back, and checked how intact it was after the journey. Michael and I hoped that the buildings would be relatively intact when we got to Munich, and that we’d have only to layout the city and do minimal repairs. Take a look at this video to see how well our LEGO building survived the round trip between Cork to Limerick.


Cork to Limerick is one thing, Cork to Munich is another; stay tuned...


Please Tweet: ADI stays Ahead of What's Possible, brick by brick #IoT #EngineerZone


Like Getting Hit by a Brick

Posted by bdaly Employee Oct 11, 2016

After another day of fruitless searching for a cool demo idea that checked all the boxes Mike laid out for me, I was at home building LEGOS with my kids. And the answer was right in front of me, LEGOs! We could build a scale model city with LEGO® bricks and integrate several demos into it. The scale model would let us demonstrate Occupancy Sensing, Parking Guidance, Structural Health Monitoring and Smart Agriculture in a way that positions each demo as a piece of the bigger “industrial” picture that ADI wants to present. We could feed the information from each demo into one large, integrated dashboard to further emphasize a “single, integrated solution.”


It was all starting to come together. We’d be showcasing algorithms, cloud services, connectivity. In other words, more than just components and technology. We’d be demonstrating a different philosophy, how we view ourselves and our ability to help customers.


There were other equally important aspects to this, too. LEGOs are fun! People just about everywhere love them - this will definitely attract a crowd to the booth. Plus, LEGOs make for interactive demos. I’m a firm believer in these intangible aspects to customer engagements, whether they are customer visits or trade shows. I care about the user experience as much as whether the data that is being displayed is 18 bits or 20 bits of resolution. I guess that means I belong more in Sales and Marketing than in Applications. 


The Pitch

So I called up Mike to make this potentially career ending request. “Hi Mike, I want to play with LEGOs for the next few months.” I have a long history at ADI of potentially career ending requests, and this did not rank in the top five, so I was confident of at least holding onto my job.


No worries, though. Mike and the organizing committee liked the idea. It reminded me of a scene from the classic Mel Brooks movie, Blazing Saddles that was ingrained in my brain from childhood. There’s a line in the movie, “The fool’s going to do it.” That’s kind of how I felt. I just got approval to play with LEGOs as a high priority. They were actually going to let me do it.  


The Fool Has To Do It

After negotiating a LEGO budget of $2500, I went about designing the layout for the city, and how the demos would be integrated. $2500 worth of LEGOs is a lot; more than 20,000 bricks. So rather than asking my kids to spend 12 hours a day of their entire summer vacation building LEGOs until their fingers bled, I figured we could make it a family fun day here in the ADI Cork office. Maybe we could get employees to bring in their kids, and build the whole thing in one afternoon. There seemed to be a lot of interest when I asked people around the office. After several more conversations persuading ADI’s HR people that this was not child labor, we made the arrangements for our Brick-a-thon.



For the record, my kids would have happily slaved away all summer building the sets on their own. But I didn’t want them to miss out on our amazing Irish summer, where temperatures can get as high as 70° F, and the sun can be seen on an almost weekly basis.


The journey to Electronica continues next week with the Brick-a-thon in Handle With Care  


Click to Tweet: “The fool’s going to do it.” One engineer's wild idea that’s just crazy enough to work. #EngineerZone #IoT


The Really, Really Big Ask

Posted by bdaly Employee Oct 4, 2016

A few months ago, my boss, Mike Byrne, asked me to come up with a trade show demo. OK, sure. Then he said it had to somehow be interactive, eye-catching, fun and impressive. Oh, it also had to showcase several different IoT technologies. And while I’m at it, make sure it reflects ADI’s move from silicon to solutions.


On top of all that, the trade show is Electronica. The show is in Munich, the center of Europe’s industrial giants. It’s a ludicrously big show: 1.3 million square feet of exhibition space, 4 days, 75,000 engineers. That’s a lot of check shirts, sandals, and pocket protectors. ADI takes Electronica very seriously. It’s a big deal. Especially for our industrial customers.



The ADI booth is a two-level suite, with demo space, a café, and a dozen meeting rooms booked solid. Scanning through the schedule, you see the who’s who of ADI’s most important customers. No pressure. No pressure at all. And that’s what I kept telling myself every day as I searched for a big idea. I'll tell you more about it in my next blog: Like Getting Hit by a Brick


Building Toward Electronica

Posted by EdGrasso Employee Sep 27, 2016

We’re building an innovative IoT demo for Electronica. Brick by brick.

Follow the story in the coming weeks at






Images:, shop

I've always been more of a Star Wars person (I know I know, Trekkies vs Star Wars Fans, but can't we all just get along?), but that doesn't mean I don't love and appreciate Star Trek. Clearly as evidenced by the work I do in the space group at ADI, I've always had a love and passion for space and the possibility of discovering what's out there. Who would have thought 10 years ago that we'd be able to send a space probe next to Jupiter in the thick of the worst radiation belts in the entire solar system and perhaps once and for all discover what makes the earth's magnetic field tick? (I wrote a blog about this on The Engineering Mind if you'd like to read more about Juno.) I think humanity has always been fascinated by the idea that we are not alone in this universe, that maybe there's some other sentient species out there trying to survive just like we are, wondering the same thing.


Many people seem to believe that the wonders of science-fiction past are still the science fiction of today. When will we ever have space travel for the masses? Where's today's Starship Enterprise? Will we ever put humans on Mars and actually grow potatoes??? Wait, that's a different movie...


The thing is, much of the technology used in the Star Trek TV series is around today and we don't even bat an eye at it. That flip phone (which I would argue that contrary to the meme below didn't become mainstream until the 90's)? Star Trek had them in 1966. iPads? Star Trek had those too. Video conferencing? Surprise! That was 80's science fiction. And who could forget Geordi La Forge and his VISOR? While slightly different in purpose, it does look very similar to Google Glass. Though, that never really caught on as much as I'd hoped it would. Imagine playing Pokémon Go with Google Glass, it would be the ultimate augmented reality experience! But I digress.





But just how close are we to other memorable pieces of Trek Tech, will we ever get to say "Beam me up Scotty" and actually mean it? Maybe so. There have been a few successful experiments with teleportation, although all scientists have managed to teleport have been photons and laser beams. Still, this is miles ahead of where we've come from.


Perhaps the phaser is the Trek Tech that is the most memorable to me. Probably because when going into movie theaters my dad would always say "phones on stun" (silence your phones kids!) to get my brother and I to put our cell phone "communicators" away. Phasers might also be the tech we are closest to completing. With multiple scientists and companies working on high power laser weapons, science fiction may soon become science fact.


So when you are in the theaters this weekend enjoying the new Star Trek Beyond movie, think about this: If you could pick any Star Trek Tech to make a reality right now, what would it be?

Captain’s blog. Stardate 72216.8

I’ve received an urgent request to mark the premiere of Star Trek Beyond with some thoughts about how ADI technology could have played a role aboard the original USS Enterprise. The idea is, as a certain crew member of the NCC-1701 might have said, “Fascinating.”


Live long and prosper. At least just a bit more.

Watch enough Star Trek episodes, and even a casual viewer will notice that crew members in red shirts seem to die a lot. Had those red shirts come from Hexoskin, ADI technology could have helped gather location and environmental data, beamed them to the cloud for analysis, and relayed a text to the wearer’s communicator to get him the heck out of danger.


I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain!

For all the matter/anti-matter horsepower of the Enterprise’s warp drive engines, poor Montgomery Scott, the ship’s chief engineer, was always being berated by Captain Kirk because there was never enough power to get out of whatever situation had been written into the script. Engineering can be a thankless job.


If only Scotty had access to our very own EngineerZone. Instead of screaming through the intercom, he could have calmly posted a question about dilithium crystals and had a wealth of solutions pop up right there on his Android or iOS communicator.


Are you out of your Vulcan mind?

When it came to bedside manner, Leonard McCoy, the Enterprise’s cantankerous chief medical officer was no Hawkeye Pierce or Derek Shepherd. You got the feeling he didn’t really want to see patients and they didn’t want to see him. If only they had the remote monitoring capabilities offered by ADI and LifeQ. Non-invasive body monitoring devices would capture essential physiological data and advanced bio mathematical algorithms would combine to help manage and maintain the crew’s health and wellbeing. Plus, it would be great to hear McCoy snarl, “I’m a doctor, not a micro-electro-mechanical-bio-mathematical engineer.”


Captain’s blog. Supplemental

It’s hard to improve on something as unique and special as Star Trek. Yet, for all its visionary technology and innovation, I still think a little help from ADI might have made it even better. And the Enterprise and her crew might have not only boldly gone where no man had gone before, they might have also gone Ahead of What’s Possible.


Trekkie or Trekker? Whichever you call yourself, you probably have your own ideas about how to use ADI technology in the 23rd century? And you don't have to wait 200 years share them. Comment here today.


Click to Tweet: Doomed Redshirts, balky warp drives & cranky Dr. McCoy. See how ADI technology could help on the USS Enterprise.


Image Source:


I’m a doctor not a blogger! Oh wait - I am a blogger.

In 1966 Gene Roddenberry let his creativity run wild and brought his vision of the 23rd century to life. He assembled a mixed race crew aboard the USS Enterprise for a five-year space mission. Their mission is well known to us, “to explore new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.” And they went. The crew of the Star Trek took us on many adventures and expanded the limits of our imaginations. Fast forward to 2016 and Star Trek is a phenomenon. Multiple television series and movies, conventions and let’s not forget the countless catch-phrases.


One year earlier, in 1965, Ray Stata followed his vision and co-founded Analog Devices. What started as an op amp-based company in Cambridge, evolved into an integrated circuit industry first thought leader and is now a highly successful, global organization. ADI products merged into the consumer market in the 80’s with the popular devices of the time: Sony disc players. On the heels of our 50th year celebration, our products take flight regularly and soar through space to capture photos of “new worlds”.


This Friday, Star Trek will celebrate fifty years of success with the premiere of the new movie,

Star Trek Beyond. Seeing the similarities between our own ADI story and Star Trek, I asked employees to share their thoughts on two topics: If Star Trek were conceptualized today, what ADI technology would you use or re-imagine to build the USS Enterprise? OR Are you are Trekkie? Did Star Trek inspire you in any way with your decision to become an engineer?


Over the next three days we will share our thoughts with you, starting with this blog. Without further ado I bring you the minds of the ADI crew, as they continue their mission of staying “Ahead of What’s Possible”.


Mark Cantrell Product Applications Engineer, offers a few improvements for the Enterprise.

"The world of Star Trek is a dangerous place.  And it is not just the Romulans and Klingons shooting at you that can cause grievous bodily harm.  The Enterprise itself handles enough energy to flip the massive star ship past light speed with an ominous whirr.  Every panel in engineering controls lethal power and every Jeffries tube has access to raw antimatter.  All this raw energy means that the need for personnel safety in controlling the ship has to advance as fast warp technology itself.


ADI’s isolated control and communication technology is in its infancy right now at ADI with the iCoupler digital isolators.  These devices will be essential to safely control the ships systems, and isolate sections of the ship in case of a severe hull breach.  At the rate that ADI is innovating its safety devices, they will be more than a match for the awesome power of a star ship, so Captain Kirk does not run out of engineers before he gets to the final battle.

Next time you want to stick a pointy tool into the antimatter stream and flip the polarity, the great-great grandson of iCoupler will be in that pointy tool to keep you from getting vaporized."



Julie Barbeau,Sr. Product Development Engineer, answers the call, are you a Trekkie?

"Are  you kidding me? I love Star Trek! Note the present tense.  I got the original series on DVD for Mother’s day this year.  I’ve introduced my children to Star Trek and they love it too.


Gene Roddenberry was a visionary.  In the 1960’s he foresaw hand held communication devices and today we have cell phones.  Handheld scanning equipment for medical diagnosis is now a reality.  Star Trek has allowed engineers to dream of what might be and then go and invent it.  The tricorder hasn’t been invented yet and we can’t transport people or things by reducing them to molecule and reassembling them in a new location.  But thanks to Star Trek, we think about these and other seemingly impossible things.


I wish I had more time to write about this.  For now, it will have to suffice to say that it was a major influence on me and my little brother who also became an engineer."


David Kress, Director of Applications talks about future opportunities for ADI products on the Enterprise. 

"By Stardate 2450, Analog was producing a variety of products that were useful on the voyages of the Enterprise -- some of these were visible, some not.



Communications -- One might wonder how the Enterprise could communicate so rapidly with Starfleet over light-years of distance. The physics of quantum entanglement was well-established that enabled particle pairs to communicate their state instantaneously over great distances. The ADI Isolator group had extended isolation technology to include the quantum entangle-o-meter with up to 8 bi-directional channels able to encode and decode spin direction changes at over 1 GHz -- with isolation distances reaching beyond 100 light-years. Relay stations could extend that range indefinitely.


Food -- Although many have postulated that human bodies might be modified so as to obtain sufficient nourishment with just a couple daily pills, the need for energy and calories is difficult to deny. The Analog technologies that were used to grow the perfect tomato in 2016 were greatly extended to grow organic items with minimal resources and no net waste. Since the Enterprise, including its occupants, was a closed system, all waste, from exhaled CO2 to dead skin, was captured and recycled. The advanced ADI sensors could detect trace elements and re-use them where needed to produce replenished foodstuffs. Probably not a gourmet meal, but it kept everyone more than healthy.


The Enterprise -- Analog Devices was one of the key contributors to the development of the warp drive system used in the Enterprise. This grew out of Analog's participation in the LIGO gravitational wave observatory. LIGO continued to develop more and more sensitive equipment, with our help. One of the key premises of sensors is that any sensor can also be an actuator (think photodiode and LED). So, as the LIGO and its successors advanced, the technology, which could sense gravity waves, was eventually able to create them. This was combined with the concept of the Alcubierre Warp Drive (look it up), which relies on the manipulation of gravity. These theoretical concepts were developed in the 21st century but had to wait for ADI to begin making the sensor/actuator chips from dark matter to realize the necessary energy levels. The primary work was done at the Analog Space Garage, the latest extension of our ventures that take you Ahead of What's Possible."


Are you a Trekkie? I already have my ticket for Friday. How about you? Share your ideas about how ADI technology can improve the Star Trek universe in the comments and be sure to check back tomorrow for Ed Grasso's EngineerZone Spotlight blog: Where No Semiconductor Has Gone Before.


Click to Tweet: “Forget seat belts, let’s put in a warp drive.” ADI engineers go under the hood of the USS Enterprise.


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As the leader of the team that developed the AD9361 product, I'm often asked where the idea came from.  Was it a "light bulb moment"? Divine inspiration? Uh, no. It was the result of a series of failures.


The AD9361 software-defined radio (SDR) is now one of ADI's most successful products. It is in hundreds of applications. Chances are you've used it and don't even know it. But how did we get here?


I was leading a fledgling RF transceiver development group at ADI. We had a family of WiMAX chips. (Remember WiMAX?  Me neither.) When the WiMAX market didn't happen, we had to figure out what to do next. One thing I knew I'd never do again was to chase a market that may not develop.


This was when the industry was starting to migrate to the 65nm technology node. Along with the remarkable capabilities of this new technology, came what seemed at the time, an incredibly high development cost. (This is amusing in retrospect given where costs are now!) With these soaring costs, my management wasn't going to be very patient with more failure.

RV Blog Price of Bread.jpgAnyway, the aha! moment came when I realized the implications of the really good switches that we could make in 65nm CMOS! (I'm picturing readers switching to some very important cat videos now - stay with me!) 


By good switches, I mean switches that have low series resistance when closed and small parasitic capacitance when opened. It turns out that those good switches play a huge role in making SDR possible. Here's a short list of things these switches enabled:


  • A "universal" local oscillator generator (LO) up to 6GHz. The core of the LO generator is a single-core LC VCO that tunes from 6GHz to 12GHz and is enabled by digitally-switched capacitors with a high Con/Coff ratio and pretty good quality factor.
  • Inductor-less RF signal paths. Traditionally, RF signal paths have needed resonant circuits to tune out capacitance in order to keep power dissipation low. With the very low parasitic capacitance of deep-sub-micro CMOS, we were able to eliminate the inductors.  This is important because nobody ever told inductors about Moore's Law so they're not only expensive but they get more expensive with Moore's Law because inductors don't scale but the cost per area does. And, this octave VCO is followed by cascaded divide-by-twos (made with switches, of course) from which we can generate any frequency up to 6GHz.
  • Widely reconfigurable continuous-time sigma-delta (CTSD) analog-to-digital converters (ADCs). Aside from the bandwidth and the power reconfigurability, these are remarkable ADCs because they have inherent anti-aliasing which is good because ...
  • ... after inductors, active analog filters probably scale most poorly with Moore's Law. With ADCs that don't need anti-aliasing filters we can use relatively low order filters and, because of those switches, they have 200:1 bandwidth tuning ratio.


Of course, it goes beyond just the switches. Lots of other things are enabling, including the direct conversion radio architecture with heavy use of "digitally-assisted-analog". Direct conversion is enabling because, compared to other radio architectures, it consumes the least power, eliminates impossible-to-integrate components such as IF filters and relaxes RF filters since there are no out-of-band images.  Direct conversion is used in virtually every consumer wireless application and ADI is bringing it to the rest of the world. 


The architecture also scales. For example, the same architecture as the AD9361 is used in the AD9371 but at twice the bandwidth and between 10 and 30dB better performance in most metrics that matter.


That is just a taste of the benefits and challenges of direct conversion. Look for more on this topic and other
under-the-hood topics in future blog posts. Now, you may watch cat videos.




Click to Tweet: Was ADI’s successful AD9361 software-defined radio born of divine inspiration? ADI fellow Tony Montalvo: “Uh, no. ” @Adi_News #EngineerZone

Quite often I get questions from customers on how high they have to drive their signal generators in order to get close to full scale. This RAQ answers some of them.

Tony Montalvo.jpgA new Radio Architecture and Design blog series, will makes it's debut on the EngineerZone Spotlight next month. This new blog will be authored by a team of Wide Band RF Transceiver experts.


ADI Fellow, Tony Montalvo will kick off the new series by sharing his technical and applications knowledge about Radio Architectures and Design and giving customers a look "under the hood". I had the pleasure of interviewing Tony to find out more about this new blog series, RF Transceivers and how he transitioned from an Ultimate Frisbee enthusiast to a highly recognized innovator at Analog Devices.


LA: I understand you are an ADI Fellow. That’s quite impressive. What does being a fellow entail?

TM: Out of 9000 employees there are about 30 Fellows so it’s a huge honor to be named a Fellow.  It’s humbling to see my name on the same list as some of the other Fellows who have created this industry and, in some cases, literally written the book.  The core criteria are innovation and impact.  That is, innovation has to be impactful and the easiest way to measure impact is revenue.


LA: Tell us a bit about this new blog series?

TM: Our products bring some very complex technology to applications that have traditionally been served by discrete components.  I thought it may be interesting to our customers to learn a little about our philosophy of radio, how we got here and what’s under the hood.


LA: What inspired you to become an engineer? 

TM: This isn’t one of those I-took-the-TV-apart-when-I-was-six stories.  I wandered until I found something that grabbed me.  As a kid I was consumed by skateboarding and punk rock.  I studied physics in college (Loyola University, New Orleans) so I must have had some technical tendencies.  Right after college I went to Columbia University in NY to get a masters because I couldn’t figure out what else to do.  I was a somewhat uninspired student of solid state physics and quite an inspired player of Ultimate Frisbee. Finally, I took a circuits class that changed everything.  The professor, Yannis Tsividis, was describing a circuit and wiggling his fingers to show how voltages varied in time.  For example, one finger would wiggle at the input of an inverting amplifier and another finger would wiggle more and out-of-phase at the output.  Suddenly, everything fell into place and it was finger wiggling that did it.


LA: Tell us about your years after graduate school and what brought you to ADI.

TM: After I finished my MSEE, I went to the Bay Area and became a Flash memory designer at AMD.  This was the first generation of Flash memories so it was fertile ground for a budding analog circuit designer.  We had to figure out things like how to generate the programming and erasing voltages in a way that would maximize the lifetime of the memory cell.  It was great work but I realized that it would become repetitive once those fundamental problems were solved.  After four years, I left to get a PhD at North Carolina State University.  My dissertation was about an artificial neural network chip that could learn based on examples and the “synapse” weights were stored on a floating gate which is the same idea as a Flash memory cell.  It was cool. It worked but turned out to be a solution looking for a problem.  Now, some 20 years later, neural networks are back in vogue and are at the core of many of the speech recognition systems like Siri.


After I got my PhD, I joined Ericsson in RTP, NC as an RF IC designer.  I knew literally nothing about RF at the time.  They were growing fast and luckily had a very low bar! Ericsson was an amazing learning experience for me.  I was surrounded by radio experts and soaked up a ton of knowledge. My claim to fame was architecting a receiver IF chip that eliminated a bulky 2nd-IF filter.  Some of the most experienced RF people in the world told me that it was impossible, that it “would never work”.  It did work and millions shipped into Ericsson handsets.  I’ve learned that unless someone claims that a product “will never work”, I’m probably not pushing hard enough.


Although I learned a lot at Ericsson, it became clear that as an IC designer I’d be in a better position at a semiconductor company.  I left Ericsson after 5 years and joined ADI in 2000.


LA: I recently learned that your office is on the North Carolina State University’s campus. How did that come to be?

TM: I started ADI’s site in Raleigh. Since I’m an NCSU grad and since I was an adjunct Professor at NCSU, I chose to locate the site on campus. Remember that this was in 2000 when things were booming.  Very soon after we signed the lease the boom ended and it was just me.  That wasn’t so comfortable but luckily the company was patient and we VERY gradually grew.


Being an adjunct professor, I taught an RF IC design course every other semester for many years.  This was a great experience for me for a few reasons.  First, you have to go much deeper in understanding something in order to teach it.  Second, my communication skills improved tremendously which comes in handy when interacting with customers.  Finally, I hired some of the best students!


LA: What interests you about the RF sector, specifically transceivers?

TM: Impact, first.  Everyone can relate to wireless communications these days so if we can do something that makes people’s experiences better it’s easy to see.  Second, the industry is changing quickly.  For example, not too long ago voice was the killer app for cell phones and coverage was spotty at best.  Now, just a few years later you have nearly instantaneous access to all of the knowledge from all time in your pocket.  And we’re far from done.  If anything, the change is accelerating and that what makes this so much fun.


LA: As an engineer you have experienced many successes and failed attempts. Please share one example with our audience.

TM: I’ve generally been able to make products work but that doesn’t guarantee success.  There have been several products that were technical successes and commercial failures.  I’ve learned that the most important thing is identifying something valuable to make.  Once you identify a valuable problem good engineers can find clever solutions.  I’ll talk much more about that in the blog.


LA: Do you have any advice for tackling an intimidating project?

TM: You can’t finish until you start.  And, if it’s not intimidating at the start you’re not trying hard enough.


LA: What are you reading right now?

TM: I just finished Oliver Sacks’ autobiography “On the Move”.  He’s an incredibly accomplished neurologist who had a passion for bringing these complex topics to the masses.  For example, the Robin Williams movie “Awakenings” was based on his work. What really resonated with me was his early years.  He was a wanderer.  He didn’t have a plan.  He just did what interested him and things worked out well for him. That describes my path pretty well too.


Thank you, Tony for taking some time to share your experience with our audience. We will be sure to stay tuned to the EngineerZone Spotlight blog for the first installment of this mystery RF Transceiver based blog.




CLICK to TWEET: A Fellow's Path: An interview with Tony Montalvo #EngineerZone @ADI_News

There are a lot of tables. There are a lot of specifications.... do I understand them all, do I understand their impact, which ones interplay? I want to be sure about picking this converter within my solution. It can be daunting

...and you are only on page 4 of the datasheet.


Even though, I personally enjoy reading, I prefer pictures. I prefer to see it. To play with it, to understand through seeing....seeing is believing.


Fast, with no hassle.

This is the essence of Virtual Eval. Seeing, playing and understanding. Building confidence that this converter is the right one, or other times, perhaps not fitting what I need. Up to now seeing meant, ordering the evaluation board and hooking it up on the bench - Virtual Eval is much faster and more efficient in selecting the right component for your task.


Virtual Eval is an interactive model of your converter that's one simple click away.

Click and see for yourself.


Precision Sigma Delta ADCs

Our precision sigma delta ADCs build in lots of flexibility around our first class ADC core performance. Our customers like the ability to tweak and optimize via these programming options. With functionality comes a fair level of complexity and many, many use cases. Virtual Eval cuts through the complexity and offers you the ability to see if the ADC can operate to fit your needs. It makes understanding easier and faster.


Here's a bit of a show reel of how it works:


Launching with coverage of the AD7190 family of 24-bit Precision Sigma Delta ADCs; AD7190, AD7192, AD7193, AD7194, AD7195 with fully integrated front end multiplexer, PGA and a host of digital filtering functions, let's peak at AD7193 through the browser enabled playground of Virtual Eval.



iStock_000015939174XXXLarge_jpg_with_text.jpgAD7193 has a multiplexer. Multiplexers and Sigma Deltas can muddy the water. Are you sure you've understood how fast I can multiplex, how I can reject a given frequency? AD7193 excels in gaining up signals and making a DC measurement very accurately with low noise and high resolution. Part of this is accuracy is in tuning the filter to reject known interferers.

A classical case is rejection of 50Hz, 60Hz, or if your design is global: rejecting 50&60Hz.

Scenario: 100mV input range on 4-channels, Gain of 8 PGA, need to reject 50 and 60Hz in tandem. How does AD7193 do this, which choices do I have? Virtual eval will show you for AD7193


Select blocks for configuration by clicking on the block diagram and then run the simulation. The tool will allow you to browse the change in noise between data rates or gains. It will tell you if your analog input voltage span is too large for the gain selected and even if your serial clock is too slow. All the little things.


Timing diagrams showing the instructions to be written to the ADC and the expected times to receive the output from the ADC depending on the filtering rates and the number of channels selected. It's like putting an oscilloscope on the digital interface and looking at the format and timing of the ADC output, where the RDY signal falls to indicate a new conversion is ready, the period between conversion ready signals.....all graphically shown


Frequency Domain plots of the rejection offered by the digital filter at specific rates like 50/60Hz are also available. You can see what the specification would be for conditions outside of those shown in datasheet tables. For instance, you know your temperature range is going to mean the clock is going to have a tolerance of +/-2Hz instead of +/-1Hz as the datasheets have used as a standard. AD7193 Virtual Eval will calculate that for you and show the expected rejection.


Output Session settings to file when you're finished. This way you can keep a record of the configuration you need for your project and help you fill this in for your design requirements document.

Here's an example of the file that I export at the end of my settings- I've also attached it to this post.

It's a text file and you can open it in Word, Excel or Notepad, whichever you'd like.



Fast forward to your internal design reviews, a question comes up about a certain voltage rail, input voltage span - is that ok for the converter, can the converter handle it do we need to change settings?.....pop open Virtual Eval to check there and then, even share on the projector in your meeting -a quick check....peace of mind.


That's it for now. Stay tuned for future products releasing on the Virtual Eval platform. AD7124, AD7175 are in the pipeline. Virtual Eval: It's a good one, we like using it at ADI too.


twitter.pngClick to Tweet! "Seeing is believing with Virtual Eval #EngineerZone @ADI_News"

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