What are the critical specifications of a high speed DAC output? Do I care more about the AC specs or DC specs?
Generally there are two sets of specifications for a DAC output, DC and AC specifications.
Major DC specifications include: Differential Linearity (DNL); Integral Linearity (INL); Gain and Offset Errors.
Major AC specifications include: Spurious-Free Dynamic Range (SFDR); InterModulation Distortion (IMD); Noise Spectral Density (NSD); Adjacent Channel Leakage Ratio (ACLR).
Which set of the specifications is more critical depends on the application. In high speed applications, AC specifications are normally good indicators of the performance of a high speed DAC. The better the SFDR and IMD, the easier frequency planning and filtering. The better the NSD, the better the transmit SNR. DC specifications can also be crucial in some applications such as in the direct conversion architecture where sideband rejection and LO suppression are impacted by the DAC gain and offset errors.
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