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Analog IC Designer's Handbook

Top-Down method at work in analog IC design


Analog IC design is one of the particular design activities where designers get feedback on their choices only months after they finish their design and where the cost of even the smallest design change is huge.

This has historically brought the need for new tools such as SPICE, the ancestor of almost all the electric simulators, so as to give feedback on the design choices before actually getting the prototypes. This should also have deeply impacted the design methods, and it has, but the availability of simulators has finally allowed the old “try and fix” method not only to survive but also to stay very popular.

If tools such as electric simulators have gained popularity in most electronic design fields, even out of the IC design world, methods such as the TOP-DOWN approach are not as popular as they should be, especially in the analog design community, even in the analog IC design microcosm. This is probably because this method is felt as difficult to use practically even though most designers agree that it is the right approach.

The goal of this book is to show that the TOP-DOWN approach for analog design is not only valid but that it is one of the most powerful available methods to create good analog design without sacrificing the time to market. This method creates faster and better designs but requires a good understanding of the method itself, of course, but also of the underlying techniques and of the basic design elements.

After a general introduction of the TOP-DOWN method goals and principles in the first part, the second part presents and details analog IC design elements from components to basic building blocks with a strong emphasis on practical aspects. Various additional design techniques are then detailed in the third part. The reader is then ready for the main course, a series of design examples based on the TOP-DOWN method that are grouped in the fourth part. These examples are processed the way they are in real life, from specification to implementation, from general considerations down to implementation details. Analysis of existing circuits is useful for learning but real life design is synthesis, not analysis.

Finally, the fifth part introduces or reminds useful basic concepts and presents the notation in use through the book.

The methods and techniques described in this book have been used by the author through 25 years of analog and mixed signal ICs design experience in various application fields including RF and sensor signal conditioning for various markets such as industrial, automotive and aerospace. The author feels that the method he presents in this book can help many analog electronic designers in their day to day work and hopes it will bring both a deeper understanding of design and a broader view over design activities.