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Analog: back to the future, Part 3

-December 02, 2012

Part 1 of this 3-part series covered op amp history from National Semiconductor.

Part 2 of this 3-part series covered Philbrick Nexus, Burr-Brown, Analog Devices and Linear Technology history and contributions in op amp history up to the 21st century offerings from these companies.

Maxim’s contribution to Analog development

Tunç Doluca, President and CEO, Maxim Integrated Products, Inc., gave a background of his company’s beginnings.

Since its inception in 1983, Maxim Integrated Products has produced great analog building blocks. While many competitors diversified into other areas, we remained focused on analog.

I joined Maxim in 1984 as a member of the technical staff, designing high-speed data converters and, eventually, power management ICs. My goal back then was akin to engineers’ objectives today: to create great products ensuring all circuitry worked with precision, were accurate and stable over time. My colleagues and I strived to design clever, standalone products.

Although I have assumed different roles at Maxim over the years and have not designed a circuit since 1996, one of my favorite places is to be in the lab, visiting designers and discussing their work. And, truth be told, I rather enjoy reading weekly yield reports, which reveal that my products, designed over 20 years ago, continue to sell in the marketplace.

Over time, we built a rich analog portfolio, which grows to this day. However, customers began asking for system-level solutions in addition to great standalone analog components. Although our counterparts on the digital side had been integrating system blocks for years, this represented the beginning of integration in analog. Extremely difficult to do, analog integration presented unique challenges and opportunities for designers and their companies.

Like never before, we had to drive organizational and operational changes and build a culture of collaboration among product lines, as well as gain and apply system knowledge. We needed to optimize EDA tools, process technology and manufacturing, which all required adaptation, sometimes monumental shifts, in order to create rich, complex, integrated analog products.

Of course, we continue to invest in analog building block products. After all, our customers still demand clever, discrete analog components. However, there is surging demand for integrated analog products as customers tell us they are pressed for time and want solutions that will help them get to market quickly. Integration…this is where the market is headed.

What began as a consumer play for smaller, thinner, more energy-efficient smart phones and tablets is now becoming a driving force in other applications such as smart meters, automobiles and communications infrastructure equipment.

So, what does the future hold? Analog’s classic attributes of enabling robust sound, clear graphics, energy efficiency and remarkable signal integrity will underscore its prominence in every application imaginable. Adding sensors to analog components will enable connected, intelligent devices. The way I see it, technology will then “fade into the background” as data securely passes between devices.

This is all made possible by analog components; complicated-yet-valuable integrated analog ICs, and the addition of sensors. Capitalizing on analog technology, these advancements will ultimately enhance our lives and make us more productive as a society.

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