ACE Awards Design Team of the Year: Maxim Integrated's MAX2173

-April 24, 2013

The Tao of Design should state officially somewhere that the smaller and easier-to-use an IC, the bigger and more complex the thought and energy are that went into its design. Such was the case with the MAX2173 direct-conversion digital audio broadcast (DAB) tuner, and the energy, skill, and design expertise of the 21-member design team that brought it to life.

Spread out between Hillsboro, OR; San Jose, CA; and Bristol, England, the MAX2173 design team overcame several tough challenges. Not only were they developing a cutting-edge RF product with demanding sensitivity and blocking performance requirements, but they also needed to do so while meeting demanding automotive-grade ESD and temperature standards and managing power consumption and die size—all while collaborating across multiple regions.


Shown are the Hillsboro, OR, design team, one of three geographically separated design groups that together formed a 21-member team—scattered from Silicon Valley, to Hillsboro, to Bristol, England—that won Design Team of the Year for realizing the MAX2173 digital audio broadcast tuner.

To deal with the geographic issue, each of the three design teams developed blocks in the overall design, but for any product to work, each team had to ensure that its block fit into the design seamlessly, without any mistakes, which could add costly delays requiring redesign and time-consuming tape-out cycles. This demanded constant communication between team members.

However, communication didn’t end with the design team. The production test team needed to be aware of the production schedule. Inspired by this communication challenge, the team leader ensured excellent, open communication to keep everyone well informed of the specifics of each block and design schedule. The team pulled from their design know-how, available infrastructure, and proper forethought to align with the production test team efficiently. Along with strong design protocols, this communication among the team resulted in the production of high-quality product samples on the first pass.

The team delivered samples approximately one year after receiving the product definition. The product was ready for production approximately one year following the delivery of the first samples.

Of course, a relatively small die size had to be achieved in concert with the 6×6-mm TQFN package. As many designers are aware, suppliers of automotive electronics are under constant pressure to reduce size and power consumption. To overcome this challenge, the team creatively shrunk the baseband filter, a key component in the design, and combined that with excellent layout planning.

The resulting device is the first RF-to-bits DAB tuner on the market. It simplifies design and reduces design time, allows the DSP to support additional features, and reduces the cost and count of external components. The integrated ADCs reduce footprint, lower power consumption, and reduce cost. Digital filtering eliminates the need for filtering in the DSP while providing a programmable FIR, thereby saving MIPS in DSP and allowing support for other features or services. An integrated DCXO can digitally trim out crystal error, saving the cost of a TCXO or more expensive crystal. On-chip LDOs save space and reduce cost.

ACE Awards winners:

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