Tips and Tricks: Help for ASIC design

When considering a new application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design, consider the role analog functions will play in its deployment. To minimize risk, consider these six tips for ASIC design.


Consider total system cost, before and after ASIC integration. Courtesy: JVD Inc.When considering a new application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design, consider the role analog will play in its deployment. To minimize risk, choose your ASIC development partner carefully. Many times, basic mixed-signal ASIC design skills will be insufficient. Always seek out an analog ASIC partner with the right analog design skills and experience to match the application. Six key points follow.

1. It is easy to integrate complex analog functions into an ASIC. Don’t limit yourself to a mixed-signal ASIC supplier that uses analog blocks from a library. Libraries limit the creativity and functionality that you can integrate. Use a company that has extremely well-experienced analog engineers with a history of invention (patents).

2. Mixed-signal does not mean the same thing as analog. Mixed-signal implies lots of digital and a little analog. Review the offerings of many so-called mixed-signal companies: Analog is more-or-less an afterthought for them. Industrial controls, sensor interfaces, and the like are primarily analog functions. Use analog capability to solve analog problems.

Using standard mixed-signal cells may not produce desired results for analog ASIC design. Courtesy: JVD Inc.3. You don’t need to be making an iPhone to afford an analog ASIC. After amortizing the tooling and nonrecurring engineering (NRE) costs over the lifetime expected volume, you may be surprised by the real savings you can achieve. Analog integration is easy for experienced companies.

4. Using existing IP from analog cell libraries usually means you must compromise the performance of your product. Refer to rule #1. Libraries contain basic blocks that solve basic problems. If you need an instrumentation amplifier with a precise gain of 97.3 in your ASIC system, forget it if your supplier is using cell libraries. Custom analog design will assure the best end-product solution.

Custom analog content assures 100% specification coverage by the first tape-out in analog ASIC design. Courtesy: JVD Inc.5. If you spend the money for an ASIC, demand product differentiation. Cell libraries are a great way to ensure your product is no better than that of your competition (who probably used the same cell library as supplier). How can you be better?

6. Know when to say “no.” There is an economic balance when defining analog ASICs: a balance between cost and adding too much low-value functionality to the design. A good analog ASIC company will guide you through this carefully. Bigger is not always better.

- Bob Frostholm is director of sales and marketing, JVD Inc., San Jose, Calif.; Edited by Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media, Control Engineering, 

Have advice to share? Submit your tips and tricks here:


No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
2015 Mid-Year Report: Manufacturing's newest tool: In a digital age, digits will play a key role in the plant of the future; Ethernet certification; Mitigate harmonics; World class maintenance
2015 Lubrication Guide: Green and gold in lubrication: Environmentally friendly fluids and sealing systems offer a new perspective
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Cyber security attack: The threat is real; Hacking O&G control systems: Understanding the cyber risk; The active cyber defense cycle
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths
New industrial buildings: Greener, cleaner, leaner; New building designs for industry; Take a new look at absorption cooling; Offshored jobs start to come back

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.