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(Image courtesy of Texas Instruments).

Texas Instruments Says Smaller Data Converters Will Fit Right In

Texas Instruments, the largest supplier of analog semiconductors, said on Monday that it had released a new range of data converters that are each the smallest in their class. The products are targeted at customers trying to fit more electronic functions into factory equipment, consumer electronics, cars and network infrastructure, according to the Dallas, Texas-based company.

Texas Instruments is trying to tap into the global market for data converters, which perform the fundamental task of converting sound, touch and other physical inputs into electronic signals and translating digital signals into analog outputs. The data converter business has been looking up as more and more sensors are slapped onto everything from cars to household devices. The parts are also vital components in telecom infrastructure and data center networking.

“There is a need for more data to support automation happening in the automotive and industrial spaces,” said Tsedeniya Abraham, product line manager for precision data converter products at Texas Instruments. “Many systems are having to add additional sensors at every node but in much smaller form factors than ever before. To support them all, the circuitry around the sensors also has to significantly shrink in size.”

Texas Instruments said that its latest eight-channel digital-to-analog converters (DACs) are more than 30 percent smaller than any other component in their class. The components have also not had to compromise on reliability, accuracy and channel density in harsh environments, according to Abraham. The 14-bit DAC70508 and 16-bit DAC80508—are available in 2.4mm-by-2.4mm or 3-mm-by-3-mm packages.

The company also announced new 24-bit analog-to-digital converters (ADCs). The components, which are available in 3mm-by-3mm or 5mm-by-4.4mm packages, combine the functions of several different devices, enhancing noise rejection and enabling higher accuracy. The ADS122C04 and ADS122U04, have two-wire interfaces that reduce the overall cost of an isolated system, Texas Instruments said. They are also available as pin-to-pin-compatible 16-bit devices.

Texas Instruments is also focused on long-term reliability since many of these electronic devices are subjected to sudden temperature changes, electrical noise and other harsh conditions, Abraham said. The data converters can all operate from -40°C to +125°C and protect against data corruption that could, for instance, throw off the position of an assembly line robot, causing it to smash into the side of a car on a production line.

The announcements underline the company’s ongoing investment in the data converter market, which jumped 15 percent last year to $3.8 billion, according to analog market researcher Databeans. The company’s DACs are around 50 percent smaller than they were nearly a decade ago with the same precision and number of channels, Abraham said. She added that the company’s latest ADCs are 15 percent smaller than they were in 2009.

In terms of data converter sales, Texas Instruments has long played second fiddle to Analog Devices, which holds 55.4 percent market share. Analog Devices tightened its grip on the segment with its 2016 acquisitions of Linear Technology for $14.8 billion. Last year, Texas Instruments had 25.4 percent market share in data converters. Maxim Integrated, the third largest supplier, held 5.5 percent, said Databeans research director Susie Inouye.

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