Do analog design engineers have a future?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by jaydnul, Oct 6, 2015.

  1. jaydnul

    Thread Starter Member

    Apr 2, 2015
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    I realize that interfacing with the real world will always require analog circuitry, but is there any room left for innovation? Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places, but are there any innovative frontiers in analog design left to discover that a microprocessor and a couple lines of code couldn't do?

    What I mean is, the analog technology seems to be at a stand still, maybe slightly improving existing designs as time goes on. The digital technology seems to be where most innovation nowadays takes place (in hardware and software development). Is this accurate or am I not finding the right resources?

    Thanks
     
  2. Papabravo

    Expert

    Feb 24, 2006
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    I think you have it backwards. We have analog devices today that were unheard of 20 years ago. Meanwhile, we're still using processor designs from decades ago and new language development hasn't come up with anything new in a very long time.
     
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  3. jaydnul

    Thread Starter Member

    Apr 2, 2015
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    Could you give me some examples? I'm genuinely curious and looking for places to start.
     
  4. Papabravo

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  5. Tako

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    Oct 21, 2014
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    Right now, due to coming IoT (Internet of Things) it seems as everybody needs analog IC designers. Here in Europe, even if you are a beginner with 1-2 years of experience, you get a plenty of job offers to go to work in Germany, UK, Austria, Belgium or Netherlands. Hope in very near future, the market for remote work will be as in the USA (I heard it is nothing unusual to work remotely in America). Right now it's rather rare to work remotely in Europe and it is rather reserved for very experienced designers (~10+). Hope it will be as with programmers who can work remotely.

    Analog IC design should stand strong. The world is going wireless so RF design will be always needed. Chips are needed in cars that should be light and cheap in production. The same for health equipment. You will see more RFID cards in the future as things as PayPal are very convenient. At least in those areas, there will be demand for analog IC designers. In the worst case, there will be only ADC and DAC design, but this scenario should be rather not possible.

    What I recommend you is to write a letter with your questions about future of analog IC design (if by analog you mean IC design) to some professors and some professionals that have a lot of experience in it and share answers with us. ;)
     
  6. dannyf

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2015
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    True.

    However, some of the highest paid engineers are analog engineers. The issue is that for most engineers, those jobs are not available. So your conclusion is correct for most engineers, but not so for the most talented engineers.
     
  7. OBW0549

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    Mar 2, 2015
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    For an example of a precision op-amp with performance specs that would have been thought impossible just a few decades ago, try https://www.maximintegrated.com/en/products/analog/amplifiers/MAX44246.html.
    Likewise, this 32-bit A/D converter: http://www.ti.com/product/ads1262.

    As for "do analog design engineers have a future?" I think the answer is yes, but the number of jobs available will be far fewer than what we had 10-30 years ago.
     
  8. Sensacell

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    Jun 19, 2012
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    Power systems are all about analog, a huge area of opportunity.
     
  9. Papabravo

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    Feb 24, 2006
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    Sensors of all kinds are a vast application area ripe for exploitation. Especially remote sensing in hazardous and difficult to monitor applications.
     
  10. jaydnul

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    Apr 2, 2015
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    Is it unheard of to be a mixed signal design engineer? Or do you usually have to polarize to analog or digital?
     
  11. Papabravo

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    No it is not unheard of. Just like in football ( American version) it is rare to find a triple threat man who can design analog, digital, and firmware. Working with DSP it is almost essential to be conversant in all three areas.
     
  12. OBW0549

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    Mar 2, 2015
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    Absolutely not! The more disciplines in which you can develop competence, the better off you'll be.

    No, don't do that; restricting yourself to one or the other will just limit your employment opportunities.

    One absolute must, no matter what you want to end up doing: learn digital signal processing.
     
  13. jaydnul

    Thread Starter Member

    Apr 2, 2015
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    Cool, thanks for the replies.

    One more question since it was brought up; is firmware usually written by the EEs who designed the product rather than SEs? Is it usually written in assembly?
     
  14. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
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    Never trust an EE to design firmware. ;) Sure they can write it.
     
  15. OBW0549

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    Not usually. Sometimes, in a small company you'll find one engineer designing both the hardware and the firmware, but that's unusual.

    No, most often it's written in C.
     
  16. joeyd999

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 6, 2011
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    Funny. I've never trusted software engineers to do anything.
     
  17. nsaspook

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    I do, good software design is like artistry. You can write it to make it work perfectly but some people just have the knack for structured elegance in software. Five years down the road when something new needs to be added it fits like a glove into the existing framework design of a master software engineer. Look at the Unix system software design, Linux, Android and a host of other software systems (even Window at it's heart) still mirror it's history. Now take a look at at OS designed by hardware engineers like PRIMOS (written in FORTRAN IV of all things from the same period), dead as a doorknob.
     
  18. Papabravo

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    At my first job, the old hands used to say: "Keep the hamburger away from the hardware". They were referring to us software firmware types. It took a while to gain some credibility, but it was worth it.
     
  19. jaydnul

    Thread Starter Member

    Apr 2, 2015
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    Sounds good, thanks everyone!
     
  20. AnalogKid

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    Aug 1, 2013
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    "Specialization is for insects."
    - Robert Anson Heinlein

    ak
     
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