Analog and Digital IC design techniques

Discussion in 'Analog & Mixed-Signal Design' started by jaydnul, Aug 5, 2016.

  1. jaydnul

    Thread Starter Member

    Apr 2, 2015
    I want to be a mixed signal IC design engineer. My only worry is how future proof this field is. I know it's impossible to predict the future, but with some of the likely replacements (or supplements) of ICs (photonic integrated circuits being one), how likely is it that we will still use the same circuit design techniques even with these new technologies?
  2. crutschow


    Mar 14, 2008
    Analog design will never go away since you always need some glue circuits to match the analog signal to the digital converter.
    Given the complexity of analog design, being a mixed signal engineer is probably one of the toughest design engineering disciplines there is.
    Are you up to that?
  3. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    The way I say that is, "There will always be a necessity to measure the external world, then it goes to the processors."
    Sure, a lot of machine processes can easily be considered as on or off, but light, sound, frequency, Ph, temperature...they are all analog, and they are essential measurements if you're going to make a machine respond to anything in the natural world. Otherwise, you just have a bunch of machines talking to themselves, ignorant of their environment.
  4. Robin Mitchell

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 25, 2009
    Let's be honest here, photonic integrated circuits is not going to happen for a very long time. Just like quantum computers they are making process but they are the equivalent of the first transistors. It will be a long time before these technologies can come close to the abilities of silicon!

    Trust me, you have nothing to worry about!
  5. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    Be careful with your predictions. The first practical transistor was fabricated 3 years before I was born, and I'm typing on a home computer. Some of these new kids might live long enough to see photonic ICs and quantum computers.
  6. OBW0549

    Distinguished Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    No matter what you focus on learning today, the chances of that knowledge remaining sufficient for the remainder of your career are practically nil. While the fundamentals will endure, nearly everything else can be counted on to change-- some of it, radically.

    Plan for the necessity of continually learning new tricks.
    johndeaton and Robin Mitchell like this.
  7. Robin Mitchell

    Distinguished Member

    Oct 25, 2009
    True but the transistor is still here and going very strong. Logically it is unlikely that the photonics will be in modern electronics for several decades. Transistors took off so well because their counterpart (valves) were so bad (unreliable for long amounts of time in digital systems). Unless you could make a photonic IC that has better specs than modern silicon devices then they will remain in the research category. It's like people raving about quantum computers, most don't know what they really do and if they did they would understand that they are pretty useless for modern applications such as word and games.

    Eventually, something WILL replace transistors but that something is a hella long way away! Considering the experience the industry has with silicon, the refinement of chemicals, well-understood physics, and smaller feature sizes transistors may always be used even hundreds of years from now.
  8. hp1729

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2015
    I say go for it. What are your alternatives? Make a plan to go from where you are to where you want to be and get started.
    Is there a future in it? If there is a future in design at all that is where it will be.
  9. ramancini8

    Active Member

    Jul 18, 2012
    Good news! I made the transition from tubes to transistors then to ICs. First, the transition never comes like a bolt of lighting; rather, the transition is always slow. The new technology goes into State-Of-Art applications that can afford to pay for its advantages, then it spreads slowly, so you get time to transition into the new technology. Older guys and those unwilling to learn are usually the people left behind. Transistors became available in the mid 1950s, the military was still accepting new miniature tube equipment in the mid 1960s, and TV really didn't accept transistors until the 1970s.

    Bad news! Why would you want an intensive job that requires you to be locked up in a room with a display for a companion? That gets old after a while, and the thought of 40 years of being imprisoned with a display frightens me! I was a discrete circuit designer who was lured away to design ICs. I bailed out of IC design ASAP by becoming a field applications engineer then a technical author and seminar presenter.

    Mixed signal design is a great place to get experience, but don't let your career stop there. You can build on that excellent background to make career advances. Never lose sight of this fact; the customer defines you next product, so to be on the cutting edge you need an excellent relationship with customers. At 77 I still get paid well to design circuits if I choose to do so, but I design solutions for customers and you get to do the dog work.
    Bernard, Sinus23 and absf like this.