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Title : Basic DAC Architectures I: String DACs and Thermometer (Fully Decoded) DACs
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Date : 18-Mar-2008
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Rather than simply treating DACs as black boxes having a digital input and an analog output, it is much more useful to understand the fundamental DAC architectures in use today. This can also aid in the selection process which can be somewhat daunting considering the sheer number of DACs currently on the market.

This tutorial examines the most fundamental DAC architectures, the "string" DAC and the "thermometer" DAC. String DACs had their origin with Lord Kelvin, who invented the Kelvin divider in the mid-1800s. String DACs are popular today, especially in applications such as digital potentiometers where resolutions of 6 to 8 bits are typical. Because of their relative freedom from code-dependent switching glitches, thermometer DACs are popular building blocks in low distortion segmented DACs as well as in pipelined ADCs.
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