National Semiconductor Introduces Industry's First Online Tool for Developing Sensor Signal Path Solutions

Monday, September 22, 2008 General News
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SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 22 NationalSemiconductor Corp. (NYSE: NSM) today introduced the industry's first sensorsignal path design tool that enables engineers to quickly move from concept tosimulation to prototyping of common sensor solutions used in medical,industrial and high-end consumer products.

The WEBENCH(R) Sensor Designer tool significantly reduces design time andcost by configuring a complete sensor signal path solution with just a fewkeystrokes. Prior to this design tool, an engineer would have to consumevaluable development time matching sensor characteristics and performance withan operational amplifier's (op amp's) DC performance and an analog-to-digitalconverter's (ADC) resolution and accuracy. Additional time would then berequired for circuit evaluation and prototyping.

The WEBENCH Sensor Designer tool streamlines the sensor interface and dataconversion design, allowing the engineer to focus on the other parts of theoverall system. With a few keystrokes, National's WEBENCH Sensor Designer toolmatches the industry's leading bridge pressure sensors, photo detector sensorsand thermocouple sensors with National's PowerWise(R) energy-efficient op ampsand pin- and function-compatible 8-, 10-, 12-, 14- and 16-bit ADCs.

For example, the WEBENCH Sensor Designer tool can combine the PowerWiseLMP7731 precision amplifier with the new ADC161S626 16-bit, 250 kilo-samplesper second (KSPS), differential input ADC. The LMP7731 features low inputvoltage noise of 2.9 nV/sqrt Hz with a 1/f noise corner of only 3 Hz, whilethe ADC161S626 provides signal accuracy of +/- 0.003 percent over the -40degrees C to 85 degrees C temperature range. Each signal path solutionamplifies, conditions and digitizes the sensor output to directly link to amicrocontroller or digital signal processor (DSP). The tool also allows usersto order a customized evaluation kit for prototyping their simulated WEBENCHsolution in the lab.

How WEBENCH Sensor Designer Works

After selecting the appropriate sensor type, engineers simply click the"create a design" button. If a particular sensor is not pre-loaded in the tool,users have the ability to create a custom sensor and save it to their workspace. The WEBENCH Sensor Designer tool then generates a design schematic,bill of materials (BOM) and performance summary, including a detailed erroranalysis, and presents this information on-screen in a matter of seconds. Thetool also allows engineers to quickly make performance-to-price trade-offs andeasily optimize their analog design for their particular sensor by choosing adifferent op amp or ADC, or by modifying system values.

Using the 'Build It!' option, designers can generate solutions they canuse for evaluation and prototyping. Customized prototype kits can be shippedwithin 24 hours to accelerate test and validation. These kits interfacedirectly to any system with a digital input. For engineers that would like tointerface directly to a PC, a separate communications evaluation board(supplied with either an SPI or I2C to USB interface) and software isavailable. The software analyzes the sensor signal path to aid engineers withfine-tuning the design's overall performance. To begin a design with theWEBENCH Sensor Designer tool, go to

Sensor manufacturers and distributors interested in being featured in theWEBENCH Sensor Designer tool should contact National directly at

The WEBENCH Sensor Designer tool is an extension of National's WEBENCHtools for light-emitting diodes (LEDs), power, signal path design, audio,amplifiers and active filters, and National's Analog University(R) onlinelearning facility. To try any of National's WEBENCH design tools, go to

About National's WEBENCH Design Environment

National's WEBENCH environ

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