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Updated: September 22nd, 2008 10:36 AM CDT

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

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via PRNewswire

SANTA CLARA, Calif. , Sept. 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- National Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE: NSM) today introduced the industry's first sensor signal path design tool that enables engineers to quickly move from concept to simulation 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 and cost by configuring a complete sensor signal path solution with just a few keystrokes. Prior to this design tool, an engineer would have to consume valuable development time matching sensor characteristics and performance with an operational amplifier's (op amp's) DC performance and an analog-to-digital converter's (ADC) resolution and accuracy. Additional time would then be required for circuit evaluation and prototyping.

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

For example, the WEBENCH Sensor Designer tool can combine the PowerWise LMP7731 precision amplifier with the new ADC161S626 16-bit, 250 kilo-samples per second (KSPS), differential input ADC. The LMP7731 features low input voltage noise of 2.9 nV/sqrt Hz with a 1/f noise corner of only 3 Hz, while the ADC161S626 provides signal accuracy of +/- 0.003 percent over the -40 degrees C to 85 degrees C temperature range. Each signal path solution amplifies, conditions and digitizes the sensor output to directly link to a microcontroller or digital signal processor (DSP). The tool also allows users to order a customized evaluation kit for prototyping their simulated WEBENCH solution 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 work space. The WEBENCH Sensor Designer tool then generates a design schematic, bill of materials (BOM) and performance summary, including a detailed error analysis, and presents this information on-screen in a matter of seconds. The tool also allows engineers to quickly make performance-to-price trade-offs and easily optimize their analog design for their particular sensor by choosing a different op amp or ADC, or by modifying system values.

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