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The pipelined analog-to-digital converter (ADC) has become the most popular ADC architecture for sampling rates from a few megasamples per second ( Msps ) up to 100Msps+. Resolutions range from eight bits at the faster sample rates up to 16 bits at the lower rates. These resolutions and sampling rates cover a wide range of applications, including CCD imaging, ultrasonic medical imaging, digital receivers, base stations, digital video (for example, HDTV ), xDSL, cable modems, and fast Ethernet . Applications with lower sampling rates are still the domain of the successive approximation register (SAR) and integrating architectures, and more recently, oversampling/sigma-delta ADCs. The highest sampling rates (a few hundred Msps or higher) are still obtained using flash ADCs . Nonetheless, pipelined ADCs of various forms have improved greatly in speed, resolution, dynamic performance, and low power in recent years.
An analog-to-digital converter (abbreviated ADC , A/D or A to D ) is a device that converts a continuous physical quantity (usually voltage) to a digital number that represents the quantity's amplitude. The conversion involves quantization of the input, so it necessarily introduces a small amount of error. The inverse operation is performed by a digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Instead of doing a single conversion, an ADC often performs the conversions (" samples " the input) periodically. The result is a sequence of digital values that have converted a continuous-time and continuous-amplitude analog signal to a discrete-time and discrete-amplitude digital signal . An ADC may also provide an isolated measurement such as an electronic device that converts an input analog voltage or current to a digital number proportional to the magnitude of the voltage or current.