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Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC)

Our Take

Analog-to-digital converters take a voltage range and divide that range into chunks. It assigns each chunk a particular number on the range (depending on the resolution). When the ADC measures a voltage, it assigns a number to that voltage, so you have a digital record of that analog signal.

Book Definition

Analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) translate analog signals to digital numbers.

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In electronics, an analog-to-digital converter (ADC, A/D, or A-to-D) is a system that converts an analog signal, such as a sound picked up by a microphone or light entering a digital camera, into a 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 representing the magnitude of the voltage or current. Typically the digital output is a two's complement binary number that is proportional to the input, but there are other possibilities.

There are several ADC architectures. Due to the complexity and the need for precisely matched components, all but the most specialized ADCs are implemented as integrated circuits (ICs).

A digital-to-analog converter (DAC) performs the reverse function; it converts a digital signal into an analog signal.

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