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FA 12.

4: An Inherently Linear and Compact MOST-Only Current-Division Technique


Klaas Bult and Govert Geelen
Philips Research Laboratories,Eindhoven, The Netherlands devices described by equation 2. Therefore, remaining sec-
ondary effects influencing the current division are channel-
length shortening, drain-induced barrier lowering and mis-
A technique for dividing currents (or voltages) accurately and match. The first two are of interest only if the devices are
linearly is useful for analog signal processing such a s control- biased in the saturation regon and in that case can give rise
lable attenuation, A to D and D to A conversion. A common to some low-level distortion. Mismatch in geometry or oxide
technique is to use resistors or capacitors for the linear thickness has influence only on the accuracy of the division
accurate division of current (or voltage) while using MOS- and not on distortion. Mismatch in threshold voltage how-
transistors as switches or amplifying elements [ 1,2 I. In this ever, gives rise to distortion. Thus, the best results are
paper a technique is presented that uses the same MOS expected when the devices are biased in the linear region,
transistors for both division and switching functions, elimi- with a large effective gate-source voltage and a large gate
nating resistors or capacitors. Although an MOS-transistor area.
exhibits a non-linear relation between current and voltage
(even in the linear r e s o n ) it is shown here that the current The volume-control circuit used to prove the viability of the
division is inherently linear. current-division technique is based on a resistive ladder
configuration comparable to R-2R ladder attenuators. There
The basic principle ofthis current division technique is shown is a coarse part with steps of 12aB per section and a fine part
in Figure 1. Both transistors have the same gate voltage (with with steps of 2dB per section. The coarse ladder is an R-2R
respect to the substrate). Voltages V', and V,, are dc voltages ladder with two -6dB ladder elements per section, as shown in
but may have any value as long as the transistors are on. A Figure 2, resulting in an actual attenuation of 12.04dB and a
current Ilnflowing into or out of the circuit is divided into two characteristic impedance of 2R. The fine part is an W5-4R
parts, one part flowing into the node connected t o V,l and the ladder (resulting in an actual attenuation of 1.94dB1, with a
other flowing into the node connected to V,,. The fraction of characteristic impedance of R. The total circuit architecture
this input current flowing to one side is; constant and inde- is shown in Figure 3. Each section has a digital control input
pendent of 1," (implying low distortion), independent of the which determines whether the signal current is attenuated
values ofVa and V,, independent of whether or not one or both and is passed through to the next section or led to the output
devices are saturated, and independent of whether one or directly. A section is turned on and off simply by connecting
both devices operate in strong or weak inversion. To prove the gates of all transistors to the positive or the negative
this, use a n expression for the drain current a s a function of power supply. If a section is turned on, the signal is attenu-
the terminal voltages valid in all operating regions 131: ated and passed through t o the next section and the remain-
1, = -(W/L)vs/ Vdp(V~,V~)Q(Vg,V~)dV~, (1) ing signal fraction is drained in the dump-line. If a section is
where the mobility p and the channel charge per unit area turned off, a pass-transistor is turned on feeding signal
Q are a function of the gate voltage Vi: and the local directly to the output. The entire circuit is build up with a unit
channel voltage Vc, Both p(VgVc)and Q(VK,Vc) can be quite transistor with a geometry of 40pdlOpm.
complicated functions including secondary effects such as
mobility reduction and body-effect. With For interfacing, the circuit has a V-I converter a t the input,
F(Vg,VX) e a / ""p(Vg,V~)Q(Vg,V~)dV~( 2 ) and an I-V converter at the output, as shown in Figure 4. The
being the primitive function, the drain-current I, may be opamps were not included on chip. In the feedback-loop ofthe
written as: I, = (W/L)(F(Vp,Vb) - (Vs,V,)I (3) V-I converter the current division technique is again used as
which emphasizes the symmetry of the MOS device. shown. In this way the linearity oftheV-I and I-V conversion
Applying Equation 3 to transistors M1 and M2 gives: is determined by the resistors and the gain of the opamp.
I,, = (W,/L,)lF(Vg,Va)- F(Vg,Vm)I, (4)
I,, = (W&,)lF(Vg,V,,,) - F(Vg,V,)I. (5) Table 1shows the most important measurement results. The
If an input current is applied (Figure 11,the voltage Vn,at the dynamic range in the audio-band (0-20kHz) is 301dB with
input node will be a non-linear function of the input current respect to a maximum input signal of lVrmq.At lVrm.,THD is
Iln:Vm=Vm(IJ. Let V,(O) be the input voltage at zero input below -80dB over the audio band and below -85dB under
current. With Equations 4 and 5 the change in drain-currents 3kHz. As the unity-gain frequency of the opamps is 4.5MHz,
I,, and I,, when the input current changes from zero to I,ncan the bandwidth of the circuit is limited to 1.5MHz. Attenua-
be calculated: tion accuracy is better than 0.15dB up t o -48dB and better
AIdl = ( W ~ L i ) { F ( V g , V ~-~F(Vg,Vn>(0))I
(I,~)) (6) than 0.4dB over the entire attenuation range. Figure 5 shows
AI,, = !W,IL,)lF(Vg,Vm(0))- F(Vg,Vnl(I,,l))I (7) the difference between measured and theoretical attenuation
Note that although Vm(I,n) is a non-linear function of I,,,,the as a function of attenuation. The difference is not entirely
ratio AIdJAIc2= -(W,L,)/(W,LIJ (8) random but is largely from layout imperfections and can be
is independent of I,nand dependent only on the geometry of improved. Figure 6is a micrograph ofthe 0.22mm'chip made
the devices. Because: 1," = AI,, - AI,,, (9) in a standard CMOS process.
the same holds for and AI,JI,,,. This implies that the
current division is inherently linear and thus insensitive to References;
second-order effects like mobility reduction and body effect [ l ]McCreary, J. L., and P. R. Gray, "All-MOS charge Redistribution
and valid in all MOS transistor operating regions: strong Analog-to-Digital Conversion Techniques Part I", IEEE J. of Solid-
inversion, weak inversion, linear and saturation. In fact, the State Circuits, vol. SC-10, no. 6, pp. 371-9, Dec. 1975.
current division technique is based on the symmetry of a n
121 Lee, H., D.A.Hodges and P.R.Gray, "A self-calibrating 15 bit
MOS device expressed by Equation 3 only. CMOS AID Convertor", IEEE J. ofSolid-State Circuits, vol. SC-19, no.
6, pp 813-819, Dec. 1984.
The above principle is based on the validity of Equation 1 and
on ideal matching between the integrand function of both [31Muller, R. S.,and T. I. Kanlins, "Device Electronics for Integrated
Circuits", Wiley, New York, 1977.
linear V-l conv.

fm
current division

r ...
linear I-V Conv.

vs

Tr- c
'Ill

vinq I digital control

Figure 4. Input and output circuits.


..&"out

j dump-line

Figure 1. Basic current-divisionprinciple.

F
0.3
"R-2R "R-2R

lin
A
I
section" section"
+
to next
section
z 0.2

i
digital control dump-line

Figure 2. Coarse section with 12dB attenuation.


-0.2 '
0 IO 20 30 40 50 60 70
attenuation [dB]

Figure 5. Absolute attenuation accuracy


vs. attenuation.
a0

Figure 6: See page 281.


I I I I I'
Dynamic range 103dB
dump THD (1V . IkHz) <-85dB
THD (lVz:; 10kHz) <-80dB (limited by opamps)
Attenuation range 0 - 84dB
L Mute attenuation (0-20kHz) >120dB

-t
I Step size 2dB
igital control logic Accuracy (0 - 48dB) 0.125dB
I Accuracy (0 - 84dB) 0.4 dB
I
output Output noise (0-20kHz) 7PVme
Bandwidth 1.5 MHz (limited by opamps)
r 0
I I
Area (without opamps) 0.22mm2
Supply voltage 5.0V
dump
Table 1: Measurement results.

Figure 3. Volume control circuit.