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Featured Paper

The IMS Publications and Education Committee periodically feature a paper published in IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement or IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Magazine as best representing to the general public the research fields of our members.

A Review of New Time-to-Digital Conversion Techniques

Scott Tancock; Ekin Arabul; Naim Dahnoun

Time-to-digital converters (TDCs) are vital components in time and distance measurement and frequency-locking applications. There are many architectures for implementing TDCs, from simple counter TDCs to hybrid multi-level TDCs, which use many techniques in tandem. This article completes the review literature of TDCs by describing new architectures along with their benefits and tradeoffs, as well as the terminology and performance metrics that must be considered when choosing a TDC. It describes their implementation from the gate level upward and how it is affected by the fabric of the device [field-programmable gate array (FPGA) or application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC)] and suggests suitable use cases for the various techniques. Based on the results achieved in the current literature, we make recommendations on the appropriate architecture for a given task based on the number of channels and precision required, as well as the target fabric.

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