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12 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I FEBRUARY 2022 PCB Design Challenges: Change is Good In 2022, PCB designers are faced with two big challenges: demands for increased perfor- mance and a condensed product footprint. So, what's new? I recall some 50-odd years ago the challenges for the electronics professional were much the same. I had just become comfortable with valves and then came diodes, transistors, and LEDs. Aer mastering germanium and then silicon diodes/transistors, along came op-amps. Now, these devices were very mys- terious. Basically, they have several transistors acting as pre-built functional blocks packaged into an 8-pin DIL package. ey had many uses from amplifiers to comparators and issued in the start of digital electronics. And who could forget the 555 timer with its millions of appli- cations? Next were digital logic gates. Now, these multiple gate devices could be run at an aston- ishing 10 MHz which seemed incredibly fast at the time. You could combine them to perform almost any digital function. Analog-to-digital (ADC) and digital-to-analog (DAC) convert- ers allowed us to mix the analog world with the digital. en in 1974, Intel released the 8080 8-bit microprocessor followed closely by the 8086 16-bit chip. In the early 1980s, I was work- ing in the Microprocessor Research Lab at the University of Western Australia. We were building portable computers into desks on wheels for the Masters' and PhD candidates using these processors. ese machines were a major step-up from the departmental PDP- 1140. e Z80 CPU, which was an extension of the 8080, became very popular with enthusi- asts. I bought a UK-developed MicroBee Z80 kit which had 16K of RAM expandable up to 64K (if I would ever have a use for such a huge amount of memory). I recall that some colleagues totally rejected computers and never took the time to step up to the new emerging technology and were le behind. Whereas those of us who embraced it were whisked along with the trending com- puter upsurge. Beyond Design Feature Column by Barry Olney, IN-CIRCUIT DESIGN PTY LTD / AUSTRALIA

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