What is a precision analog microcontroller?
A precision analog microcontroller combines high-performance analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) and digital-to-analog converters (DACs) with a single-chip processor and peripherals that often are designed to augment the analog support. Precision analog microcontrollers are used extensively in applications such as industrial, instrumentation, automotive, and communications infrastructure. For example, particular applications like motor control require features such as multiple, synchronized pulsewidth modulation (PWM) timer support. The class of processors ranges from 8-bit cores such as an 8051 to 32 bits such as the ARM7.
Does the inclusion of a DAC or ADC make a precision analog microcontroller?
Not necessarily. The type and quality of the analog support can vary widely. Some applications don't need high resolution or fast throughput and can use basic analog support. Other applications require better accuracy. The analog peripherals frequently are merged with hardware such as shared memory or DMA to reduce host processor overhead while increasing throughput. This can enable the host to process more information or forward it to an external host more quickly.