The analog-to-digital converter (ADC) is a key component in digital communications receive
channels, and the correct choice of ADC is critical for optimizing system design. Two of the most popular ADC architectures today are the pipeline ADC and the sigma delta (ΣΔ) ADC. Traditionally, each has had its own distinct application areas and, interestingly, nowadays there are some areas where both can be applied.

In this article, we discuss what design factors drive the selection of the ADC, how to specify the ADC and when to choose between a pipeline ADC and a sigma delta ADC. We will look at this and determine how to make the appropriate ADC choice.