[time-nuts] Single ended or differential input to TDC chip

Attila Kinali attila at kinali.ch
Mon Mar 27 12:05:13 EDT 2017


We (the group I am with and a group at TU Vienna) are currently designing
an ASIC (digital 65nm process) that will contain a TDC part. The TDC will
be a simple delay line TDC design using differential buffers, which we
expect to give us something in the order of 20ps of resolution (hopefully
better, but we will not know until we get post-layout simulation data).
We are loosely following the design CERN came up with for their new TDC chip[1].

Now, the TDC expects a differential input, but the system gets single-ended
pulses as input (50R coax input, level likely to be CMOS 3.3V, but level not
fixed yet, ie can be freely choosen). I can either convert these single-ended
signals into differential off-chip or on-chip. Unfortunately, I lack knowledge
and experience to judge either approach. The issues I see are:

* Single-ended input in a chip might lead to shifting ground potential
  on the chip and thus to measurment jitter.
* There are different architectures to preform the single-ended to differential
  conversion on-chip, but I have no clue which one to choose or even how
  to judge them without extensive simulations for which we do not have the
  time, know-how and probably not even the tools.
* Conversion to differential off-chip means another component off-chip
  that might introduce additional delay uncertainty (our application is
  very sensitive to that) and an unknown amount of jitter.

My google foo has been so far not strong enough to find answers to these

I would appreciate if someone could give me some hints in this matter
or tell me where I could find appropriate literature and maybe even
tell me whether I am missing anything.

Thanks in advance

				Attila Kinali

[1] https://indico.cern.ch/event/228972/contributions/1539621/attachments/378552/526492/TDC_TWEPP_2013.pdf 
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