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Functional Safety in a Data Acquisition System

Introduction

Functional safety is part of an overall safety strategy within many industries that attempts to reduce, to a tolerable level, the probability of harm coming to humans or operating equipment. The requirement for systems to be functionally safe has grown significantly in recent years. From nuclear power plants to medical devices, an errorless system has become an ideal for some and a necessity for others. For example, in the sensing world, acquiring incorrect or corrupted data can be devastating and potentially lethal depending on the system and the level of risk involved.

Traditionally, the onus was on the system developer to incorporate diagnostic and failure prevention mechanisms onto their products to ensure integrity of the data coming from the sensing IC. This came at the cost of PCB area, bill of materials, processing overhead, and, ultimately, expense. Since then, through extensive engagement with system design engineers, a solution has been developed to address this problem for them. To that effect, functional safety features have begun to be designed in at the IC level.

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