Effective Number of Bits

Effective number of bits (ENOB) is a measure of the quality of a digitised signal. The resolution of a digital-to-analog or analog-to-digital converter (DAC or ADC) is commonly specified by the number of bits used to represent the analog value, in principle giving 2N signal levels for an N-bit signal. However, all real signals contain a certain amount of noise. If the converter is able to represent signal levels below the system noise floor, the lower bits of the digitised signal only represent system noise and do not contain useful information. ENOB specifies the number of bits in the digitised signal above the noise floor. Often ENOB is used as a quality measure also for other blocks like sample-and-hold amplifiers. This way also analog blocks can be easily included to signal-chain calculations as the total ENOB of a chain of blocks is usually below the ENOB of the worst block.

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Effective Number Of Bits - Example
... The following are measurements of a 3-bit unipolar D/A converter with reference voltage Vref = 8 V Digital Input 111 ... Analog Output (V) -0.01 1.03 2.02 ... absolute deviation, in this case 0.08 V The effective number of bits relative accuracy is calculated using the largest relative (INL) deviation, in this case 0.09 V For this kind of ENOB calculation, note ... the ENOB is smaller than the ANOB, this means that some of the least significant bits of the result are inaccurate ...

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