A Gray-Encoded Ring oscillator for Efficient Frequency-to-Digital Conversion in VCO-Based ADCs Articles uri icon

publication date

  • November 2022

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1549-7747

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1558-3791


  • The most common implementation of a VCO-based ADC consists of a ring oscillator connected to a thermometer-encoded frequency-to-digital converter. The area of the frequency-to-digital converter depends linearly on the ring oscillator number of taps. In this paper, we show a new frequency-to-digital converter which directly provides a Gray-encoded binary output from the ring oscillator signals. This implementation reduces the digital hardware area in a logarithmic factor keeping the same metastability robustness than the thermometric frequency-to-digital converter. Direct binary coding may simplify data compression and transfer in area-constrained multi-channel instrumentation systems such as neural probes. We show the basic system level structure along with a practical example with circuit simulations in 0.13um CMOS technology.


  • ring oscillators; voltage-controlled oscillators; frequency conversion; logic gates; thermometers; flip-flops; reflective binary codes