The technical ideas behind oversampling A/D converters are decades old, but the technology to mass-produce them is recent. This paper reviews the overall A/D interface task - antialiasing, sampling, and quantization - and the ways in which oversampling benefits these steps, sometimes counterintuitively. Oversampling A/D conversion can be seen to overlap and redispose these three traditionally separate functions so as to make best use of available manufacturable technology. A variety of oversampling A/D topologies, to achieve the critical step of noise shaping, are contrasted. Insight into the role of oversampling, and its diverse explanations in the literature, arises from surveying the disparate cultures of A/D conversion in the different specialties of electrical engineering.
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