Switching and Timing Circuits
Switching and timing circuits, or logic circuits, form the heart of any device where signals must be selected or combined in a controlled manner. Applications of these circuits include telephone switching, satellite transmissions, and digital computer operations.
Digital logic is a rational process for making simple true or false decisions based on the rules of Boolean algebra. True can be represented by a 1 and false by a 0, and in logic circuits the numerals appear as signals of two different voltages. Logic circuits are used to make specific true-false decisions based on the presence of multiple true-false signals at the inputs. The signals may be generated by mechanical switches or by solid-state transducers. Once the input signal has been accepted and conditioned (to remove unwanted electrical signals, or noise), it is processed by the digital logic circuits. The various families of digital logic devices, usually integrated circuits, perform a variety of logic functions through logic gates, including OR, AND, and NOT, and combinations of these (such as NOR, which includes both OR and NOT). One widely used logic family is the transistor-transistor logic (TTL). Another family is the complementary metal oxide semiconductor logic (CMOS), which performs similar functions at very low power levels but at slightly lower operating speeds. Several other, less popular families of logic circuits exist, including the currently obsolete resistor-transistor logic (RTL) and the emitter coupled logic (ELC), the latter used for very-high-speed systems.
The elemental blocks in a logic device are called digital logic gates. An AND gate has two or more inputs and a single output. The output of an AND gate is true only if all the inputs are true. An OR gate has two or more inputs and a single output. The output of an OR gate is true if any one of the inputs is true and is false if all of the inputs are false. An INVERTER has a single input and a single output terminal and can change a true signal to a false signal, thus performing the NOT function. More complicated logic circuits are built up from elementary gates. They include flip-flops (binary switches), counters, comparators, adders, and more complex combinations.
To perform a desired overall function, large numbers of logic elements may be connected in complex circuits. In some cases microprocessors are used to perform many of the switching and timing functions of the individual logic elements. The processors are specifically programmed with individual instructions to perform a given task or tasks. An advantage of microprocessors is that they make possible the performance of different logic functions, depending on the program instructions that are stored. A disadvantage of microprocessors is that normally they operate in a sequential mode, which may be too slow for some applications. In these cases specifically designed logic circuits are used.