Digital step attenuators (DSAs) can provide a simple means of controlling amplitude in a system. But there is much to learn about DSAs before simply specifying one and adding it to a circuit. They are characterized by a number of different performance parameters-including insertion loss, linearity, attenuation accuracy, and switching speed-each of which can impact the overall performance of a circuit or system. A DSA with nonlinear behavior, for example, can degrade the performance of a modern communications system that uses digital modulation. One with inadequate attenuation accuracy can impose changes in amplitude that may be unexpected. To learn more about the fine details of DSAs, click here.