Variable gain amplifier (VGA) is the core block of analog baseband circuits which are mainly employed in RF transceivers. For instance, it can be found in between downconversion mixers and analog-to-digital converters in the modern receiver systems.
In a nutshell, the transceiver designers need to employ such blocks because the different signals received by an antenna have different power levels due to the attenuation of transmitted signal over a large distance, as an example. However, we would like to have a certain dynamic range at the input of ADC in order to mitigate the design complexity from ADC design standpoint. Therefore, the designers must build an automated circuit which fixes its output power to a value depends on the input impedance and the required voltage swing at the input of ADC. So as to achieve this objective, either a variable gain amplifier or a programmable gain amplifier must be used as the main circuit block, according to the control circuit selection as analog control or digital control respectively.
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