Turning a bipolar transistor on and off takes time.

No Brain: Use speed-up capacitors to create a powerful surge of current at switching to force it turning faster.

Small brain: Design a new class of Schottky-clamped transistors, which uses an integrated Baker Clamp to make the transistor stay exactly at the edge of being fully on.

Big Brain: Design a new class of high-speed switching transistors by developing a new semiconductor process which dopes a tiny amount of gold into the base area of the transistor, so it stores less electric charge and turns off faster.

Galaxy Brain: ECL. What? Turning a transistor on and off takes time? Don't turn it off then, just keep all the transistors on all the time!

"Wait! Just how much of the tremendous amount of power are you going to burn?"
ECL designers: "Yes."

Follow

How to make an Analog-to-Digital Converter.

No Brain: Count the time it takes to charge and discharge a capacitor.

Small Brain: Track the analog signal by varying the duty cycle or pulse rate of a digital square wave.

Big Brain: Thinking backwards is the key. Make a simple digital-to-analog converter, then do a binary search over all quantization levels and compare.

Galaxy Brain: LoL. Just make 256 or 1024 comparators, each for a different level, put the signal in and get your result out, simple as that!

"Wait! Just how much transistors and die area you're going to pay? How much power you're going to burn? "
Flash ADC designers: "Yes."

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