It might seem counter intuitive that an active device solution consumes less power than a passive device. Every design engineer knows that a passive crystal resonator (XTAL) doesn’t draw power, so why use an oscillator in place of an XTAL in a power sensitive application? The answer becomes clear when total system power is considered.

Battery powered products typically employ one or more timing components. If a XTAL is used, it doesn’t draw current directly from the battery. However, to make the resonator oscillate, it must be driven by an oscillator circuit that resides on a MCU or SoC. And this on-chip oscillator circuit can burn a lot of power.

MEMS-based μPower oscillators provide a lower power alternative to quartz crystal resonators. A highly optimized low-power frequency synthesizer and analog circuitry drives the TempFlat MEMS™ resonator to achieve factory programmable frequencies with microamp-level core currents. In power sensitive applications, a MHz resonator can be replaced with these μPower oscillators and the on-chip oscillator circuit on the MCU/SoC can be turned off. As shown in the diagram below, a SiT8021 μPower oscillator connects directly to the XIN pin and simply bypasses the on-chip XTAL OSC circuit, resulting in a net power saving at the system level.

Internal oscillator off

When a μPower oscillator replaces a crystal XTAL, the combined current consumption of the oscillator + MCU is lowered by 7% during the active state. Whereas in standby mode, 18% savings can be realized. During standby, the oscillator consumes only ≤ 0.9 μA because all internal circuits are turned off with the exception of the MEMS oscillator circuit and the ST pin detection logic.

Active current and standby current

In addition to consuming less system power, SiTime’s μPower oscillators – measuring only 1.5 x 0.8 mm – consume less board space, an important factor since many power sensitive products are also space sensitive. (See related blog: Shattering the Limits of Power, Size and Weight)

Another advantage of using an oscillator is its capability to drive multiple loads – something XTALs can’t do. When driving more than one load, power consumption increases only fractionally, compounding the power savings benefits of turning off OSC circuits onboard multiple chips (e.g., MCU + audio DAC). In addition to lowering system power, this approach reduces board space, BOM and costs.

 

 

portable audio designWhen a MEMS-based μPower oscillator replaces a quartz oscillator, the power savings are even more dramatic. In a portable audio application for example, a SiT8021 oscillator operating at 3.072 MHz draws only 60 μA compared to a quartz oscillator at 2.5 mA. In this case, the power consumption is 98% lower. This can effectively extend battery life by a full day – a huge improvement.

 

 

SiTime’s revolutionary MEMS and analog technology delivers a solution that lowers total power consumption dramatically. If low power is critical, look at the big picture for big system-level improvements.

Today, the pace of innovation in electronics is increasing and the adoption rate of new technologies is accelerating1. As a result, electronics companies are under increasing pressure to get to market quickly with a well-designed, differentiated product – one that offers true customer benefits. To be successful, OEMs need responsive suppliers that provide products that are readily available.

Semiconductor suppliers have used programmable technology to provide solutions that can be configured quickly and are available with short lead-times. SiTime is using programmable analog technology to ensure that its MEMS timing solutions are easily configurable to the customer’s exact specifications and readily available. Now, in the interest of rapid availability, SiTime has enabled Digi-Key to offer our custom-programmed MEMS oscillators with 24-hour lead-times.

This is a tremendous improvement over the options available from quartz suppliers which are available only in limited frequencies, stabilities and supply voltages. Customers will greatly benefit from the unbeatable combination of programmable feature-rich timing products and fast-turn service. It’s not a coincidence that the adoption of MEMS timing is accelerating along with the pace of innovation.

 

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1. Harvard Business Review: The Pace of Technology Adoption is Speeding Up by Rita McGrath; blogs.hrb.org

 

Today, the pace of innovation in electronics is increasing and the adoption rate of new technologies is accelerating1. As a result, electronics companies are under increasing pressure to get to market quickly with a well-designed, differentiated product – one that offers true customer benefits. To be successful, OEMs need responsive suppliers that provide products that are readily available.

Semiconductor suppliers have used programmable technology to provide solutions that can be configured quickly and are available with short lead-times. SiTime is using programmable analog technology to ensure that its MEMS timing solutions are easily configurable to the customer’s exact specifications and readily available. Now, in the interest of rapid availability, SiTime has enabled Digi-Key to offer our custom-programmed MEMS oscillators with 24-hour lead-times.

This is a tremendous improvement over the options available from quartz suppliers which are available only in limited frequencies, stabilities and supply voltages. Customers will greatly benefit from the unbeatable combination of programmable feature-rich timing products and fast-turn service. It’s not a coincidence that the adoption of MEMS timing is accelerating along with the pace of innovation.

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1. Harvard Business Review: The Pace of Technology Adoption is Speeding Up by Rita McGrath, blogs.hrb.org

Designers often focus first on the MPU/MCU/SOC or other components that are central to their system. Sometimes selecting the timing components is an afterthought. But with MEMS timing technology, designers now have more options that can significantly optimize system performance and dramatically reduce size and power. Understanding today’s options and selecting timing devices carefully is important since the clock signal is the heartbeat of every digital electronic system and these timing components can impact the performance of the entire system.

Making it easy for something so important

Search-selecting-timing-componentsWith our new parametric search engine we’ve made it easy to search our broad product portfolio that contains over 50 configurable core products. Our programmable architecture enables an almost endless combination of frequencies, voltages and stability (ppm) options. And these specifications don’t limit package size. Since MEMS resonators don’t have the size and frequency limitations of quartz, we can offer low frequency products in the industry’s smallest packages.

We’ve found the following key parameters to be the most important criteria for our customers when selecting a timing component. Our products can be searched by these parameters, and are available within these wide ranges.

  • Operating Frequency: 1 to 32768 Hz, 1 to 625 MHz (6 decimal places of accuracy)
  • Oscillator Type: Oscillator (XO), TCXO, VCXO, DCXO, Spread Spectrum Oscillator, SOT23 Oscillator
  • Output Logic: NanoDrive, LVCMOS, LVPECL, LVDS, HCSL, CML
  • Frequency Stability: +/- 5 ppm to +/- 100 ppm
  • Operating Temperature: up to -55 to +125
  • Supply Voltage: 1.2 to 3.63V (kHz Oscillators), 1.8 to 3.3V (MHz Oscillators)
  • Package Size: 1508, 2012, 2016, 2520, 2928 (SOT23), 3225, 3530, 5032, 7050

We know MEMS-based timing is an easy choice over legacy quartz-based products which have reached their limitations in areas that are most important in today’s designs – parameters such as size, stability, reliability and power. That’s why we’ve made it easy to select the optimum timing component with our broad product line, unique features and new search tool. We welcome your feedback as you browse our products and use our parametric search.

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