With this week’s introduction of the industry’s smallest, lowest power MHz oscillators designed for the wearable, IoT and mobile markets, MEMS-based timing has once again shattered the limitations of quartz. The SiT8021 oscillator is the first device in our new family of µPower MHz oscillators which offer dramatic improvements over legacy quartz oscillators:

  • 90% lower power – extends battery life
  • 40% smaller – enables smaller products
  • 70% lighter – enables lighter wearables

SiT8021 low power oscillatorThese are benefits that offer unique value for smart watches, fitness bands and health monitoring devices, tablets, smart phones, wireless IP cameras, portable audio and accessories. Within these products, the SiT8021 can provide a low frequency reference for several functions including a low-power MCU or SoC, audio interface and glue logic.

Designers of these battery-powered products face a challenge in finding a timing reference that is both tiny and low power. Prior to MEMS technology, electronic devices used quartz crystal-based oscillators. But with quartz resonators, the lower the frequency, the larger the resonator. MEMS do not have this constraint.

How is micro power achieved?

The SiT8021 draws only 100 µA of current. This is achieved through innovations in both the MEMS and analog technologies employed in our µPower products. Like SiTime’s µPower 32 kHz SiT15xx solutions, the 1-26 MHz SiT8021 uses a 524-kHz resonator based on SiTime’s groundbreaking TempFlat MEMS™ technology. This provides several benefits. First, because the SiT8021 uses a kHz reference instead of a MHz reference, it consumes much less power. In addition, there is no need for on-chip compensation circuitry on the oscillator die because the native frequency stability of TempFlat MEMS™ is adequate for 100 PPM oscillators. This reduces both the power consumption and the die size. The frequency synthesizer within the oscillator utilizes a highly optimized phased lock loop (PLL) to attain this high performance at MHz frequencies.

SiTime SiT8021 micro power MHz oscillator architecture block diagram

How is ultra small size achieved?

MEMS oscillators are inherently very small. The typical size of SiTime’s MEMS resonator die is only 0.4 x 0.4 mm and it has a mass that is 1/3000th the mass of a typical quartz crystal resonator. MEMS resonators are manufactured using standard CMOS equipment and are hermetically sealed within a silicon die. Because our resonators are fully encapsulated in silicon, they can be packaged using modern IC packaging technologies such as WL-CSP (wafer-level chip scale packaging) that yield the smallest packages. In this configuration, the MEMS die is mounted on the oscillator die, and the latter defines the footprint dimensions of the device, i.e. 1.5 x 0.8 mm which is 40% smaller than any quartz oscillator on the market. At this size, the SiT8021 is not only the industry’s smallest oscillator in terms of footprint, but it’s 45% thinner with a height of 0.55 mm. This allows system designers to be flexible with their board layout and creative in achieving smaller form factors. And at 1.28 mg, the SiT8021 is 70% lighter than the lightest quartz-based oscillator, giving designers a new way to reduce the overall product weight.

By pushing the boundaries in size, weight and power reductions, the SiT8021 continues SiTime’s history of innovation and industry firsts. We’re excited to see the new generation of products our customers will develop as they adopt of our new µPower oscillators and design products that were previously not possible.

Since introduction, SiTime’s TempFlat MEMS-based 32 kHz SiT15xx oscillators and TCXOs have been revolutionizing the world of electronic timing. And the industry has taken notice.

Why the attention? With an ultra-small footprint and power saving features, the SiT15xx families have received recognition for their innovative design, and capability to cut space by up to 80% and power by 50%. These dramatic improvements have enabled our customers to design novel products with much longer battery life in smaller, more attractive form factors. In addition to enthusiastic customer adoption in wearables, IoT and other battery-powered markets, our SiT15xx oscillators have received several industry honors.smallest oscillator, lowest power

Most recently, the SiT1552 TCXO family was announced as a finalist in the 2015 ECN IMPACT Awards within the Analog & Mixed Signal IC category. The IMPACT Awards recognize excellence and innovation in the design of electronics. This accolade follows the esteemed ACE Awards, held last fall by EDN and EE Times publications, where the SIT15xx oscillator family was on a very short list of finalists in the Analog IC Ultimate Product category. The SiT15xx was also a finalist in EDN China’s 2014 Innovation Awards as well as the China ACE Awards.

We are honored because placement in these awards programs is determined by large-scale peer review and/or voting by the publication’s readers who are our customers and peers. On top of this, we are especially honored to win a spot in the analog categories where our products compete against those of the largest analog IC companies. This is a testament to SiTime’s transformation of oscillators from passive components to configurable, feature-rich timing solutions built on a combination of groundbreaking MEMS and analog technologies.

Beyond these prominent awards, our 32 kHz SiT15xx families were named on top technology and product lists. The SiT1552 TCXO was included on EDN”s latest Hot 100 list, an annual list that recognizes technology products that push the envelope in areas like mobile devices, wearable technology, the Internet of Things (IOT), and connectivity. In Electronic Design’s Top 101 Components list, the SiT15xx oscillator was near the top of the list along with Telit’s Jupiter SE880 receiver where together our two products enable the world’s smallest and lowest power GPS receiver.

We are proud of the recognition that our products have received from the most prestigious industry publications. As well, we are proud of the talented, creative and passionate SiTime employees that made these achievements possible. We believe this success is precipitated by our devotion to developing breakthrough products that allow others to continue to innovate in their own respective fields.

We are excited that our oscillators have been so well received by those in our industry. However, we are more excited about providing our MEMS and analog technologies in the next wave of cutting edge electronic products.

Today SiTime is introducing the World’s first 32kHz MEMS timing devices. This is a huge deal, and it will forever change the way people measure time.

Inside almost every electronic product there is a clock tracking the time of day. There is one in your watch of course, but also in your cell phone, computer, tablet, microwave oven, Wi-Fi router, printer, car, and just about everything else.

Most of these clocks are presently based on 32kHz quartz crystal resonators. These were first introduced in the 1970’s and have proliferated, with about ten billion units being built each year. Yes, that is billion with a B, and it is more than one for each person on earth, every year. Of course most of you reading this blog buy more than one a year.

Now MEMS will replace these crystals. MEMS can keep time better, with smaller size, more reliably, and with less power. Compared to the legacy quartz crystals, SiTime’s 32kHz MEMS oscillators:

  • Take a sixth of the PCB area
  • Use half the power
  • Are fifteen times more reliable
  • Are twice as accurate

We have been sampling these devices for a while. Customer interest is tremendous, and we expect that these parts will drive SiTime’s fastest production ramp ever.

So here it is … Day #1 of a new way for Humanity to keep time.

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