SiTime, Silicon MEMS Oscillators and Clock Generators

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Conference Presentations

Designers of Things Conference 2015

Smart Clocking Techniques Extend Battery Life of Wearables
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This presentation provides an overview of the clock architecture schemes for wearables and low power wireless protocols deployed in cloud connected wearables. It introduces the concept of ultra-small, micro-power high-accuracy clock sources that can be leveraged to reduce device footprint while conserving power to extend battery life. Test results demonstrate a 30% power savings when using a 32 kHz TCXO compared to a 32 kHz crystal on a BLE evaluation platform.

A new wave of on-the-body personal devices such as sports bands, smart watches and medical wearables are poised for unprecedented growth. These wearables serve one common purpose:  easy and instant access to data. What are the underlying trends and requirements common to these cloud-connected wearables that will drive the projected growth and adoption?

  • Reduced device size
  • Longer battery life
  • Continuous connectivity to the internet

For designer of wearables, the above features are conflicting and challenging to meet. Due to the use of limited battery capacity driven by the tight space constraints, designers of these wearables must adopt aggressive power management techniques to squeeze out hours, if not days, from a coin-cell battery.  
Wearables are designed around a low power MCU and sensors to collect and compress data and send it to the cloud via a power miser RF link to an internet hub (i.e. smart phone) in short bursts, and then go to sleep to conserve power. Battery life is dependent  on the power consumption of the MCU and the RF front-end.  Power consumption of the RF link depends on the wireless interface protocol and transceiver implementation. Currently there are three main low power wireless standards used in wearables:

  • ANT
  • ZigBee
  • Bluetooth low energy (BLE)

This presentation provides a short overview of the pros and cons of these three wireless protocols from a viewpoint of meeting the power budget and communication link requirements of short-range Personal Area Network (PAN). We discuss a clocking architecture that reduces device footprint while conserving power  by leveraging the combination of ultra-small, micro-power,  high-accuracy clock sources that wakes up the system only when data needs to be uploaded, thus allowing the wearables to stay in sleep mode longer to reduce power consumption and extend battery life. We present test results that demonstrate a >30% power savings when using a 32 kHz TCXO compared to a 32 kHz crystal on a Dialog Semiconductor BLE evaluation platform.

Presentation Contents:

  • Overview of Today’s Wearables and RF Protocols
  • BLE Power Savings Model
  • Overview of Clock Sources
  • μPower MEMS Clocks
  • Smart Clocking Techniques
  • Power Savings Demonstration: Dialog Semiconductor BLE Platform

ISSCC 2012 Tutorial

Getting In Touch with MEMS: The Electromechanical Interface
2012 ISSCC Tutorial - Written for practicing IC engineers and students
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MEMS systems include mechanical structures and electronic sense and drive circuits. Between these is an electromechanical interface, which can be capacitive, piezoresistive, piezoelectric, ferroelectric, electromagnetic, thermal, optical or can take some other form. The selection of this interface is the single most critical decision in the system definition and it determines the eventual capabilities and limits of the device.

The interface fundamentally sets the device's sensitivity, accuracy, drift, ageing, temperature behavior, and environmental capabilities. The interface determines the MEMS production technology and hence the fab selection, the cost structure, and the time to market. This tutorial examines and compares the available options and application drivers. Which interface technologies can be used? Why is one more suitable for a particular application than another? How do they scale? What is on the horizon? The goal is to expand the attendee's potential role from circuit designer to system designer. From "Here is the MEMS device, design the interface circuit." into "Here is the problem, define an optimal solution."

Presentation content:

  • MEMS Materials, Processes and Example Applications
  • Electrical Interfaces
  • Scaling Laws
  • Packaging is Critical
  • CMOS Integration
  • How to Succeed


MEMS-Based Resonators and Oscillators are Now Replacing Quartz
2012 ISSCC Session on Technologies that Could Change the World
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MEMS timing is here now. MEMS will replace quartz oscillators in most applications. The value-add is strong enough to transform an industry. This presentation provides a short overview of MEMS timing technology, its benefits and recent developments.

White Papers

Application White Papers - Mobile / Portable / Wearables

Extending Battery Life of Wireless Medical Devices

To continuously monitor and upload vital data, wireless medical devices need long battery life and long-term connectivity to the cloud. This paper discusses the advantages of Bluetooth® low energy (BLE) and a new architecture using an ultra-small, high-accuracy sleep clock that wakes up only when vitals must be updated, thus allowing the medical device to stay in sleep mode longer to reduce power consumption and extend battery life.
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MEMS Oscillators: Enabling Smaller, Lower Power Wearables
The explosive growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables is fueled by advancements in miniaturization and new power efficiencies. MEMS sensor and timing technologies are playing a major role. A new class of low current, MEMS solutions offers advantages over the ubiquitous 32 kHz crystal clock with benefits that include smaller footprints, lower power and higher accuracy that allows devices to extend sleep mode.
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MEMS Timekeeper Extends Standby Life of Mobile Devices

This paper discusses how to extend battery life with techniques such as shutting down functional blocks with the highest current drain and switching to suspend or sleep states, and use of unique power saving strategies – such as programmable output frequencies and programmable output drive swing levels – that reduce power consumption of always ON clocks used in mobile devices.
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MEMS Timing Technology: Shattering the Constraints of Quartz Timing to Improve Smart Mobile Devices

Mobile device designers and manufacturers require components that can save space and power. The latest MEMS timing technology, such as 1 Hz to 32 kHz solutions, can reduce footprint by up to 85%, reduce power by up to 50% and increase reliability and performance. SiTime’s MEMS timing solutions are based on a programmable platform to offer additional features and a wide selection of options with very short lead times.
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How to Improve Tablet PCs and Other Portable Devices with MEMS Timing Technology

Market dynamics are quickly changing with the success of the iPad, iPhone and Android-based devices. MEMS-based timing solutions enable designers to differentiate their products and meet their needs for devices with smaller size, more features, higher performance, better reliability and durability. Learn how manufacturers of portable devices can leverage both the performance advantages as well as supply chain benefits of new timing technology.
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Application White Papers - Industrial / Medical / Meters / Lighting / Motor Control

Enhance Performance of Industrial Equipment with High-temperature, Ultra Robust MEMS Oscillators

Reference timing components are used in industrial electronic systems to synchronize all signals to the clock source. Electronic equipment used in harsh industrial environments must be highly resilient and robust, and must contain components that are designed to operate in extreme environments. Learn how MEMS-based oscillators offer new features, flexibility and superior reliability that is ideal for industrial applications.
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Extending Battery Life of Wireless Medical Devices

To continuously monitor and upload vital data, wireless medical devices need long battery life and long-term connectivity to the cloud. This paper discusses the advantages of Bluetooth® low energy (BLE) and a new architecture using an ultra-small, high-accuracy sleep clock that wakes up only when vitals must be updated, thus allowing the medical device to stay in sleep mode longer to reduce power consumption and extend battery life.
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Field Programmable Timing Solutions for Medical Applications

MEMS oscillators are well suited for meeting the special requirements (e.g., electromagnetic compatibility) of diverse electronic medical devices. Medical device applications, which tend to be highly specific, require flexible and robust timing solutions. Learn about programmable MEMS-based architecture, ultra resilient field programmable and low power devices, and features such as spread spectrum and programmable drive strength for EMI reduction.
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Ultra Robust MEMS Timing Solutions Improve Performance and Reliability of Smart Meters

Smart meters are often subjected to a variety of harsh operating environments. Reference timing devices must conform to their specifications under these conditions and over long periods of time. With intrinsic robustness and resiliency, specialized features that improve system performance, short lead times and low cost, MEMS-based components are rapidly replacing legacy quartz components in metering equipment.

Silicon MEMS Oscillators Provide Benefits for LED Lighting

Silicon MEMS-based oscillators are the preferred timing solution for many lighting systems, especially those used for industrial and commercial installations. MEMS oscillators have better performance and reliability compared to quartz-based devices. The all-silicon programmable architecture, flexible features and special functions of MEMS oscillators help resolve design issues, and they offer lower cost and shorter lead-times for lighting manufactures.

MEMS Timing Solutions Improve System Performance and Reliability in Motor Control Applications

MEMS timing devices are rapidly replacing quartz devices in electronic motors because they offer better reliability, improved performance and stability, more features, short lead times and lower cost. Motor controlled equipment is often subject to extreme temperatures, high levels of shock and vibration, and electromagnetic noise. In the presence of these conditions, oscillators must operate reliably. This paper includes performance data on various oscillators tested under various environmental conditions.
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Application White Papers - Consumer

MEMS Timing Solutions Are Ideal for Digital Camera Applications

Oscillators are used in cameras to clock the image sensor and main processor. New MEMS-based timing devices allow designers to differentiate cameras with increased performance, higher accuracy and new features. Learn how to use new timing solutions to design products with lower jitter, excellent frequency stability, smaller size, longer batter life and improved reliability.
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MEMS Timing Solutions Improve Touchscreen Devices
MEMS-based oscillators and resonators offer new benefits to systems that use touchscreen technology. The benefits include higher system performance and reliability with immunity to shock, vibration, and noise; better touchscreen performance with lower internal EMI enabled by spread spectrum and edge rate control; plus supply chain benefits such as lower cost, short lead-times, and flexible features.
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Application White Papers - Automotive

Increase Automotive Reliability and Performance with High-temperature, Ultra Robust MEMS Oscillators

Today’s highest quality AEC-Q100 timing solutions are based on MEMS technology, a technology that is inherently more robust and reliable than quartz. MEMS-based timing solutions have low vibration sensitivity (g-sensitivity of 0.1 ppb/g), wider operating frequencies (1 to 137 MHz), extended temperature ranges (-55 to +155°C), tighter frequency stability, better packaging options, programmable features, and short lead-time at lower cost.

White Papers - Other

Clock Features for Power Conscious and Greener Applications

When designing clock sources in power conscious applications, various timing technologies and clock features should be considered as they affect power consumption differently. This paper discusses power-saving features, performance and layout issues; and compares the tradeoffs of the three main reference clock types (XTAL, oscillator and clock generator) and the two main timing technologies (quartz verses MEMS).