With increasingly sophisticated Smartphones and mobile devices offering more features and un-tethered instant access to data, news and entertainment, consumers are spending more time using their devices. Users are demanding faster connectivity, multi-core Ghz+ application processors and HD resolution touch screens, while at the same time, expecting to last longer on a single battery charge. Mobile device designers must carefully consider how to meet the conflicting demands of extending battery life while supporting faster, more power-hungry processors and LCD screens. Design options typically fall into two main categories: 1. reduce overall power consumption, or 2. increase battery capacity.
Battery and display technologies have not kept up with the exponential progress in semiconductor design and processes over the last decade. With the space and weight constraints of MIDs, only incremental increases in battery capacity are possible using current battery technologies. Designers are left to employ creative ways to reduce overall power consumption. One technique to reduce power consumption is to shut down the functional blocks with the highest current drain and switch to the lowest power suspend/sleep state when devices are inactive. However, during the low power state, the always-ON clocks continue to draw battery power. New MEMS-based time-keeping solutions offer unique power saving strategies with programmable output frequencies and output drive swing levels. Drawing a mere 750 nA core current, these timing devices can run off of an unregulated LiIon or regulated power, thus bringing more options to mobile device designers.