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Silicon Labs touts single-die alternative to quartz crystals

Posted: 28 Jun 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS? CMOS? oscillators?

By fully qualifying its monolithic fabrication technique, the first CMEMS familythe Silicon Labs 50xwas designed from the ground up to achieve smaller size, higher reliability, better ageing characteristics and lower cost than the competition.

"We took the necessary time during the development of the SiLabs-50x to make sure that our first CMEMS oscillator family was not only smaller, more stable and more reliable than quartz, but also that it was scalable and less expensive than both quartz and the two-die MEMS oscillators from our competitors," Quevy said.

Because the MEMS elements of a CMEMS chip are located on top of a standard dieinstead of on the bottom or sandwiched between layersany CMOS foundry can create and test them using ordinary fabrication and wafer probe techniques.

By incorporating materials with opposite temperature coefficients into the construction of its MEMS resonator, CMEMS lightens the load on its frequency-locked loop circuitry too, resulting in frequency stability that it claims is superior to both quartz and competing MEMS oscillators. And by fully characterizing its CMEMS oscillators, Silicon Labs can now guarantee an operating life 10 times longer than either quartz or competitors MEMS oscillators, all-the-while maintaining superior frequency stability despite extreme temperatures, solder shift, load pulling, vibration, shock and power-supply variations.

The Si50x CMEMS family is designed for frequencies between 32kHz and 100MHz with frequency stability options as low as plus or minus 20 parts per million over the entire industrial temperature range of minus 4 to plus 85C. Less expensive models with loosened stability and temperature range options are also available. Programmable options support multiple low-power modes, low-period jitter modes, programmable rise-fall times and polarity-configurable output-enable lines.

Customers can customise their own parts using field-programmable "blanks" or can use online tools to order custom-made samples within two weeks. Packages as small as 2-by-2.5mmsmm are available, as are larger packages that are pin-compatible with existing quartz and MEMS oscillators facilitating easy performance comparisons and retrofits. Models are available with one-, two- or four-frequency outputs as well as a fully programmable model that allows frequency fine-tuning measured in parts per billion.

- R Colin Johnson
??EE Times

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