Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Expecting to replace traditional 32 kHz crystals in microprocessor and microcontroller-based systems, Micro Oscillator, Inc. (MOI) says its new all-silicon CMOS-based clock oscillator will match the performance of 32 kHz crystals. The key benefit of the new device is its integration capability. However, it has not been proved out in silicon . . . yet. The good news is with MOI's performance track record in the MHz range, there's almost no doubt it can deliver the target spec.
Based on standard CMOS IC technology, this new device may be the first all-silicon oscillator to offer a frequency in the kHz range. But the key benefit of the technology may be its ability to be integrated into other silicon ICs, which will be a big benefit to mobile handset manufacturers in terms of board space savings, and potentially, a cost savings.
The real potential is integration, said Scott Smyser, director and senior analyst for wireless and networking research at iSuppli Corp. "In the scheme of things, you're only eliminating one component, a 32 kHz crystal, but it's still fairly significant because it may cost as much as 40 cents. Mobile handset manufacturers continually drive down package sizes, and look to integrate as much as possible as they increase functionality to both reduce size and potentially to cost reduce their designs," he said.
The primary frequency of the MOI-32 will be 32.768 kHz; therefore, it will target 32 kHz crystal applications including sleep mode timing for mobile handsets and real-time clock functionality for PCs. The total tolerance will be ±0.01%, or ±00ppm over a standard temperature range of 0°C to 70°C. Total tolerance is inclusive of initial frequency tolerance, tolerance over temperature and voltage, and long-term tolerance.
The MOI-32 will also operate over an industrial temperature range of -40°C to 85°C with a total tolerance of ±0.025%, or ±250ppm.
A key limitation of the technology has been tolerance, however, the company claims it can reach a frequency stability of 100 ppm over a commercial temperature range, which is slightly better than a 32 kHz crystal, Smyser said.
It will also be able to offer a tolerance of 250 ppm over an industrial temperature range of -45°C to 85°C, which is similar to a crystal's range of 200 to 250 ppm, depending on the crystal, Smyser said. Again, it almost matches the tolerance of the crystal, and if the company can do that with this design, they will be able to eat into the 32 kHz crystal market, he said.
More rugged, smaller
Ruggedness and smaller size are the two key benefits of the new technology, said Fred Mirow, president of Micro Oscillator. It's a lot more robust mechanically than a crystal. Our devices operate at shock levels where crystals are destroyed."
Unlike 32 kHz crystals that rely on mechanical vibration for frequency generation, the MOI-32 will generate its frequency through an integrated circuit with no mechanical vibration. The device will operate at 3V or 1.8V, and current consumption will be low at 50μA.
MOI plans to start sampling the MOI-32 in second quarter 2005. The company also expects to license the technology. Initial pricing will be around $0.50 in high volume quantities.
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