IoT pushes frequency control to new dimensions

Author : Shaun Mellors | Director | AEL Crystals

03 January 2020

For space conscious IoT designs, SiT15xx MEMS oscillators are available in CSP & SMD package options
For space conscious IoT designs, SiT15xx MEMS oscillators are available in CSP & SMD package options

Much has been written about the Internet of Things (IoT), but what does it mean for users & manufacturers of frequency control products, asks Shaun Mellors, Director at AEL Crystals. IoT or Industry 4.0 represents the rapidly expanding concept of universally linked systems communicating together via the internet, usually with little or no human intervention, often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.

This article was originally featured in EPDT's 1H 2020 IoT & Industry 4.0 supplement, included in the January 2020 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

IoT technology is already driving increased home automation (smart thermostats and connected lighting being examples of early adopters), enabled by the convergence of devices and data across the web. Such devices bring a new dimension to frequency control through their use of multiple wireless protocols, including Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave, 6LoWPAN and, more recently, CSRmesh, Sigfox and Thread, for data handling.

The challenge faced by frequency control product manufacturers is meeting the demand for reliable wireless frequency generation, while at the same time increasing miniaturisation, reducing power consumption (for extended battery life) and providing consistent performance over broad operating specifications.

As more and more mainstream applications look to adopt IoT technologies, AEL Crystals has partnered with one of the world’s leading developers and manufacturers of MEMs timing technology, SiTime, to add its MEMs oscillators to its range of frequency control products. Its SiT15xx 32.768 kHz MEMS timing solutions are designed for mobile, IoT and wearable applications, where space and power are critical.

One particular area where the SiTime MEMs devices offer significant advantages for IoT applications is the clocking for monitoring circuitry. The real-time clock (32.768 kHz) is always-on, contributing to extended battery life.

Package option dimensions
Package option dimensions

The silicon-based MEMS oscillators also offer high levels of integration, new packaging options and space savings. Employing modern packaging technologies, they consist of a MEMS resonator die, mounted on top of a high-performance, programmable analogue oscillator IC, which is moulded into a standard low-cost plastic surface-mount device (SMD) package (with footprints compatible with quartz devices).

Devices are available in a 2.0 x 1.2 mm (2012) SMD package for designs that require crystal resonator compatibility. SiT15xx 2012 oscillators have power supply (Vdd) and ground (GND) pins in the centre area, between two large crystal pads.

To support the space demands of ultra-miniaturised applications, they are also available in ultra-small chip-scale packages (CSP). SiT15xx CSP devices reduce footprint by up to 80% compared to existing 2012 SMD crystal packages – and are 60% smaller than the 1610 (1.6 x 1.0 mm) crystal package.

In addition to real time clock (RTC) products, SiTime offers the SiT8021, the industry’s smallest and lowest power MHz oscillator in a 1.5 x 0.8 mm CSP. This µPower oscillator is ideal for battery-operated IoT applications, with low operating power of 270µA (max) and =0.7µA in standby mode. 

MEMS devices also offer other advantages for users, such as sample availability from stock in all frequencies, due to a programmable architecture that allows customisation of features, including frequency and supply voltage. This enables buyers and developers to test and implement new designs more quickly.

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