NXP MEMS frequency synthesizer debuts at CES

January 10, 2012 – Marketwire — NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ:NXPI) unveiled an ultra-compact, high-precision micro electro mechanical system (MEMS)-based frequency synthesizer, which challenges quartz-crystal-based devices for the timing market. The die is packaged with IC components in a standard, low-cost plastic package.

NXP’s MEMS technology uses a bare silicon die that is more than 20x smaller than the smallest crystal available, the company reports. The MEMS die does not require any dedicated ceramic or metal-can hermetic package. NXP’s proprietary resonator technology for MEMS-based timing devices features higher frequency stability, lower timing jitter and lower temperature drift compared to other CMOS oscillators.

Also read: MEMS resonators vs. crystal oscillators for IC timing circuits

The first prototype currently released for production enables a highly stable clock reference targeting communications equipment using Gigabit Ethernet, USB, PCI-Express and S-ATA, plus CPU timing, memory and control in consumer electronics devices.  

Key features of NXP MEMS resonator technology include:

  • Higher frequency stability. The resonator exhibits very low motion damping and hence a very high quality factor (Q-factor), allowing for high frequency stability and low close-to-carrier noise levels of the oscillator. Low damping is achieved using a mono-crystalline silicon resonator that is placed under reduced atmospheric pressure in a low-cost, on-wafer processed hermetic cavity. The resonator shows no significant ageing, even after accelerated lifetimes such as HTOL, HAST and TMCL.
  • Lower timing jitter. NXP’s MEMS resonator uses a unique piezo-resistive concept combining strong electro-mechanical coupling with a high resonance frequency. The high oscillation frequency that is made possible with this concept enables very low timing jitter. By using the piezo-resistive concept, the resonator overcomes the classical issue of weak electro-mechanical coupling at high resonance frequency, which is encountered in conventional silicon MEMS resonators.
  • Lower temperature drift. The NXP resonator exhibits 10 times less temperature drift compared to conventional silicon resonators, and is comparable to quartz-crystal tuning forks. The reduction in temperature drift is realized passively, and therefore does not require any additional power that is often needed in conventional temperature drift correction schemes. As a result, the oscillator is able to realize very high frequency stability of only a few parts-per-million (ppm).

NXP is showcasing this technology at CES 2012 in booth CP8 in Las Vegas, along with other products.

NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ:NXPI) provides high-performance mixed signal and standard product solutions that leverage its leading RF, Analog, Power Management, Interface, Security and Digital Processing expertise. Additional information can be found by visiting www.nxp.com.

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