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100ppm CMOS oscillators challenge crystals

IDT is sampling an all-silicon CMOS oscillator, achieving 100ppm total frequency error across temperature, voltage and other factors.

The technology as acquired by IDT when it bought Mobius in January. The founding CEO of Mobius, Michael McCorquodale, now general manager of IDT’s silicon frequency control business, said the technology has taken 12 years to develop.

In 2005, it was delivering 10,000ppm parts; in 2006, 2000ppm, in 2009, 300ppm and now 100ppm. Next year it will be at 50ppm, said McCorquodale.

The 300ppm and 400ppm parts are now in mass production.

The new 100ppm oscillator, called the IDT3C02, replaces quartz crystal-based oscillators at very thin form factors without the use of any mechanical frequency source or PLL.

It is specifically designed to work with next-generation storage, datacom and connectivity interfaces, such as 1Gb Ethernet, SAS, SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.0) and PCI Express. The product is a low-power, low-jitter replacement to general-purpose quartz crystal oscillators, making it ideal for server and enterprise designs as well as datacom devices with Ethernet ports.

The IDT3C02 generates highly accurate frequencies on chip without relying on a piezo-electric or mechanical resonator.

It’s built on a standard CMOS process, has a programmable architecture and supports various configuration options to suit a broad range of applications.

Perhaps most critical among these options is the frequency of operation, which is programmed by the factory and allows for shorter lead times, including unique or uncommon frequencies, compared with traditional quartz solutions.

In addition, the oscillator is designed with an analogue core, which consumes less than 2.5mA (unloaded, typical), and thus offers a lower power alternative to high frequency quartz- and PLL-based oscillators while delivering best-in-class -140dBc/Hz phase noise at 1MHz offset from carrier.

The device comes in an industry-standard quartz crystal-compatible package of 5×3.2mm, but eliminates the need for hermetically sealed ceramic packaging and instead utilizes low-cost and thin-profile MSL1 plastic IC packaging.

It has a 200nA (typical) low power stand-by mode, and fast start-up time of 100us (typical). The combination of these features makes it ideal for power-sensitive designs and allows for frequent power cycling for further power savings.

Because the device contains no moving elements and generates the frequencies electronically instead of using mechanical or piezo-electronic resonance, the all-silicon, monolithic implementation leads to excellent shock and vibration resistance.

It costs 92 cents in 1,000 unit quantities.

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