NXP Demonstrates Ultra-Compact, High-Precision MEMS Frequency Synthesizer

January 09, 2012

Showcases R&D strength in High Performance Mixed Signal technologies at CES 2012

Eindhoven, Netherlands and Las Vegas, Nevada, January 9, 2012 – NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) today unveiled its ultra-compact, high-precision MEMS-based frequency synthesizer, which presents a compelling alternative to quartz crystal-based timing devices. NXP’s MEMS technology replaces a quartz crystal with a bare silicon die that is more than 20 times smaller than the smallest crystal available today. The MEMS die does not require any dedicated, quartz-like, ceramic or metal-can hermetic package. Instead, it can be merged with other ICs into a standardized, low-cost plastic package. The crystal-free frequency synthesizer is one of several advanced High Performance Mixed Signal technologies which NXP is showcasing this week at CES 2012 (booth CP8).

High-Precision MEMS Resonator Technology

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. The first prototype currently released for production enables a highly stable clock reference that is ideal for communications equipment using Gigabit Ethernet, USB, PCI-Express and S-ATA, plus CPU timing, memory and control in consumer electronics devices. Its high level of system integration and very small form factor make it a compact, robust and highly cost-effective alternative to quartz crystal-based timing devices, as described in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sIElkrIWWI

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).

Advanced Technologies Featured at CES

Other cutting-edge technologies which are being presented by the NXP R&D team at CES this week include:

  • Multi-modal smart sensors for use in smart buildings, climate control, automotive comfort and perishable goods monitoring
  • Multi-protocol smart home and building management systems for operating multiple home networks, including wireless monitoring of energy consumption
  • High-efficiency solar energy harvesting for off-grid solar applications and solar battery charging
  • Wireless audio ear buds as an alternative to wired or Bluetooth-based headphones based on magnetic induction radio technology
  • High-performance gigabit communications systems to enable high-speed mobile and computer connectivity, and for applications such as automotive safety radar and high-resolution body scanners

René Penning de Vries, CTO of NXP Semiconductors, said: “We’re very excited to present our groundbreaking MEMS resonator technology as well as other R&D innovations at CES 2012. NXP’s entire culture is built around innovation, and we strive to exceed our customers’ expectations by pushing the envelope with new and potentially game-changing technologies. The solutions we’re showing at CES clearly illustrate NXP’s ongoing commitment to improving our work, home and leisure environments through smarter electronics.”


About NXP Semiconductors

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. These innovations are used in a wide range of automotive, identification, wireless infrastructure, lighting, industrial, mobile, consumer and computing applications. A global semiconductor company with operations in more than 25 countries, NXP posted revenue of $4.4 billion in 2010. Additional information can be found by visiting www.nxp.com.

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