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.”

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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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