IOT: shaping the future of frequency control

ael-2As the internet of things finds its way into mainstream applications, the hunt is on for ever smaller frequency control products. FCP manufacturers are keen to oblige, as AEL Crystals explains.

The internet of things is rapidly expanding. In fact, this concept of universally linked systems communicating together via the internet has been branded the third industrial revolution after mechanisation and computing.

Its implications have already seen a massive increase in home automation, with smart thermostats and connected lighting being early adopters, driven by the convergence of people, devices and data across the web. New products are using Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, 6LowPAN and more recently the CSR Mesh / Bluetooth low energy (BTLE), Sigfox and Thread protocols for data handling.

Driving miniaturisation
For frequency control product manufacturers, the challenge lies in meeting the demand for reliable wireless frequency generation while also increasing miniaturisation, reducing power, for long battery life, and providing consistent performance over a broad operating specification.

As more mainstream applications look to adopt this technology, FCP vendor, AEL Crystals, has released a range of products in response to these challenges. Options include, for example, a 1.6 by 1.0mm watch crystal with equivalent series resistance of 60kohm and 1.6 by a 1.2mm 32.768Hz oscillator.

MEMs advantages
In order to enhance this range further, AEL Crystals has partnered with developer and manufacturer of microelectromechanical timing technology, SiTime, to add MEMs oscillators to its portfolio.

Silicon based MEMS oscillators employ modern packaging technologies. They consist of a MEMS resonator die mounted on top of a programmable analogue oscillator integrated circuit. This is moulded into a standard plastic surface mount package with footprints compatible with quartz devices. To support the space requirements of ultra-small applications, SiTime MEMS oscillators are available in ultra-small chip-scale packages. Finally, their programmable architecture allows customisation of features such as frequency and supply voltage.

RTC benefits
One particular area where SiTime MEMs devices can offer significant advantages is in the clocking for monitoring circuitry, in which the real-time clock is always on. This is a major factor in battery life for many IOT applications.

Designed for mobile, IoT and wearable applications where space and power are critical, SiT15xx 32.768kHz MEMS timing devices are available in a 2.0 by 1.2mm surface mount package for designs that require crystal resonator compatibility. For even greater space savings, the same device is available in a CSP, said to reduce the footprint by up to 80 per cent compared to existing 2012 SMD crystal packages.

Battery savings
In addition to its real time clock products, SiTime offers MHz oscillators in a 1.5 by 0.8mm chip scale package. This µpower oscillator boasts both low power in operation at 270µA maximum and a draw in standby mode of less than 0.7µA, again making them ideal for battery driven applications.

Thanks to their programmable nature, MEMS devices offer sample availability from stock in all frequencies, which allows buyers and developers to test and implement new designs quickly.

With a view to helping those in this sector complete their designs, AEL Crystals also supplies ultra-miniature temperature compensated crystal oscillators, antenna and filter devices. As an experienced vendor of frequency control products, it carries many wireless chipset product approvals and boasts millions of crystals already in use in wireless technology products.