Why is Abracon The Heartbeat of the IoT™?

It was the summer of 2012 when a frantic scramble occurred deep within a lab in Silicon Valley. At a time when wearables and other IoT markets were just starting to ramp, a show stopping problem was discovered. With wearables shipments in the low millions for the first time, this problem had to be solved. Panicked, highly skilled engineers on multiple coasts and across continents attempted to solve the problem. The quartz crystal on the MCU would not reliably start.

How can that be? It’s just a quartz device, ancient technology—if it can be called technology. Almost a hundred years of development of quartz manufacturing means that there should be no surprises. What happened? Neither the silicon companies nor the end system hardware designers were prepared for this. The solution rested with the engineers that developed the crystal itself.

With over a hundred million IoT and wearables shipments behind us, the root cause is now well known. In order to conserve power, IC designers reduced the transconductance (gm) of the Pierce oscillator that drives the 32.768kHz quartz crystal. By reducing the gm, the drive of the circuit was inevitably weakened. The Pierce oscillator would eventually experience trouble driving conventionally plated crystals that present a heavier capacitive load. New low power MCU’s can run into trouble driving just a couple extra picoFarads of capacitance. The extra load limits the amount of margin in the design, especially when considering all process corners and full operating temperature range.

In 2012, most 32.768kHz quartz crystals were plated to present a CL of about 9pF. Traditionally, the gm of Pierce oscillator circuits could overcome this plating load and sustain oscillation, but that all changed. MCU’s now required crystals with plating load far lower than ever conceived. The solution was to jump to new plating designs that achieved CL of 6pF—a 33% reduction.

The combination of equivalent series resistance (ESR) and shunt capacitance (C0) also affected the loading that the Pierce oscillators perceived. The ESR and C0 had to be simultaneously lowered along with CL. Considering that ESR and CL are exclusively optimizable parameters in quartz plating design, executing new low loading levels required advanced engineering and world class manufacturing. The strenuous requirements forced many suppliers to avoid the change or risk failure. The wearables industry was about to experience a crunch due to the mismatch between the crystal and the MCU’s Pierce oscillator—it was very clear that existing crystals were not optimized for IoT applications.

Fortunately, engineers with extensive timing applications experience and advanced proprietary tools that accurately measure the operating point of Pierce oscillators addressed this challenge. Abracon’s engineers developed the industry’s first 6pF tuning fork crystals that simultaneously holds a maximum 60kΩ ESR. Problem solved. IoT devices could ship using this newly engineered crystal; a crystal engineered for the IoT.

Realizing that the IoT would incessantly pressure IC designers to continuously reduce power consumption, Abracon’s engineers continued to innovate. Within 2 years, a 32.768kHz tuning fork crystal with 4pF plating load optimized for IoT applications was introduced. The additional 33% reduction in load capacitance is now enabling the next wave of hardware designs powered by energy saving MCUs.

Keeping on pace with market requirements, Abracon announced the recent availability of a broad family of IoT optimized crystals with 3pF tuning forks.

Why is Abracon the Heartbeat of the IoT™? Put simply, Abracon addressed a major challenge when no one else would. The IoT did not start in 2012. In fact, the IoT has existed for decades. Yet, the recent explosion and next level of market dominance requires a new level of power savings design in energy saving MCU’s and RF chipsets. With those designs follows a need for IoT optimized crystal technology. Abracon has been at the forefront of this paradigm shift, triggered in the last 5 years. Coupled with other IoT centric products and technologies such as antennas, compact inductors, 22nA RTCs, and wireless charging coils, Abracon advocates for and executes on the unique challenges of IoT designs.

Pictured above (left to right): Brooke Cushman, Associate Engineer; Chen Li, Product Engineer; Syed Raza, VP of Engineering; Ying Huang, Director of Procurement

About Abracon, LLC
Founded in 1992, and headquartered in Spicewood, Texas, Abracon is a leading global manufacturer of passive and electromechanical timing, synchronization, power, connectivity and RF solutions. Abracon offers a wide selection of quartz timing crystals and oscillators, MEMS oscillators, real time clocks (RTC), Bluetooth modules, ceramic resonators, SAW filters and resonators, power and RF inductors, transformers, circuit protection components and RF antennas and wireless charging coils. The company is ISO9001-2008 certified with design & application engineering resources in Texas and sales offices in Texas, California, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Scotland, Israel, Hungary, UK, and Germany. Abracon’s products are offered through its global distribution network. For more information about Abracon, visit www.abracon.com.

Over Temperature Effects of Gm_critical | A Technical Review

The emergence of the IoT has accelerated the trend towards lower power consumption on many MCU and RF chipsets, pressuring IC designers to wring out every bit of energy savings in their circuits. The consequence, pertaining to the clocking scheme, is usually a weaker oscillator loop amplifier starved of transconductance (gm). The reduced power consumption has the potential to severely affect analog circuits, such as the Pierce oscillator.

The Pierce oscillator driving quartz crystals is one of the most common circuits in the electronics industry. Present in almost every microcontroller, RF chipsets, and many other IC’s, this circuit is the true workhorse of timing in almost every device developed today. As most design engineers employ negative resistance analysis to assess closed-loop dynamics, some may ignore another very significant metric – gm_critical.

As the name implies, gm_critical can be defined as the level of critical value of closed-loop transconductance mandatory to keep the amplifier in linear region, while maintaining sufficient forward gain at the desired phase shift of (n*2π). The closed-loop overall gain margin (GM) is mathematically represented as:

GM = gm / gm_critical ………. (1)

Whereas; gm = oscillator loop amplifier’s intrinsic transconductance (µA/V, or mA/V)
gm_critical = closed-loop transconductance needed to keep the amplifier in linear region with sufficient forward gain at the desired phase shift (µA/V, or mA/V)

It is a well-established industry figure of merit to target GM > 5, with minimum value of 3. With the reduction in the intrinsic gm value, it is paramount to simultaneously reduce the gm_critical needed for sustained oscillations.

It should be noted that gm_critical has significant dependence on the external resonator’s electrical characteristics at the desired resonant frequency and is outlined in equation (2).

gm_critical = 4 * ESR * (2πF)2 * (C0 + CL)2 ………… (2)

From equation (2) it is evident that any significant reduction in gm must be counter-balanced with a reduction in gm_critical to ensure that the closed-loop overall margin (GM) remains the same. For instance, consider the following example:

gm = 2.7 µA/V; GM = 5; then gm_critical = 0.54 µA/V maximum
Now, if the gm is reduced to 1.0 µA/V, to keep GM = 5; the gm_critical = 0.20 µA/V maximum

In equation (2) the three critical parameters that determine the feasibility of this counter-balance are the ESR, C0 and CL of the Quartz Crystal. To achieve lower gm_critical, all three of these parameters must be simultaneously reduced to ensure proper overall gain margin (GM), while the oscillator amplifier’s transconductance gm is lowered.

As the power optimized silicon expands its domination of the electronic industry, reducing the intrinsic gm, the gm_critical metric is the most important criteria to ensure robust oscillator loop performance.

Abracon’s family of newly released Performance Optimized IoT Crystals have been engineered to specifically address the falling transconductance values across the industry and are compatible with industry’s lowest gm_critical designs. The ABM8W/ABM10W/ABM11W/ABM12W MHz series are guaranteed to operate with gm_critical as low as 3.55mA/V for 50MHz operation. The ABS06W/ABS07W 32.768kHz Tuning Fork Crystals are guaranteed to operate with industry lowest gm_critical value of 0.276µA/V @ 25°C in 2.0×1.2×0.6mm and 0.191µA/V @ 25°C in 3.2×1.5×0.9mm packages.

Plots A and B represent over extended temperature oscillation sustainability matrix of these state-of-the art 32.768kHz solutions ideally suited for energy saving RTC applications.

As transconductance (gm) of most Pierce oscillators dive to unprecedented low levels, quartz crystals have to adapt to maintain sustainable oscillations. Abracon has embraced and overcome this challenge by designing and producing, lower plating load capacitance (CL) and lower equivalent series resistance (ESR) Crystals, while simultaneously lowering the (electrode package) capacitance C0.

Meeting the lowest gm_critical requirements demanded by energy saving MCUs and RF chipsets means guaranteed low CL, ESR and C0. Abracon’s specialized design and processing techniques address this paradigm shift and brings both MHz and kHz Performance Optimized Quartz Crystals to the market. Uniquely engineered for the IoT/Wearable/Consumer Electronics market, these crystals are ready for the future of lower power engineering.

Luscombe Rocky Mountain announced new Abracon Manufacturer’s Representative in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

Austin, TX – Abracon, LLC (Abracon), a leading global manufacturer of passive & electromechanical timing, synchronization, power, connectivity, and RF solutions, announces Luscombe Rocky Mountain as the new manufacturer’s representative with coverage in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Luscombe RM has been delivering hardware solutions to the Rockies for over 30 years, offering a focused supplier base, industry expertise, and a customer centric approach. Their addition to our team extends valuable guidance with technical acumen to our mutual customers in the region.

“Luscombe RM shares many common values with Abracon,” said Joan Lanoux, North Central Regional Sales Manager with Abracon. “These include a legacy of exceptional technical knowledge, diligence in providing quality solutions, and vast sales experience. I appreciate the genuine enthusiasm they have towards finding the best technical solutions for their customers.”

This partnership assures optimal in-territory support for existing and new customers, accelerating their time to market using Abracon’s broad product solutions and leading edge technologies.

“Luscombe Rocky Mountain is excited to begin our new partnership with Abracon. We look forward to engaging and supporting our customers with Abracon’s IoT optimized portfolio” said Bryan Fluegel, Partner at Luscombe Rocky Mountain.

About Abracon, LLC
Founded in 1992, and headquartered in Spicewood, Texas, Abracon is a leading global manufacturer of passive and electromechanical timing, synchronization, power, connectivity and RF solutions. Abracon offers a wide selection of quartz timing crystals and oscillators, MEMS oscillators, real time clocks (RTC), Bluetooth modules, ceramic resonators, SAW filters and resonators, power and RF inductors, transformers, circuit protection components and RF antennas and wireless charging coils. The company is ISO9001-2008 certified with design & application engineering resources in Texas and sales offices in Texas, California, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Scotland, Israel, Hungary, UK, and Germany. Abracon’s products are offered through its global distribution network. For more information about Abracon, visit www.abracon.com.

Choose the right quartz crystal for your energy saving MCU with THIS simple test

Next generation MCUs and RF chipsets, commonly used in IoT, wearable, and battery powered applications, have presented a problem frequently ignored by many designers across all industries. Lower power consumption requires next generation crystals to optimize for a weaker gain and drive from the Pierce analyzer. The ability to sustain oscillation for a given quartz crystal oscillator design depends heavily on the crystal’s motional parameters, board parasitics, and oscillator circuit characteristics. Yet, as MCUs are upgraded to lower power models, their crystal counterparts have stayed the same. The Pierce oscillator circuit, a closed loop system most commonly integrated into low power ICs, sustains oscillation at an operating point, depending on the crystal plating capacitance (CL), crystal equivalent series resistance (ESR), and oscillator amplifier’s gain and phase response associated with the oscillator’s transconductance (gm). But, how do you know if your crystal’s parameters match your system?

Abracon’s Pierce analyzer system (PAS) was designed by our engineers to help you make the right choice for your industry leading designs. The PAS test validates quartz crystal performance in-circuit and simultaneously measures the crystal, crystal oscillator, and printed circuit board parasitics. Testing in-system accounts for all variables and enables ideal matching of crystal parameters to the board and oscillator in the MCU or RF chipset. This is especially critical for applications using next generation, energy saving technologies requiring optimal gm factors.

Lower CL and lower ESR increase operating gain margin of the loop, ensuring sustained oscillations across all variables including variation in bias, loading, temperature, and over time. Gm_critical is the critical transconductance value that a crystal must achieve in order to remain in the safe zone of loop operation. Crystals that do not meet gm_critical are not well matched to the Pierce oscillator and may cause long term reliability issues associated with startup. Since lower power consumption decreases gm and gm_crictical for a given Pierce oscillator, energy saving designs deployed in IoT and wearables applications are the most at risk of failure. Conducting a PAS test reduces risk and improves the reliability of your system.

“Semiconductor technology strives to wring all the power consumption out of the latest generation of MCUs and RF chipsets,” commented Syed Raza, VP of Engineering with Abracon “the on-chip Pierce oscillator is starved of much needed gain negatively impacting the gm_critical metric. The PAS test is the surest way to diagnose preventable problems.”

“As The Heartbeat of the IoT™, we strive to provide customers with as many tools and services as possible that will take their designs to the next low power plateau. The PAS test service enables validation of a critical subsystem in the design given that nothing will operate if the oscillator fails to run.” commented Juan Conchas, Director of Marketing with Abracon.

The service provides a comprehensive report outlining the functional parameters of the oscillator circuit and recommends changes when necessary. This service is conducted by Abracon and can be ordered through any franchised distributor, with multiple turn-around times from 2-weeks to 4-weeks.

Learn more about the Pierce Oscillator here.
Find more information on the PAS test, here.

Check inventory for the PAS here: PAS-BC1WK/ PAS-BC2WK/ PAS-BC3WK

About Abracon, LLC
Founded in 1992, and headquartered in Spicewood, Texas, Abracon is a leading global manufacturer of passive and electromechanical timing, synchronization, power, connectivity and RF solutions. Abracon offers a wide selection of quartz timing crystals and oscillators, MEMS oscillators, real time clocks (RTC), Bluetooth modules, ceramic resonators, SAW filters and resonators, power and RF inductors, transformers, circuit protection components and RF antennas and wireless charging coils. The company is ISO9001-2008 certified with design & application engineering resources in Texas and sales offices in Texas, California, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Scotland, Israel, Hungary, UK, and Germany. Abracon’s products are offered through its global distribution network. For more information about Abracon, visit www.abracon.com.

Abracon and TTI Inc Announce Asia Partnership

Austin, TX – Abracon, LLC (Abracon), a leading global manufacturer of passive & electromechanical timing, synchronization, power, connectivity and RF solutions, announces Asia partnership with TTI, Inc., the leading authorized distributor of interconnect, passive, electromechanical and discrete components. The Asia partnership is an extension of TTI and Abracon’s existing global distribution agreement which was announced by both companies in April 2017.

Michael Calabria, Abracon’s CEO said, “With mutual focus on IP&E and discrete components, the two companies are leaders in the industry and a natural fit. As many users of electronics components rely on the supply chain and go-to-market benefits provided by distributors, Abracon is excited to partner with TTI to support its highly valued customers.”

Anthony Chan, President of TTI Asia Pacific, commented on the addition of Abracon to TTI Asia’s specialized line card, “I am pleased to welcome Abracon to be a TTI business partner in Asia. Abracon offers a wide selection of latest technologies in frequency control, timing and synchronization. I am confident that our partnership in Asia will create additional value to our customers.”

About TTI
TTI, Inc. a Berkshire Hathaway company, is an authorized, specialty distributor of interconnect, passive and electromechanical (IP&E) components and the distributor of choice for industrial and consumer electronics manufacturers worldwide. Broader and deeper inventory, leading-edge products and custom supply chain solutions have established TTI as the leading specialist in electronic component distribution. Globally, the company maintains 1.2 million cubic feet of dedicated warehouse space containing over 850,000 component part numbers. Along with its subsidiaries, Mouser Electronics and Sager Electronics, TTI employs more than 4,700 employees and is represented in over 100 locations throughout North America, Europe and Asia. For more information about TTI, visit www.ttiinc.com.

About Abracon, LLC
Founded in 1992, and headquartered in Spicewood, Texas, Abracon is a leading global manufacturer of passive and electromechanical timing, synchronization, power, connectivity and RF solutions. Abracon offers a wide selection of quartz timing crystals and oscillators, MEMS oscillators, real time clocks (RTC), Bluetooth modules, ceramic resonators, SAW filters and resonators, power and RF inductors, transformers, circuit protection components and RF antennas and wireless charging coils. The company is ISO9001-2008 certified with design & application engineering resources in Texas and sales offices in Texas, California, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Scotland, Israel, Hungary, UK, and Germany. Abracon’s products are offered through its global distribution network. For more information about Abracon, visit www.abracon.com.

Ultra High Frequency RFID Tag Solutions Guide Released

(Austin, TX) Abracon, LLC (Abracon), a leading global manufacturer of passive & electromechanical timing, synchronization, power, connectivity and RF components announces the RFID solutions guide intended for customers involved in asset tracking and asset management of high value goods such as heavy machinery, servers/cloud computers, vehicles, livestock, agriculture, industrial and oil/gas exploration tools. The solutions guide offers information regarding the various uses for RFID tags and helps select tags based on range and size.

Abracon tags integrate Alien H3 IC and high performance antennas that enables support for ISO 18000-6C/EPC Class1 Gen2. The family offers multiple form factors with small space saving 5x5mm footprint and up to 9.0meters long read range at 25x25mm. Two operating temperature ranges of -30℃ to 85℃ and -40℃ to 85℃ are available for wide temperature industrial applications. Additionally, Abracon offers antennas for customers that prefer to use their own RFID IC.

VIEW UHF RFID SOLUTIONS GUIDE

“Asset tracking and asset management is more important than ever,” comments Juan Conchas, Director of Marketing for Abracon. “For this reason, many of our customer base are integrating passive UHF tags into their product, making them RFID ready.”

All of Abracon’s RFID tags are in stock and available through franchised distributors. View the solutions guide here: http://abracon.com/Support/rfid-solutions-guide.pdf

About Abracon, LLC
Founded in 1992, and headquartered in Spicewood, Texas, Abracon is a leading global manufacturer of passive and electromechanical timing, synchronization, power, connectivity and RF solutions. Abracon offers a wide selection of quartz timing crystals and oscillators, MEMS oscillators, real time clocks (RTC), Bluetooth modules, ceramic resonators, SAW filters and resonators, power and RF inductors, transformers, circuit protection components and RF antennas and wireless charging coils. The company is ISO9001-2008 certified with design & application engineering resources in Texas and sales offices in Texas, California, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Scotland, Israel, Hungary, UK, and Germany. Abracon’s products are offered through its global distribution network.

Antenna Solutions Guide available by Abracon

Abracon, LLC. (Abracon), a leading global manufacturer of frequency control, signal conditioning, clocking and magnetic components, announces availability of the Antenna Solutions Guide designed to enable quick selection of devices available within Abracon’s broad antenna offering supporting IoT, industrial and commercial RF protocols. Chip, patch, multi-band and external antennas addressing advanced protocols such as Cellular, LTE, GSM, WiFi, WLAN, Zigbee, Bluetooth, BLE, GPS, GLONASS and BEIDOU in a broad range of markets including connected lighting, wearables, industrial process control, home automation, geolocation, asset tracking, synchronization, machine to machine (M2M), networking and communications.

“The IoT has brought with it the next connectivity revolution,” says Juan Conchas, Director of Marketing with Abracon. “Abracon is committed to support antenna device solutions and optimization services for a wide range of fast growing end applications with stringent time-to-market requirements.”

“Considering there is no free lunch with respect to antenna gain, sensitivity and performance,” says Dean Clark, Senior Technical Manager with Abracon, “Abracon’s wide offering allows end users to select the optimal antenna performance and form factor. Additionally, obtaining the best efficiency, gain and bandwidth often requires tuning antennas to each individual design. Abracon’s antenna optimization service is a resource that bridges this gap for the customer.”

The latest Antenna Solutions Guide is available here: http://abracon.com/Support/antenna-solutions-guide.pdf

All antennas and antenna optimization services with part number ABAOS-5WK are available from any of Abracon’s franchised distributors.

About Abracon, LLC
Abracon is a global manufacturer of frequency control, signal conditioning, clock distribution and magnetic components. Abracon offers a wide selection of Quartz Crystals, Crystal and MEMS Oscillators, Real Time Clocks, Antennas, Bluetooth Modules, Ceramic Resonators, SAW Filters, SAW Resonators, Inductors, Transformers, RFID Tags and RJ45 Jacks. The company is ISO9001-2008 certified with design, warehouse and applications engineering resources in Texas and offices in California, China, UK and Germany. Abracon’s products are offered through its global distribution network.

Advanced MHz MEMS solutions guide available from Abracon

Abracon, LLC. (Abracon), a leading global manufacturer of frequency control, signal conditioning, clocking and magnetic components, announces availability of the Advanced MEMS Timing Solutions Guide developed to assist customers in their selection of advanced oscillator products using microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS). Abracon’s timing products using MEMS technology offer inherent benefits over quartz crystals including miniaturization, resistance to shock and vibration and extended operating temperature range while maintaining good frequency stability. Ideal for applications requiring a compact footprint, extended durability and wide temperature operation such as wearables, IoT, industrial, transportation, communications, industrial computing, networking and lighting.

The solutions guide showcases Abracon’s low power ASTMLP series of MEMS oscillators drawing less than 5mA for power sensitive applications. Extended temperature applications such as industrial can use the ASTMHT series optimized for -55C to +125C operating range. The noise and jitter optimized ASTMUP series supports communications protocols such as SATA, SAS, Fibre Channel, Passive Optical Networks, EPON, 10G-EPON, GPON, 10G-PON, Ethernet, 1G, 10GBASE-T/KR/LR/SR, FCoE, and PCI Express.

“The market for MEMS technology has grown exponentially in the last 3 years,” says Juan Conchas, Director of Marketing for Abracon. “MEMS is now a significant part of the clock and timing ecosystem and Abracon has become one of the recognized market leaders.”

“Abracon’s MEMS offering is comprehensive, taking advantage of all the benefits of the technology,” comments Syed Raza. “Each product line is optimized for small size, low power or low phase jitter, meeting applications requirements in a diversity of markets.”

Abracon MEMS oscillators are available in standard footprints from 5.0×7.0mm to 2.0×1.6mm depending on configuration. All devices are available through any of Abracon’s franchised distributors. View the solutions guide here.

About Abracon, LLC
Abracon is a global manufacturer of frequency control, signal conditioning, clock distribution and magnetic components. Abracon offers a wide selection of Quartz Crystals, Crystal and MEMS Oscillators, Real Time Clocks, Antennas, Bluetooth Modules, Ceramic Resonators, SAW Filters, SAW Resonators, Inductors, Transformers, RFID Tags and RJ45 Jacks. The company is ISO9001-2008 certified with design, warehouse and applications engineering resources in Texas and offices in California, China, UK and Germany. Abracon’s products are offered through its global distribution network.