Top 5 Adaptations in Timing and Synchronization Enabling the IoT | Abracon LLC

Cutting edge, innovative, and exhilarating, the IoT has caught the attention of millions of businesses and consumers around the world. It’s easy to mistake the technologies of the IoT and their profitability as an overnight success; however, it would not be possible without key innovations over decades of work. At the heart of IoT technology is electronic timing. Adaptations in timing and synchronization are being pioneered to address the unique challenges that come with the IoT; these solutions are the unsung heroes that keep our data collection clean and our devices in sync. Below are the top 5 adaptations in timing and synchronization technology enabling the IoT.

1. Quartz crystals with lowest possible plating load capacitance (CL) and equivalent series resistance (ESR).

The most significant trend in IoT is conserving battery power while still boosting overall functionality. Advanced IC subsystems are continuously starved of energy, forcing them to operate with lower power consumption. The direct result of reduced power consumption is a decrease in oscillation gain margin in the Pierce oscillator with industry low gm_critical – a defining metric for strength of the oscillator circuit. gm_critical has been pushed to the lowest limits in a wide variety of IoT optimized chipsets requiring adaptations in quartz crystal technology. One significant adaptation is an ever lower CL and ESR value.

Today’s crystal has evolved to meet the lowest levels of CL combined with the lowest ESR available. Lowering both CL and ESR simultaneously leads to a crystal that is much easier to drive and is capable of being driven using a Pierce oscillator configured with a low gm_critical value. Saving the most amount of power consumption, the leading edge of crystal design is now enabling CL of 3pF or 4pF for a wide variety of frequencies. With such low CL values, designers of energy saving MCUs and RF chipsets can optimize their designs to run on lower power consumption than ever before.

2. Sub 100nA timekeeping current consumption real time clocks (RTC).

Many smart IoT devices are often deployed over a wide perimeter and are expected to operate autonomously for years without routine maintenance. For these devices, power consumption is everything. The last 50nA could mean the difference between sustained operability on a tiny coin cell or sacrificing real estate by installing a larger battery. Previous RTC technology can be up to 10X more power hungry than today’s state of the art. When the RTC in the system is the only heartbeat that remains active in deep sleep, reducing the time keeping current consumption to 22nA translates into a significant extension of battery life. Sub 100nA power consumption RTC’s keep IoT devices running in deep sleep for as long as necessary.

3. Micro-footprint MEMS oscillators.

Size is a considerable design challenge for the IoT and wearable device market. Although MEMS oscillators aren’t the lowest cost solutions and usually less efficient in terms of power consumption, they are the reigning kings of small form factor designs. Available in “chipscale” packages – the size of a single silicon die – MEMS oscillators offer output frequencies from 32.768kHz to >100MHz in miniature footprints as small as 1.5mm x 0.8mm. Micro-footprint MEMS oscillators are the ideal solution for miniaturized IoT devices.

4. Compact advanced TCXOs.

Femtocells, LoRa radios, machine to machine (M2M) devices, GPS tracking and other IoT systems rely heavily on accurate long term timing stability to synchronize their communications and avoid spectral and time division interference. Acquiring a GPS signal from a distant satellite, locking to the signal, and calculating it’s exact coordinates on the surface of the earth requires precise millisecond to millisecond timing. Base transceiver stations (BTS) and other cellular devices, now migrating to 5G, act on precise transmit windows. Blurring these time-based boundaries leads to higher bit error rate, violates standards and specifications and increases unnecessary noise and interference. Today’s compact TCXO devices achieve ±1ppm to ±0.1ppm frequency stability over temperature, ideal for many compact RF and GPS applications that are driving the IoT.

5. < 200-fs ultra-low jitter oscillators.

Without the accessibility of the cloud and the explosive growth in bandwidth capabilities, the IoT would not exist. For instance, increasing bandwidth in servers, storage systems, and network interfaces—both short and long haul—depends directly on the continuous evolution of low noise clocks. Ultra-high speed serial rates that exceed 50 gigabits per second (Gbps) require sub-200 fs (RMS) reference clock phase jitter performance. Higher phase noise would exceed the level required for low bit error rate transmission between SERDES and RF devices. Today’s generation of ultra-low noise & jitter clocks enable the exponential growth in high speed data traffic driving the cloud.

Written by: Juan Conchas, Director of Marketing, Abracon

Original post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-5-adaptations-timing-synchronization-enabling-iot-juan-conchas/

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.

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.

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 LLC celebrates 25 years of business

Austin, TX – Abracon, LLC (Abracon), a leading global manufacturer of passive & electromechanical timing, synchronization, power, connectivity and RF solutions, celebrated it’s 25th anniversary this past week. What once started as an idea in a Southern California garage has transformed into a life-long mission of quality, customer service, and groundbreaking achievements. Abracon, a company steeped in innovation, recently celebrated 25 years in business this past Saturday. It was a time to recollect humble beginnings and reflect on the past with a clear focus for the future; a future of continued growth for this leading global manufacturer.

Mike White, VP of Sales, stated “We’ve built an extremely solid foundation for our company assembling the best team of sales leaders, reps and channel partners in the industry. Coupled with our excellent internal support staff, this team will continue to achieve new levels of success. I’m honored to be associated with such a great group of people.”

One level of success is the fact that Abracon is growing exponentially. With an active customer base of over 25,000, Abracon continues to reach new heights of service and sales. Recently the Abracon office located in Irvine, California moved to Laguna Hills, California. Also, two facilities doubled in size; the office located in China and the Austin, Texas headquarters. These recent additions will assist in maintaining the highest quality of technical support that Abracon’s customers have come to know.

With no signs of slowing down, Abracon continues to impress the industry where they rank among the highest standard of quality. Abracon’s mission will never be complete. There are always new questions to be asked, new challenges to be accomplished, and new ideas to be thought. Here’s to 25 years. Here’s to the constant pursuit of the power of linking together.

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.

Guaranteed Ultra-Low Jitter 5x7mm XO’s Reduce Design Time in High Bandwidth Applications

150fs RMS max jitter for 156.25MHz output

Austin, TX (December 14, 2016)- Abracon Holdings LLC. (Abracon), a leading global manufacturer of passive & electromechanical timing, synchronization, power, connectivity and RF components has released the ASG-ULJ family of oscillators featuring guaranteed ultra-low phase jitter of 100fs RMS and guaranteed maximum phase jitter of 150fs RMS for 156.25MHz output. Specifying maximum phase jitter removes uncertainty from end system hardware design, reduces clock tree troubleshooting time and speeds time to market in high data rate applications such as 10/40/100/400Gb Ethernet, 5G wireless infrastructure and 25Gbps to 56Gbps chip-to-chip or board-to-board interfaces used by FPGAs and advanced processors.

High performance oscillators targeting clocking applications that drive high bandwidth requirements are ideal for servers, PCI Express accelerator add-on cards, wireless backhaul, base stations, switches, routers, automated test equipment and MRI equipment. The explosive need for higher bandwidth requirements are typical within data centers, telecommunications infrastructure, test equipment and high end medical imaging.

“As part of our strategy to constantly deliver value to our customers, this family of leading performance oscillators directly targets the noise requirements of end equipment that supports the explosive growth of wireless and cloud bandwidth requirements. The ASG-ULJ product family is intended to bring advanced yet accessible clocking technology to these applications,” said Abracon Chief Operations Officer Mike Calabria.

The product family supports industry standard 6-pin 5x7mm footprint with LVPECL, LVDS or LVCMOS output format type. Featuring operation from 3.3V or 2.5V with supply current consumption below 40mA for LVCMOS, these high performance XOs consume no more power than standard performing devices. Operation from -40C to +85C with +/-50PPM total stability including aging is standard.

“We have seen first-hand how engineers grapple with the challenges of designing higher bandwidth into their end equipment. Oscillators with ultra-low jitter performance that are guaranteed to conserve their jitter budget reduce design time off the clocking solution and allow designers to focus on taking their core technology to revenue as soon as possible,” commented Juan Conchas, Abracon’s Director of Marketing.

Priced competitively, these oscillators range in frequency from 1 to 705.8MHz. Available frequencies are 156.25MHz, 190MHz, 705.8MHz, 100MHz, 125MHz and 114.285MHz for jitter attenuator applications.

About Abracon Holdings, LLC
Founded in 1992, and headquartered in Irvine, California, 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 tlocks (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 California and Texas and sales offices in Texas, California, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Scotland, and Germany. Abracon’s products are offered through its global distribution network.

Abracon Media Contact
PR@abracon.com

Best Phase Noise to Jitter Calculator from Abracon

Abracon Holdings, LLC. (Abracon), a leading global manufacturer of passive & electromechanical timing, synchronization, power, connectivity and RF components has held the industry’s best kept secret: the simplest web-based calculator for intuitive and easy conversion of phase noise to rms phase jitter.

Oscillators for high performance applications such as communications, test and measurement, high performance computing (HPC) and RF systems typically specify single-sided phase noise but may not specify jitter or may not specify over the appropriate integration band. Additionally, some suppliers such as FPGA manufacturers provide phase noise requirements in the form of masks instead of an integrated output jitter requirement. Calculating phase jitter from phase noise becomes necessary when comparing clocks and oscillators for a given application. Abracon’s Phase Noise to Jitter Calculator was designed as an interactive tool that easily bridges the gap between phase noise and jitter. To use the calculator, enter the carrier frequency, integration start and stop offsets, phase offset and phase noise in dB/Hz for a given number of points. The calculator outputs total integrated phase jitter over a specified integration band. A key feature, the integration band is user defined allowing multiple integration bands of interest to be compared.

“Engineers often work with phase noise masks and phase noise requirements instead of phase jitter. They are forced to calculate jitter using spreadsheets or math CAD software,” explains Syed Raza, Abracon’s VP of Engineering. “Our calculator has enabled engineers to interactively manipulate phase noise points and immediately evaluate the integrated phase jitter.”

“As the supplier of industry leading ultra-low phase noise and ultra-low jitter oscillator products,” says Juan Conchas, Abracon’s Director of Marketing, “we saw the need to quickly translate phase noise into phase jitter enabling a simple solution for our FPGA and other high performance customers.”

The calculator also features pre-loaded phase noise profiles of existing oscillators operating at various carrier frequencies. For instance, selecting the AOCJY7TQ-100.000MHz shows an impressive 20fs of output jitter over 12kHz to 20MHz band and an amazing 4.5fs over 1kHz to 1MHz band. To save and compare results, you can export your phase noise plot and output jitter data into a PDF download.

Abracon’s phase noise to jitter calculator has received popular reviews from students and professionals in the field. The company expects to roll out additional features and updates in 2017.

About Abracon Holdings, LLC

Founded in 1992, and headquartered in Irvine, California, 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 tlocks (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 California and Texas and sales offices in Texas, California, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Scotland, and Germany. Abracon’s products are offered through its global distribution network.

Abracon Media Contact

PR@abracon.com