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.

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 Pierce Analyzer System (PAS) validates quartz crystals in-circuit

PAS-BC1WK/ PAS-BC2WK/ PAS-BC3WK

(Austin, TX) Abracon, LLC (Abracon), a leading global manufacturer of passive & electromechanical timing, synchronization, power, connectivity and RF components announces the availability of an advanced proprietary Pierce analyzer system that validates quartz crystal performance in-circuit. The ability to sustain oscillation for a given quartz crystal oscillator design depends heavily on crystal’s motional parameters, board parasitics and oscillator circuit characteristics. The oscillator circuit is a closed loop system that sustains oscillation at an operating frequency, depending on the crystal plating capacitance (CL), crystal equivalent series resistance (ESR) and Oscillator Amplifier’s gain & phase response. Lower CL and lower ESR at the crystal level, enables the circuit to operate with adequate gain margin and improves the closed-loop stability; ensuring sustained oscillations across all variables, including variation in bias, loading, temperature and over time. Integrated circuits that use external quartz crystals do not always account for these key limiting factors. For instance, estimating or simulating the effect of board parasitics is not always possible. In-circuit testing of the quartz crystal while connected to the oscillator IC and attached to the board reveals design errors and inaccuracies that may cause over-drive, under-drive or center frequency deviations; or even the ability to sustain oscillations.

“Overdrive on the crystal causes long term reliability concerns due to microfractures within the crystal lattice. Under-drive may lead to complete oscillator loop failure, and center frequency errors as high as +/-500 parts per million may be completely out of range of acceptable frequency drift for a given application,” says Syed Raza, VP of Engineering with Abracon. “To conserve power, next generation IC’s must lower the gain in the oscillator loop requiring quartz crystals with much lower ESR at lower plating load. With next generation ultra-low power circuits used in the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables, fabricated in <14 nanometer geometry; it’s no longer safe to assume that the oscillator will operate with sufficient gain margin, especially over temperature and time.

“The quartz crystal oscillator,” says Juan Conchas, Director of Marketing with Abracon, “sets the beat of the entire system. As oscillators are starved of power, failure to operate or operation off-center frequency is much more likely and more challenging to correct. For this reason, the ability to verify the performance of the crystal oscillator loop in-circuit, has become a necessary step in validating the overall system design.”

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-week to 4-weeks.

About Abracon, 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