MUNICH (Electronica 2010) -- Broadening its product offering and furthering its expansion into the consumer electronics market, VTI Technologies announced today at Electronica 2010 in Munich its entrance into the MEMS timing device market.

VTI’s timing device products will leverage VTI’s proprietary 3D MEMS and packaging technology. VTI currently uses its Chip-on-MEMS (CoM) technology to produce Chip Scale Packages (CSP) for its consumer based sensors. This same technology is being utilized for oscillators in a reverse configuration of MEMS-on-Chip (MoC).

Quartz crystal – the most common piezoelectric resonator used in timing devices – is facing clear difficulties in overcoming the challenges of miniaturization in the most advanced consumer devices. Oscillation stability and frequency sensitivity are negatively impacted as the size of the quartz resonator shrinks, which is partially due to the increased crystal impedances of these smaller resonators.

Small quartz resonators are also more susceptible to shock induced frequency deviations as smaller packages leave less tolerance for mechanical vibration.

Silicon MEMS resonators are a viable alternative to quartz crystals. Tiny resonators can be etched in silicon, offering a product that is miniature in size and low cost given the batch semiconductor manufacturing processes on large (8 inch) wafers. In addition, MEMS resonators are very robust to shock and vibration.

The MEMS resonator technology that is currently available on the market suffers from poor initial accuracy and a wide temperature drift. A typical MEMS resonator can be off by 10,000ppm from its target frequency. On top of this, a MEMS resonator has drift over temperature of approximately 30ppm per degree Celsius, or an additional 3000ppm over a standard temperature range of -20°C to +70°C.

With this type of resonator technology, complex ASICs have to be designed to compensate for the frequency inaccuracies, adding size, cost, power and noise. The end result is an oscillator that offers minimal cost benefits and no competitive differentiation.

VTI’s technology overcomes these common hurdles and offers performance that is more comparable to traditional quartz based oscillators. VTI will launch its first timing device product in early 2011.