SBIR Phase I: All CMOS Aging-Free High-Accuracy Clock to Replace Multiple Crystal Oscillators

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

SyncRef, Inc.
1512 Highland Circle
Little Elm, TX 75068
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project targets high-performance clocks to be implemented in a standard silicon CMOS process to address ever-growing demand for a higher level of integration resulting in a product smaller feature size and power savings for mobile and other consumer electronics applications by replacing multiple crystal oscillators (XTAL's). For all silicon CMOS (Si-CMOS) oscillators their accuracy is primarily limited by aging that causes frequency to shift every year by a certain amount. Depending on the application total elimination or mitigation of aging technologies will be developed. The project's key innovations are in self-calibration algorithms for aging elimination and analog aging compensation schemes maintaining acceptable complexity. The project will involve research and development using a board-level prototype as well as feasibility study for an IC implementation minimizing the system's cost and its power consumption. The proposed innovation practically eliminates aging for mobile-phones and GPS devices and first time allows a Si-CMOS clock to achieve an accuracy of single ppms, so far reserved to temperature compensated crystal oscillators (TCXO's). It is anticipated that this technology will result in critically needed frequency-accuracy enhancements ranging from a factor of 2 to 10, compared to currently available Si-CMOS oscillators. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project stems from the fact that oscillators are essential components for all consumer electronics and communications as well as for computer and networking markets. In 2007, 10 billion XTAL and other oscillators were manufactured worldwide reaching $3.6 B Total Available Market (TAM). The emerging Si-CMOS and the Micro-machined Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) oscillator segments target portable applications, such as PDAs, camcorders, and MP3 players, where the size and degree of integration is key. The global market for MEMS/Si CMOS oscillators will grow from $5.2 M in 2008 to $217 M in 2013 with an Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR) of 125%. The aging elimination and mitigation technologies developed in this project are applicable in microprocessors, memories and communication systems. Societal benefits include the much-needed increased accuracy, and a timely low-cost solution for Si-CMOS oscillators, providing a cost-effective alternative to XTAL oscillators. The improved clock accuracies and their ability to be integrated on large System-on-Chips (SoC's) will enable developing more compact products with power consumption savings, battery life extension and added functionality to a greater portion of the population at reduced costs and will also serve to foster remote education, telecommuting and e-commerce.