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Timing modules for telecommunications

A EU-commission funded project Go4Time aims to improve and miniaturise timing modules used e.g. in cellular phones. The goal is to combine an integrated circuit together with multiple MEMS resonators hermetically in a single package. Smaller size and lower power consumption will help to meet the green electronic challenge in consumer products.

The timing devices used in telecommunications relied for decades for quartz based technology only. Recent advances in packaging of MEMS resonators and in temperature compensation schemes have led to the introduction of MEMS-based timing devices.

Go4Time will target the realization of a generic miniature timing module relying on the combination of an integrated circuit together with multiple MEMS resonators assembled hermetically in a single package. One of the main system features is a temperature-compensated low-power 32kHz real time clock mode with a power consumption below 1μW and a very tight frequency stability (better than ±2ppm) over an industrial temperature range. By combining this with a higher frequency resonator and by using PLL techniques, a reconfigurable low-jitter clock of high spectral purity can be generated at any frequency below 200MHz on-demand. This low-jitter clock can then serve as a reference frequency for communication systems such as Bluetooth, GSM, wireless sensor networks, multi standards, software-defined and cognitive radios.

The project’s achievements will strengthen the global competitiveness of European industries in microsystems and smart miniaturised systems in the 3B€ timing market. The proposed power-aware scheme will help meet the green electronic challenge in consumer products and strengthen the competitiveness of the associated industries by providing a generic timing solution with a much reduced bill of materials.

In addition to VTT, four other European research institutes are involved in the three-year pan-European Go4Time project funded by the EU: CSEM (Switzerland), Fraunhofer Institut (Germany), Politecnico di Milano (Italy), and Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands). ST Microelectronics (Italy) and Micro Crystal (Switzerland) also participate in the project as industry partners.

Whereas VTT’s focus is on research, VTT Memsfab ltd offers customized micro- and nanoelectronics manufacturing services. The developed prototype is easy to take into production at VTT Memfabs Ltd, as the company uses the same equipment as VTT and technology does not need to be transferred to another plant. The transfer of technology to a larger plant may only become topical when the product has been successfully launched and the production runs reach thousands of silicon wafers (millions of chips).


Additional information

Tommi Suni
Senior Scientist
+358 20 722 6696

Additional information

Tommi Suni
Senior Scientist
+358 20 722 6696