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Bringing more stability

Bringing more stability to crystal oscillators. By Graham Pitcher.

Temperature is an important factor in determining the stability of crystal oscillators. By compensating for the effects of temperature on the oscillation frequency of the crystal, a temperature compensated crystal oscillator (tcxo) can exhibit up to 50 times better stability over its operating temperature range than a comparable uncompensated oscillator.

For example, where an uncompensated device might offer ±20 ppm stability over the temperature range from –40 to 85°C, a tcxo of otherwise equivalent specifications might be stable to within ±0.4 ppm over the same temperature range.

Adding temperature compensation to an oscillator requires considerable extra circuitry, which leads to a bulkier device with higher power consumption. However, the trend in communication systems design, particularly for mobile equipment, is toward ever smaller component size and power requirement, without sacrificing performance of course.

To reconcile these apparently contradictory requirements, C-MAC MicroTechnology has developed Pluto, an analogue temperature compensation chip for high stability tcxos.

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Graham Pitcher

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