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Sand9 Rolling Out MEMS Timing Solutions

About a year ago Sand9 was a startup just coming out of stealth mode.  Little was known other than it had innovative MEMS timing technology.  The company is starting to roll out product to market.  On September 3, 2013 Sand9 announced the TM061 and TM361 touted as the “First precision MEMS Timing products for the Internet of Things and Mobile.”  On November 18, 2013 the company announced the TM651 to meet the rigorous requirements for precision timing in communications infrastructure, industrial and military applications.

Sand9 is using a platform strategy for its product lines.  The two platforms are MR (MEMS Resonator) and TSMR(Temperature Sensing MEMS Resonator).  The first device offered for MR is the TM061.  The first one for TSMR is the TM361.

Sand9 implements a piezoelectric MEMS technology.  Traditional MEMS use electrostatic technology which has issues with performance and low power.  According to the company, its piezoelectric resonator architecture has higher performance and lower power.  The temperature detection and compensation in the TSMR is achieved by sandwiching a layer of Si (silicon) between two layers of SiO2 (silicon dioxide).  As the temperature increases SiO2 stiffens while Si softens.  The two layers compensate each other.

Sand9 has IP for its own proprietary process.  This is portable to any CMOS foundry.  Global Foundries is the foundry partner for the MEMS resonator.  IBM manufactures the ASIC.  The company has several technology partners: Analog Devices, CSR, Intel and Ericsson.

Sand9 uses WLCSP packaging.  The company touts the advantages this offers: excellent thermal coupling, shock and vibration immunity and a small footprint.  There is a silicon cap bonded hermetically to the top of the resonator.  The TM061 and TM361 have no additional circuitry in the silicon cap. 

The TM061 and TM361 are currently sampling.  The TM061 is scheduled for production 3Q 2014 and the TM361 4Q 2014.

The recently announced TM651 is the first product based on Snad9’s Temperature Compensated MEMS Oscillator (TCMO™) platform.  The TM651 is designed for the higher accuracy and precision required for communications infrastructure, industrial and military applications.  Analog Devices Inc. is a major investor and has stated that the company “is committed to exploring technologies that may improve the experience of our customers.”

According to Sand9, OEMs are partnering with semiconductor companies to deliver stand alone devices.  In the next phase, the MEMS timing solution will be co-packaged with a semiconductor device in a multi-chip package.

Sand9’s TCMO has a high level of integration.  The WLCSP has a silicon cap with an oscillator circuit.  Through Silicon Vias (TSVs) connect to the resonator.

The TM651 is available in a 3.2 mm x 2.5 mm x 1.2 mm LGA package.  It is currently sampling to lead customers, and will be ramping to mass production in Q1 2014.

Semico Spin

Sand9 is moving quickly out of startup mode and into production.  The company is addressing two ends of the timing spectrum.  The MEMS timing market is very small at this point in time, less than 1% of the total timing market.  Semico is projecting exponential growth for the MEMS timing market.  The recent Semico report, “MEMS Oscillators: The Momentum is Building”, examines the market and trends for MEMS oscillators in detail.  Semico projects MEMS oscillator CAGR (’12 to ’17) of 65.2% on revenues and 76.5% on units.  Sand9 is entering the MEMS timing market just as it is poised to take off.

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