Single-chip clock IC targets wireless base stations

Posted By : Nat Bowers
Single-chip clock IC targets wireless base stations

The industry’s most highly integrated clock IC for wireless infrastructure applications, including small cell and macro cell base stations, has been introduced by Silicon Labs. The Si5380 is also claimed to be the industry’s first clock IC capable of replacing a low phase noise integer-N clock, VCXO, discrete loop filters and voltage regulator components with one single-chip device.

The Si5380 clock provides comparable phase noise performance to discrete conventional solutions while delivering breakthrough advancements in solution footprint, BOM cost, power consumption, performance and ease of use.

According to a recent Cisco study, global mobile data traffic will increase nearly 10 times between 2014 and 2019, driven by video streaming services and the widespread adoption of IoT-connected devices. While base station suppliers are tasked with developing new 4G/LTE equipment that increases network capacity and coverage, it is becoming an increasingly difficult design challenge for small cells because they are often deployed in space-constrained, low-power outdoor locations in congested urban environments.

The Si5380 clock leverages Silicon Labs’ latest 4th gen DSPLL technology to provide a purpose-built solution optimised for next-gen small cells and macro cell remote radio head designs. DSPLL technology’s innovative dual-loop mixed-signal architecture integrates a single high-performance 15GHz analogue voltage-controlled oscillator within a digital PLL architecture that eliminates the need for discrete loop filters and LDO regulators. The resulting clock solution provides an optimal combination of ultra-low phase noise clock synthesis with best-in-class PLL integration.

The Si5380 clock has a 66% smaller PCB footprint and 30% lower power consumption than competing VCXO-based clock IC solutions. Power-efficient timing components are especially important for today’s small cells, which have limited power budgets and often are powered using PoE technology. Given that the DSPLL integrates all PLL and power supply regulation elements on-chip, the Si5380 device delivers high board-level noise immunity, integrated power supply noise rejection and consistent, repeatable phase noise performance across temperature.

While VCXO-based clock solutions often suffer from degraded spurious performance when subjected to vibration, the Si5380 device’s integrated DSPLL technology provides excellent spurious response regardless of the system environment. Furthermore, the Si5380 clock guarantees low phase noise operation when locked to a high jitter input clock, ensuring that data converter performance is not degraded by external effects. The Si5380 generates 4G/LTE frequencies up to 1.47456GHz and provides up to 12 independently configurable clocks, which can be used for clocking JESD204B-compliant data converters, FPGAs and other logic devices.

James Wilson, Marketing Director, Timing Products, Silicon Labs, commented: “The Si5380 clock is the industry’s most integrated timing solution available for macro and small cell base stations requiring compact PCB footprints, low power consumption, and robust, carrier-grade phase noise performance across a wide range of environmental conditions. The combination of Silicon Labs’ highly integrated DSPLL-based clock architecture and easy-to-use ClockBuilder Pro software greatly simplifies the challenges of clock synthesis and jitter attenuation for today’s heterogeneous wireless networks.”

To simplify clock tree design for wireless base stations, Silicon Labs’ ClockBuilder Pro software enables designers to generate programmable Si5380 clock configurations in less than five minutes, minimising software development overhead. Instead of waiting months for custom clock devices, designers simply upload their custom configurations to Silicon Labs through ClockBuilder Pro. Factory pre-programmed Si5380 clock samples ship in two weeks, accelerating the overall product development process with the industry’s shortest custom sample lead times.

Factory pre-programmed samples and production quantities of the Si5380 clock are available now. Product pricing in 10,000-unit quantities begins at less than $6. The Si5380-EVB evaluation board, available now for $399 (MSRP), enables developers to move quickly from device configuration to detailed performance evaluation. ClockBuilder Pro software is available from Silicon Labs’ website at no charge.

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