SiTime shrinks a chip for 5G and defense work with new tech

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) - SiTime on Tuesday said it has shrunk a new chip for use in 5G networks and military electronics to about nine times smaller than existing products on the market.

SiTime makes what are known as timing devices, one of the oldest and most ubiquitous parts of all computing systems. Timing devices work a bit like a drummer in a band, providing a steady beat that keeps all the other elements of the system, such as networking and memory chips, working in sync.

For decades, timing devices have worked the straightforward principle of pumping electricity through a quartz crystal, causing it to vibrate at predictable frequency that provides a steady beat, similar to a quartz wristwatch.

SiTime takes a different approach, using a technology called a micro-electromechanical system that is manufactured more like a computer chip. That has helped it shrink the size of timing devices, prompting customers such as to use SiTime chips in its Dojo supercomputer system.

SiTime's new chips, which it calls its Epoch Platform, are made to be faster and more resistant to big swings in temperature up to 95 degrees Celsius (203 degrees Fahrenheit) and vibrations than quartz devices, which the company believes will make them useful for 5G equipment that sits outdoors or in defense electronics that have to pass ruggedness tests.

"The environmental conditions are everything" in such markets, Rajesh Vashist, chief executive of SiTime, told Reuters in an interview.

SiTime said the chips will enter mass production next year.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler)