Fari Assaderaghi and SiTime are aiming to disrupt the 70-year-old quartz timing industry by replacing crystals with silicon MEMS. After nearly two decades of following “Moore’s Law for timing improvements,” their time may have finally arrived.
Silicon transistors naturally get most of the attention. However, delicate silicon microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) with movements that are often measured in angstroms are making some noise of their own (metaphorically, because you won’t be able to hear those tiny vibrations!).
By focusing in parallel on the MEMS device and the silicon processing required to build them, SiTime has been able to improve MEMS resonator performance “close to 100,000” times, says Fari Assaderaghi, EVP of Technology and Engineering at SiTime.
SiTime MEMS Oscillator Manufacturing Process Flow. Image used courtesy of SiTime
Assaderaghi went on to state:
“Timing is like an unsung hero that is behind the scenes, but its performance actually limits or enables certain performance characteristics that you see at the end systems.”
Over his career, Fari learned many important lessons that he shares during this thoughtful interview. One of these is to “always go back to first principles.” He expounds on this by stating, “If you don't understand something, don't paper over it. Keep on digging.” He concludes with the warning, “There is no shortcut, and if the fundamental doesn't support it, eventually it's going to come and get you.”
Assaderaghi also learned to focus on your ultimate goal rather than what you think is possible. “If you start with what you want to achieve...you would be surprised that eventually what you thought was not possible, actually it is possible.”
Our Moore’s Lobby host, Daniel Bogndanoff, also discusses with Assaderaghi his fascinating personal journey. Over his career, Assaderaghi has had the pleasure of working alongside luminaries like Chenming Hu, the father of Finfets; Robert Dennard, the inventor of single-transistor DRAM; and Lisa Su, CEO of AMD.
Other highlights from this interview include:
- The unique SiTime culture that Fari credits to the CEO, Rajesh Vashist.
- The importance of failure
- The tuning of silicon’s mechanical properties, not just electrical
That’s a wrap on Season 6 of Moore’s Lobby. We hope you have enjoyed hearing from these amazing guests as much as we have. Please tell us what you think in the comments or share your suggestions and requests for guests and topics for Season 7.
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Meet Fari Assaderaghi
Fari Assaderaghi is currently the Executive Vice President of Technology and Engineering for SiTime. This is his second stint at SiTime after serving as the Senior VP of Engineering and Operations from 2008 to 2012.
Over the years, Fari has worked on a number of leading technologies, including MEMS, high-speed communication, and CMOS SOI. He has held research and management positions at TDK Invensense, NXP, Rambus, and IBM TJ Watson Research Center.
Fari serves on the IEEE North America and Europe Executive Committee and the SRC Executive Committee. He has contributed to more than 100 technical papers, including the best paper at the 2016 ISSCC, and has been issued 72 patents. Fari earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from UC Berkeley.