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When to Use a Clock vs. an Oscillator

Authored on: Apr 29, 2009 by James Wilson

Technical Paper

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A wide range of timing solutions are available, including crystal oscillators (XO), voltage-controlled crystal oscillators (VCXO), and clocks. No one size fits all strategy applies when it comes to component selection.

Picking the right device for a particular application is dependent on a number of factors, including whether or not the clocks must be synchronized to an externally provided reference clock, the system architecture of the processor and high speed serial data transmission ICs, and the frequency and jitter requirements of the end application. In high performance applications, low jitter and low phase noise are critical given that they have a direct impact on the bit-error rate in high speed serial data transmission applications and the signal-to-noise ratio of analog to digital data converters. This white paper describes the key criteria in selecting an XO vs. a VCXO.

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