Time in Wireless Embedded System

Thomas Schmid

Wireless embedded networks have matured beyond academic research as industry now considers the advantages of using wireless sensors. With this growth, reliability and real-time demands increase, thus timing becomes more and more relevant. In this dissertation, we focus on the development of highly stable, low-power clock systems for wireless embedded systems. Wireless embedded networks, due to their wire-free nature, present one of the most extreme power budget design challenges in the field of electronics. Improvements in timing can reduce the energy required to operate an embedded network. However, the more accurate a time source is, the more power it consumes. To comprehensively address the time and power problems in wireless embedded systems, this dissertation studies the exploitation of dual-crystal clock architectures to combat effects of temperature induced frequency error and high power consumption of high-frequency clocks. Combining these architectures with the inherent communication capabilities of wireless embedded systems, this dissertation proposes two new technologies; (1) a new time synchronization service that automatically calibrates a local clock to changes in temperature; (2) a high-low frequency timer that allows a duty-cycled embedded system to achieve ultra low-power sleep, while keeping fine granularity time resolution offered only by high power, high frequency clocks.