On Monday, February 26, Discera, Inc., a San Jose, CA company announced the availability of its MOS1 MEMS-based oscillator series, which is being sampled now with volume production expected this summer. These oscillators have a MEMS resonator and an ASIC embedded within a conventional QFN package or ceramic package. They can be used as a direct replacement for quartz crystal oscillators, which are the key timing element in virtually all electronic systems. There are thousands of applications, sometimes with volumes in the millions. The MEMS-based oscillators have many advantages, when compared to quartz crystal oscillators:
The first advantage is lower cost. The MEMS-based oscillators will enter the market at less than half the cost of crystal oscillators, and cost reductions are on their roadmap. Profit margins for crystal oscillators are very thin, and there is no foreseeable way to significantly reduce costs or margins.
A second advantage is shorter lead times.
Discera’s MEMS-based timing devices are essentially drop-in oscillator replacements in DVD players, gaming consoles, set top boxes, camcorders, PDAs, cameras and hundreds of other consumer applications.
MEMS-based oscillators are a disruptive technology. Quartz crystal oscillator technology has remained virtually unchanged for more than fifty years. All the cost has been squeezed out, and there are no further improvements on the horizon. The MEMS-based oscillators are a less expensive, higher-performance solution. What’s not to like?