MEMS oscillators benefit fast-changing, mobile, price-conscious applications

June 14, 2012 — Micro electro mechanical system (MEMS) oscillators are poised for steep growth in the next few years, says Semico. MEMS represented only 1.4% of all oscillator and clock generator circuits in 2011, but by the end of 2012, Semico expects to see at least a dozen vendors.

Semico projects the 2011-2016 CAGR for MEMS oscillators will be 85.6%, approaching $1.2 billion by 2016, with the market taking off in 2013. Established companies will leverage existing applications those with innovative designs will target key high-growth markets.

Also read: MEMS oscillators occupy 1% of timing market, but lure more makers

A MEMS oscillator may be secondary to system designers, who look more to microprocessors and SoCs, but the timing circuit is an important enabling technology that ties together the entire system design. Semico foresees the main driving markets for MEMS oscillators will be portable applications such as smart phones, tablets and ultrabooks. These are fast-changing designs that can benefit from the advantages offered by MEMS oscillators: lower cost, lower power consumption, and smaller thinner packages.

There are currently over 50 crystal oscillator suppliers worldwide, and some will pursue a MEMS-based product line. More MEMS oscillator vendors will emerge over the next few years, with some raising funds (like Sand9), and others being acquired (like VTI). A MEMS oscillator vendor needs to deliver on reliability, performance, cost and the right package for an application while marketing their product aggressively to overcome the entrenched position of quartz oscillators.

Semico is a semiconductor marketing & consulting research company. For more information, visit

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