The timing device market is dominated by quartz crystal oscillator technology. As a result, vendors of solutions based on silicon and micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) face an uphill battle. Most of the largest crystal oscillator vendors — Epson Toyocom, NDK, Kyocera, and KDS — are Asia-Pacific based companies. These companies control the market by mass-producing low-cost crystal oscillators.
According to ABI Research, MEMS and silicon timing device vendors do enjoy certain advantages if they target their efforts wisely. The MEMS solution, like the computer and wireless IC industries, is based on a silicon CMOS chip. The benefits of a silicon CMOS chip are huge because the electronics industry has 30 years of established procedures, processes and understanding of the silicon solution, which creates an opportunity for these companies.
In addition, silicon solutions are less expensive and MEMS technologies are extremely rugged, and well-suited to low-jitter applications such as military and aerospace equipment where resistance to shock and vibration are at a premium.