September 5, 2012 - The recent partnership between Vectron International, Knowles Electronics, and SiTime could create a new force in the emerging market for MEMS timing devices, notes Semico Research.
Weeks ago Vectron and Knowles announced a partnership with SiTime to grow MEMS timing components in the frequency control products market. Under the deal, SiTime’s products will be rebranded by Vectron to its customers. Both Vectron, a decades-long leader in timing (but without a MEMS product) and Knowles (a leader in MEMS microphones) are part of Dover Corp. SiTime is a longtime leader in MEMS oscillators, notes Tony Massimini, Semico’s chief of technology.
Also consider: sales of timing devices totaled $6.3B in 2011, but MEMS oscillators accounted for less than 1% of that. Semico projects a sparkling ~86% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for both MEMS oscillator sales and unit shipments over the next five years (2011-2016), mostly thanks to demand from smartphones. Put it all together and it looks like a big market opportunity.
MEMS oscillators can be made with semiconductor technology, and thus their production can be scaled up to lower costs and to shrink the technology — both of which are advantages vs. traditional quartz-based devices, Semico explains. MEMS oscillators are also programmable, so vendors can offer faster response times and improved inventory management.
Adding the name-recognition and reputation of Knowles and Vectron will add credibility to the message of educating customers about MEMS oscillators, notes Massimini. (There’s also a barrier to entry in that it takes four years or more to develop and bring to market one’s own MEMS oscillator, so partnerships or M&A makes sense.)
Semico’s recent report, "The time has come for MEMS oscillators," examines key end-use markets for the devices, key and emerging players, and projections for units and sales.