By Barbara G. Goode, Small Times staff
April 30, 2008 -- Discera, Inc., a runner up in Small Times 2007 Best of Small Tech Awards (Application Product of the Year category), says its Pure Silicon brand MEMS resonators are now in stock and ready for shipment to electronics manufacturers in more than 140 countries -- through Digi-Key Corporation, a leading electronics distributor with established presence among design engineers. The wide availability of Discera's MEMS-based products, which replace traditional quartz crystal devices, is a major milestone that the MEMS development company was able to achieve through its relationship with OEM partner Abracon.
Discera established that relationship -- and secured $17.5 million in funding -- last year. But its main focus in 2007 was preparation for volume production: establishing relationships with vendors, streamlining processes, managing manufacturing costs and optimization; "basically, moving from productization to commercialization," said Discera VP of marketing Venkat Bahl in an interview with Small Times. At this point, he said, Discera has customers in aerospace where average selling prices are high, and is "building traction in computer peripherals for non-motherboard-type applications." Discera's products are "not just being designed in -- but customers are actually using them," he noted.
The company's 2008 strategy has been to build its channel, which is critically important for the commodity market Discera has targeted. Discera's partnership with Abracon smoothes the path to broad adoption, and completes its goal of global coverage, Bahl explained to Small Times.
"Electronics manufacturers now have immediate access to Discera's breakthrough technology through Digi-Key," said Abracon president Christopher Polley in a statement. "We look forward to working closely with Discera to help build a new world of electronics that use MEMS-based products for timing components."
According to Digi-Key president Mark Larson, "Our collaboration with Discera and Abracon provides our customers with access to a highly sought after and much anticipated solution -- a proven and scalable silicon alternative to quartz -- that will give them a competitive edge."
Bahl told Small Times that "MEMS technology often piques engineers' curiosity and gets you in the door," but that ultimately, the sale is made only when the product delivers the right functionality at the right price. Discera's MEMS oscillators have passed industry standard qualification tests, as well as extreme reliability tests, and demonstrated superior mechanical reliability compared to standard Bulk Acoustic Wave quartz solutions, he said.
Because quartz oscillators cannot scale in price and size, MEMS offers an attractive alternative to this decades-old technology. Discera promises excellent temperature stability and very low power consumption and its product is packaged in a tiny industry standard IC package, providing a "significant cost advantage" over hermetically sealed packages used by quartz-based oscillators. The disruptive MEMS technology for timing applications is a market anticipated to grow by 120% over the next four years, according to Wicht Technologie Consulting.
The first product in the ABRACON MEMS oscillator series, ASFML1, offers a standard 0-70C temperature range option across the entire 1Mhz to 125Mhz frequency range. Additional features include:
-- Ultra Miniature Pure Silicon Clock Oscillator
-- MEMS Technology by Discera
-- Low Power Consumption <10mA
-- Available in 30kG Shock Resistance Configuration
-- Low Cost-Compact QFN Plastic Packaging
-- Compact Package Design
The ASFML1 is available now in a 5.0 x 3.2 package through the Digi-Key print and online catalogs. The product training manual is also available on the Digi-Key website.