CEO interview: SiTime's Rajesh Vashist on good timing

October 10, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
Rajesh Vashist
SiTime Corp., now owned by Japan's MegaChips Corp., has arrived at a good place. It claims to be the leader in MEMS-based timing circuits and to be enjoying rapidly increasing sales as more and more applications succumb to MEMS and replace the traditional quartz crystal.

Right now SiTime is addressing a $6 billion annual market traditionally served by more than 200 manufacturers of quartz crystals. The overall market is growing at CAGR about 5 percent but the MEMS part of the market is growing at a 65 percent CAGR, CEO Rajesh Vashist told EE Times Europe when we caught up with him in London.

Vashist characterized the market as $2 billion for simple resonators, $2 billion for more sophisticated oscillators usually catered for by a crystal and some analog circuitry and about $2 billion for more complex clocks and phase-locked loops (PLLs).

"Clearly as a fabless MEMS company we have an advantage [over crystal manufacturing companies] because we don’t have to own the infrastructure. This means SiTime can use the existing semiconductor and MEMS infrastructure and digital control of its MEMS to configure hundreds of devices from 10 or 12 base components," Vashist said.

"That $6 billion market will be $8 billion in five years. If we can have 10 percent of that market we will be doing well. The use cases are very wide but the secret for us is to use our flexibility to create timing solutions that don’t exist rather than trying to kick low-cost quartz crystals out of slots."

Nonetheless it is clearly SiTime's position that eventually MEMS will displace quartz almost everywhere just as the transistor was able to displace the vacuum tube.

Since its acquisition by MegaChips in 2014 (see Japan's MegaChips to buy MEMS maker SiTime ) SiTime doubled the number of units shipped in 2015 compared with 2014 to 125 million. The company expects to double shipments again in 2016 due to new applications and taking market share from quartz crystals.

The acquisition by has gone well, Vashist said, largely because the parent has left them alone but is there to back them up if they need it. "The cost of capital for us as a private company