“In retrospect, all revolutions seem inevitable. Beforehand, all revolutions seem impossible.” Michael McFaul wrote this about nations, but it is true in technology as well. This is exactly what is playing out in the quartz timing industry.

The quartz timing industry is now seeing a revolution that they thought was impossible. Even a few years ago most industry insiders said it could not happen. Now I don’t hear that anymore. They all know that change is coming. Change happens all around us – film cameras moved to silicon, disk storage is moving to silicon – there is a long list and quartz is on it.

Now some leaders in the industry speak with a sense of wishing it were not so, or hoping that it would progress more slowly. Some speak with a sense of riding through it or holding tough. But from the few more capable leaders one hears a determination to move forward and transition their businesses with the technology. That is the right thing to do, but it is difficult.

When folks look back on the change from quartz to silicon timing they will say it was inevitable.

EE Times just published a list with SiTime as one of ten companies to watch in 2013. They chose just ten from the areas of “Processors, memory, manufacturing processes, chip architecture, EDA, MEMS, RF, touch screens, servers and the Internet of Things.”

I am very happy with this! For over 30 years, EE Times has been a premier publication for the electronics industry; the place to go for news, analysis and well considered opinion. As a young engineer I used to carry my copy of EE Times constantly. In those days it was published as a broadsheet. It is now published on the web and their writers and editors are still completely up to speed. Wikipedia calls them the “newspaper of record for design and development engineers and technical managers.”

So having EE Times recognize SiTime is a big deal. It is something like an EE-Grammy award!

Recently I have been trying to describe how semiconductor companies differ from all other companies. What is their core attribute? I have sometimes said it is their following Moore’s Law, but it is much deeper than that. So how can I explain it better?

Last week SiTime’s CEO, Rajesh Vashist, described it perfectly: “If cars were made by semi companies then Ferrari’s would cost $25.” And that is it, that is the whole thing.

First, it’s about performance; always striving for more performance. Second it’s about value; always striving for more value. It is not necessarily about price. In semiconductors we do lower costs, but it is much more than that. We make things better at the right price.

Would you buy a Ferrari for $25? No! If you wanted to go fast you might buy a McLaren F1 for $250. And what would Ferrari do? They would enhance their “low end” machines. Their new cars would be so good, so well appointed, so fast, so safe, and use so little fuel that you would surely prefer them to today’s F1’s.

That is the core belief we hold in the semiconductor industry, that everything must offer higher performance and better value, and we are continuously extending what we mean by performance and value, we are continuously moving the goalpost. This is the core of what SiTime is doing, and we are bringing this to the quartz timing industry.

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