With the Hybridization of CERALOCK and Crystal Technologies, Murata Aims to Open Up New Markets
Director, Timing Device Division
Yamazaki joined Fukui Murata Manufacturing in 1984, where he was long responsible for business planning and marketing in the Capacitor Division. He stayed as the head of the sales site in Shanghai, China for five years. The rapid changes in the market he experienced there convinced him how important it is to conduct business from the customer’s perspective. Yamazaki took his current position in 2014.
He loves playing golf and badminton, and reading books.
The advancement of short-range wireless communication technology allows electronic devices to be connected via communication networks.Timing devices are indispensable for synchronizing the frequencies of signals used in these devices.
Future challenges will be ultraminiaturization for mobile and wearable applications and the improvement of accuracy to accommodate professional wireless equipment, data communication equipment, and base stations.
With innovative products, Murata will open up new markets.
Overwhelming Achievements and Customer Confidence in Piezoelectric Ceramic Products
In-Vehicle Electronics Generate Increasing Demand for Timing Devices
The history of Murata timing devices has been that of CERALOCK products, which have employed piezoelectric ceramics to replace quartz crystals. While carefully defining performance requirements for individual applications, we have delivered useful products in terms of size and cost. In addition to resonators, our piezoelectric ceramic product range includes filters, buzzers, and actuators, all of which have been among the most successful products at Murata, achieving the world’s highest market shares.
In the market for in-vehicle equipment, in particular, our long relationships with customers have won us great trust as we have delivered technologies and engineering that make for long-term quality assurance. Our quality management of components for use in automotive electronics is not a luxury. Our engineering process integrates it as a matter of course. I believe that will enable us to meet increasing customer needs in the automotive market.
Increasing Importance of Quartz Crystals in the Age of Advanced Short-Range Communication
Generating the key signal referenced by electronic devices for their operation, timing devices are indispensable to all electronic circuits. In particular, mobile and wearable devices require smaller timing devices. In the age of the “Internet of Things” (IoT), many different devices are fitted with communication functions for mutual interaction via the Internet. And processing big data requires the rapid transfer of huge amounts of data. Poor frequency accuracy of reference signals in any of the networked devices causes problems. That’s why encryption is required for confidentiality. Familiar Wi-Fi® devices and optical or data communication equipment require highly accurate timing devices. Here, quartz crystal technology is demanded since it can achieve higher accuracy than ceramics. By making Tokyo Denpa (TEW) a subsidiary, Murata was able to add crystal products to its lineup of timing devices. With a business history of some 80 years, TEW is a leading crystal device manufacturer. It worked on quartz crystal technology from early on, and its products have found use in communication equipment since the prewar period. Leveraging TEW’s crystal technology, Murata now offers an even broader and more promising range of timing solutions.
Increasing Customer Expectations for Murata’s Innovative HCR Quartz Crystal
Under the alliance with TEW, we launched a product named “HCR.” It is a pleasant surprise to our customers since it completely redefines the traditional concept of a resonator. It is a quartz crystal, but the packaging technology is familiar from the CERALOCK. As a manufacturer of ceramic resonators, we gained additional crystal technology and combined the best of both worlds to offer a high performance product. The general market for quartz crystals is dominated by 3225 (3.2 × 2.5mm)-size products.They come in high quantities and at low cost. That was where Murata introduced a notch smaller quartz crystal, in 2016 (2.0 x 1.6 mm) size. It is designed mainly for use in compact storage media such as HDDs, USB sticks, and SSD cards. Its advantages are now gaining broad recognition, leading to a substantial expansion of business.
This innovative crystal-based product also represents Murata’s strong commitment to the crystal business. Not only in the market for consumer electronics, but also in the automotive market, customers have expected suppliers to deliver smaller products at lower cost. We believe that the HCR can meet such needs.
Most crystal devices employ ceramic packages having a cavity. The crystal blank is set in a ceramic multilayer substrate, which is covered with a metallic or a ceramic lid. Currently the market is dominated by 3225 (3.2 x 2.5 mm)-size products. By adapting the packaging construction developed for the CERALOCK series, Murata has replaced the ceramic core with a crystal blank in 2016 size (2.0 x 1.6 mm), thereby completing a compact and low-cost alternative that fulfills the accuracy requirement.
Short-Range Wireless Communication Technology
Wireless communication networking is an indispensable feature in modern and future electronic devices. These devices are required to have a range of 10 to 20 m. To communicate with one another, they have to synchronize their signal frequencies, a process in which timing devices play a key role. The most important short-range wireless communication technologies going forward include:
- 1.BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)
- An extension of the Bluetooth® standards that ensures communication with extremely low levels of power. It is a part of the Bluetooth® 4.0 standards published in July 2010.
- A suite of communication standards primarily aimed at networking sensors. Despite short transmission distances and low transfer rates, it is characterized by low cost and power consumption.
- A set of wireless LAN standards which allows an electronic device to achieve connectivity among electronic devices based on the IEEE 802.11 International Standards established by Wi-Fi Alliance®.
“Now that communication is indispensable in automobiles, consumer appliances, and industrial equipment, timing devices play an increasingly important role in electronics.”
From Air-Filled Sealed to Hermetic Vacuum Sealed: a Broad Lineup to Meet Different Needs
Most consumer electronic products-from smartphones and feature phones to TVs, tuners, PCs, and wearables-are being connected via communication networks. Murata focuses on short-range wireless communication such as BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and Wi-Fi®. If we offer something even more accurate than the HCR, customers will surely use it.
As an application of CERALOCK technology, the original HCR quartz crystal is sealed using resin without vacuating the inside. Later we added a further developed variant that was vacuum sealed using metal. Its structure is advantageous to the development of compact products, and it will enable us to meet future customer needs for even smaller quartz crystals.
Facing Challenges in the Market for Industrial Wireless Equipment
Boasting an ability to produce high quality artificial crystal, Tokyo Denpa has long been in business by offering high accuracy products for use in industrial wireless communication equipment that requires high-frequency signals.
With its operations integrated in Murata, TEW can build further on its traditional product range and customer relations. The industrial wireless communication market, which covers communication infrastructure, networks, and wireless equipment, is expected to grow fast in the coming age of big data. Increasing demand for even more accurate products will drive continued innovation.
By combining the strengths of both Murata and TEW, we will face the challenges of developing higher accuracy and higher performance products and making new proposals welcomed in the industrial wireless communication market.
Murata offers two categories of timing devices: ceramic and crystal. They are subgrouped by application, size, and package. Murata’s proven ceramic resonators come under the name of CERALOCK. Our quartz crystal range includes standard cost-effective HCRs and high precision metal vacuum sealed variants. Also available are TCXOs (temperature-compensating crystal oscillators) which integrate temperature compensating circuits to deliver desired characteristics over a broad temperature range.CERALOCK resonators come in 3213 size. Quartz crystals are available in sizes from 2520 to 1612, and a new 1210 type is now in development.