Differences Between an Oscillator and Crystal

Unless you are an electrical engineer or hardware specialist, defining the differences between oscillators and crystals is difficult. Utilized in processors and similar electrical devices, oscillators and crystals can be found in the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of desktop computers, laptops, and other electronic gadgets. Their ultimate goal is allowing a processor to work.

While they may have similar end goals, the similarities between both components end there. The way in which they power processors is very different. An oscillator provides complete connectivity for a processor clock. It is designed with a plastic or metal exterior and has four pins, two of which serve as power conduits, a third serving as an output, and the last pin is utilized to provide further mechanical connection. Moreover, the oscillator is constructed with a buffer that has the capacity to complete high output drive tasks.

A crystal, on the other hand, is not as versatile in design and function as compared to an oscillator. Instead, it is used to form an oscillator along with other components like trim caps, inverting amplifiers, and output buffers. Prior to implementation, crystals require calibration in order to fit into an oscillator configuration. Additionally, it is important to have suitable loading parameters and exact cut types to ensure that the crystal can fit perfectly into an oscillator.

Put simply, a crystal is part of an oscillator. Keep in mind that synchronizing a crystal to work with an oscillator is not an easy task, which is why engineers typically purchase oscillators that have already been calibrated with a crystal rather than buying all the components separately. Experienced engineers, however, prefer selecting the crystals themselves because certain crystals can optimize an oscillator’s functionality.

If a crystal is appropriately fitted, an oscillator can significantly increase the speed of the clock processor. In fact, clock processors often malfunction and break down when they are equipped with a faulty oscillator. Beyond acquiring a crystal with the correct specifications, all the other components necessary for an oscillator to function must be in great condition, ensuring your clock processor works properly.

To guarantee that your devices are operating as intended, sourcing quality oscillators and crystals is of the utmost importance. More than that, maintenance of such components should be routine in order to ensure they work optimally. If you find yourself in need of oscillators, crystals, trim caps, and output buffers, or specialized tools for the repair, replacement, or removal of such components, rely on ASAP Aerospace.


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