A Crystal creates an electric charge when pressure is applied to certain materials, such as quartz, and is known as the piezoelectric effect. It is a passive component that produces a very precise frequency output and is often used with oscillators to provide an accurate timing device in digital integrated circuits.
An Oscillator is an electronic or mechanical device that produces a regular oscillating output in the form of energy, often as a sine or square wave. They are used in microcontrollers, clocks, and computers to name a few.
A Resonator is used to control timing devices by generating a clock signal in oscillating circuits, particularly in microprocessors.
Ceramic Resonators - These create a clock signal which oscillates between a high and low state using a piece of piezoelectric ceramic.
Crystal Oscillators or OCXO TCXO and VCXO – Normally more cost-effective and compact, offering higher stability than ceramic resonators.
Crystal Units – Available in a wide range of frequencies.
Silicon Oscillators or MEMS Oscillators – Brands include Linear Technology, Maxim, Abracon and Microchip Technology offering a comprehensive range.
Sine Wave Oscillators – Used in circuits for test waveforms
Voltage Controlled Oscillators – These vary the DC voltage input to help control oscillation frequency.
These are commonly used in electronics as timing devices in applications such as computers, watches, microprocessors, digital circuits and microcontrollers.