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Critical success factors for MEMS commercialization


MEMS

MEMS

MEMS still has a long way to go to meet the challenges of commercialization! Critical success factors include efficient process transfer from breadboard to production. There is a need to pay attention to customers’ needs. More resources need to be adopted from the semiconductor industry, said Roger Grace, president, Roger Grace Associates.

There is a need to create significant awareness as to the unique solution benefits of MEMS based systems and establish defensible product differentiation. Firms need to better understand customer/market needs.

Emerging opportunities include single MEMS based system solutions, especially in analytical instruments, double magnetic MEMS, triple point-of-care bio, energy harvesting/storage, etc. There are barriers to commercialization of MEMS. Until recently, it is plagued by lack of high-volume apps. There is lack of well-defined direction from roadmaps, industry standards and associations. Packaging and testing costs are typically at 70 percent of total value. There is also a lack of focus on customer needs and lack of capital formation opportunities, risk averse investors.

Besides, successive bubble busts, i.e., biomems, optical telecom, have seen wary investors. There are very fragmented markets, many small companies and few large players. Also, there are limited ‘success stories’ of MEMS/MST companies, eg., Invensense. There are new market opportunities for large volume apps, eg. in automotive, CE, etc.

Downturn hit research hard! R&D remains a novelty for most firms. Now, there is an increase in university and R&D labs for MEMS development. There is still plenty of R&D available from DARPA, SBIR and STTRs. Now, we are seeing a healthy amount of activity in new devices and systems research.

As for DfM (design for manufacturing), Invensense’s ‘shuttle’ process may finally become a usable standard. New approaches are also changing the paradigm of cost structure. Examples are Invensense gyros, Freescale chip-stacking accelerometers, ST, etc.

While there seems to be strong MEMS infrastructure, there is some fraying at the ends. The industry needs to remain competitive and lean. As for profitability, while the margins don’t seem great for high volume MEMS devices, they are holding on somewhat. The general consensus of the VC community has been that MEMS has lot of growth potential, but it doesn’t have a good track record of producing profitable firms, as yet.

The lack of DfM emphasis and the absence of a coherent package and test capability is the lack of management insight. As for standards, the creation of the first Standardized Sensor Performance Parameter Definitions is a huge step in the right direction.

MEMS to be $21 billion market by 2017: Yole

October 8, 2012 Comments off

MEMS update: Source: Yole

MEMS update: Source: Yole

The MEMS market is on a growing curve again, and many changes are happening on the technical side, business model side and supply chain side. MEMS will continue to see steady, sustainable double digit growth for the next six years: 13 per cent CAGR in revenues and 20 per cent CAGR in units. MEMS will grow to $21 billion market by 2017.

Every year brings new business to the MEMS landscape. Combo sensors are coming. The MEMS market is still very fragmented, with a number of high volume MEMS applications still limited today. However, a whole range of new MEMS devices has now reached the market and new ’emerging MEMS’ devices are coming..

MEMS applicable to mobile devices (RF MEMS switches, oscillators, auto-focus) have the possibility to ramp up to large volumes quickly. Growth will also come from existing sensors that are expanding into new market spaces: e.g. pressure sensors for consumer.

Consumer/mobile applications are driving about 50 per cent of the total volume. Telecom and medical applications will grow faster with expected CAGR of ~20 per cent in the next five years. Industrial MEMS applications represent significant opportunities with grow of ~13 per cent likely.

MEMS in 2011
Four devices represented over 50 per cent of units shipped in 2011. Microphones, accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers represented more than 50 per cent of MEMS units shipped in 2011.

Accelerometer, gyroscope and electronic compass growth is coming from the detection of movement, which is reaching every applications, from mobile phones to pacemakers to smart munitions. Microphone has found a sweet spot in the mobile phone business, replacing the electric condenser type of microphones.

All these devices are about to be combined with other sensors and electronic functions/processing in order to add more value. Multi-microphone arrays with noise cancellation functionalities are now a new feature in smartphones. Accelerometers plus gyroscopes plus electronic compasses are being combined (in a SiP package, in the near future, in silicon SoC) to bring a higher level of functionality at even lower costs.

Invensense achieved the same MEMS size when moving from 2-axis to 3-axis gyros (ITG-3200). As for MEMS accelerometer roadmap, new packaging concepts (such as metal-to-metal wafer bonding, WLP/TSV technologies) are driving the ‘Moore law’ of the MEMS technology roadmap.

In an example of STM accelerometer using TSV technology, by removing the area reserved for I/O pads, the TSV process allows the MEMS die area to be shrinked by 25 per cent compared to the standard accelerometer. However, TSV adds major manufacturing changes that increase the final wafer cost by about $90. The wafer extra cost cumulated with a shrinked MEMS die, makes the final die cost still competitive.

In the 2011 MEMS ranking of the top 30 players, TI, STMicro, HP and Bosch are the ‘big 4′ players with annual revenues of > $700 million. The top 30 accounts for ~80 per cent of total MEMS market. More than 25 players generate annual revenues from $50 million to $300 million.

As for 2011 MEMS foundry rankings, some MEMS IDMs have been successful in developing a MEMS foundry business beyond internal needs. STMicro is by far the no. 1 with key customers such as HP (related to ink-jet MEMS manufacturing). Sony has Knowles’ silicon microphone wafer manufacturing business.

Pure play MEMS foundries include Silex (SW), DALSA (CA), apm (TW), IMT (US), tMt (TW) and DNP (JP). CMOS wafer foundries are entering the MEMS manufacturing space with TSMC (TW), umc (TW), Globalfoundries (SG), SMIC (CH), X-Fab (GE) and Semefab (UK).

The 2011 MEMS foundry services accounted for ~6 per cent of the total MEMS market ($623 million). In 2010, the ratio was similar. Now, there are more and more fabless companies in the MEMS space! There are over 70 fabless MEMS companies.
Read more…

Focus on gyroscopes for mobile phone apps: Yole

September 16, 2010 1 comment

Laurent Robin, MEMS market analyst, Yole Développement, presented on gyroscopes for mobile phone apps during a MEMS market briefing in Tokyo, at MEMS/Micromachine 2010.

He presented an overview of the MEMS inertial sensor market, as well as a status of the gyroscope market in consumer applications. He focused on gyroscope for mobile phone applications and a combination of motion sensors for mobile phones.

Overview of MEMS inertial sensor market
Robin presented an overview of the MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes market.

MEMS accelerometers
CE: $596.84 million in 2010 going up to $799.80 million in 2013. The CAGR 2008-13 is 17 percent.
Automotive: $462.85 million in 2010 going up to $574.62 million in 2013. The CAGR 2008-13 is 4.7 percent.
Industrial & Medical: $96.28 million in 2010 going up to $126.04 million in 2013. The CAGR is 4.4 percent.
Aerospace & Defense: $92.61 million in 2010 going up to $128.12 million in 2013. The CAGR is 10 percent.

MEMS gyroscopes
CE: $296.09 million in 2010 going up to $701.60 million in 2013. The CAGR 2008-13 is 27.3 percent.
Automotive: $473.43 million in 2010 going up to $521.56 million in 2013. The CAGR 2008-13 is 2.5 percent.
Industrial & Medical: $12.43 million in 2010 going up to $16.90 million in 2013. The CAGR is 10.6 percent.
Aerospace & Defense: $128.69 million in 2010 going up to $177.03 million in 2013. The CAGR is 9.7 percent.

Status of gyroscope market in consumer apps
The 3-axis gyroscopes are now available. As expected, Invensense and ST Microelectronics have released the first 3-axis gyroscopes in Q4 2009.

Those 3-axis gyroscopes are starting to be integrated in some handset platforms in the summer of 2010. The price is now low enough for high-end smartphones: around $2.50 probably. However, it will have to decrease quickly for further adoption.

The 2009 MEMS gyroscope market share for CE applications is estimated at $258 million. As for the market shares, five competitors — Invensense, Epson Toyocom, Panasonic, Murata and — ST are playing in the consumer electronics gyroscope market today. Invensense and ST are strongly competing to enter this promising mobile phone market. The Japanese players have not extended their camcorder and camera business to mobile phones yet.

Where are the MEMS markets going?

September 10, 2010 Comments off

Yole Développement and its partner System Plus Consulting recently took part in MEMS/Micromachine 2010. Jean-Christophe Eloy, president and CEO, Yole, presented a MEMS Markets forecast 2009-2015: overview of the Industry and technologies trends. May I also take this opportunity to thank Sandrine Leroy, media and PR manager, Yole.

MEMS remains a fragmented market: A limited number of applications have a market size above $200 million.

Simplification of manufacturing is still an objective. The MEMS law – “one product, one process, one package” is still there. MEMS packaging is more and more an “added value step” with 3D MEMS being more widely adopted. Also, software development is now an important competence in MEMS companies in order to sell functions and not devices.

The development of new MEMS applications is taking years to be commercialized. On an average, four years from first developments to first commercial product and $45 million of investment, and three to four different CEOs.

Several major system companies with MEMS fabs are now looking to use external foundries. At least five major companies are involved in such changes, with a total cumulative business of $350 million. Delphi and Conti have already taken this decision.

The 8’’ manufacturing infrastructure is required for companies targeting consumer electronics.  It should be noted that MEMS manufacturers not involved in consumer electronics are facing a very strong risk to lose competitiveness.

Competition is also increasing on consumer electronics applications. STMicroelectronics  is now proposing accelerometers, gyroscopes, microphones and digital compass. Also, Invensense is searching in its IPO large extra funding to compete on motion sensing applications.

MEMS foundry market – Ranking of MEMS Foundries; Source: Yole Développement, France.

Ranking of MEMS Foundries; Source: Yole Développement, France.

The MEMS foundry production services market traditionally develops at 20 percent AAGR. The back to normal growth will happen in 2011.

Emerging MEMS market
A note on the emerging MEMS market. Areas such as MEMS ID, ustructures, energy harvesting, uFuel cells, electronic compass, microtips, microdisplay, autofocus/uZoom, MEMS oscillators, and MEMS speakers are said to be emerging.

The emerging MEMS market share was $559 million in 2009, including auto focus — 57.7 percent, digital compass — 22.4 percent, micro tips for ATE – 10.4 percent, and microbolometers cores — 7.5 percent, respectively.

The emerging MEMS market share is likely to reach $2.2 billion in 2015, including auto focus — 36.1 percent, digital compass – 17.1 percent, and micro displays – 15.9 percent,  respectively.

Reshaping the embedded world: Vivek Sharma, ST


Vivek Sharma, regional VP, Greater China & South Asia region -- India Operations and Director, India Design Center, STMicroelectronics.

Vivek Sharma, regional VP, Greater China & South Asia region -- India Operations and Director, India Design Center, STMicroelectronics.

It was a pleasure to catch up with Vivek Sharma, regional VP, Greater China & South Asia region — India Operations and Director, India Design Center, STMicroelectronics, on the sidelines of the 4th Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) 2010 in Bangalore. We had a wonderful discussion on the trends that are reshaping today’s embedded world.

Sharma said: “Moore’s Law has governed many new things. In fact, it has ruled the roost. The industry has been able to push up complexity within a chip and also bring down costs.” As an example, during the last two decades, cost and complexity have combined to create the mobile device — which has turned out to be a disruptive application. The world recently added its 5 billionth mobile subscriber in July 2010. There is likely to be a whopping 50 billion connected devices by 2020!

SiP reshaping embedded world

Touching upon ‘more than Moore”, Sharma added that shrinking will keep on happening. System-in-package is a reality today and is reshaping the embedded world. It can allow more shrinking in size and push down costs.

Borrowing from wikipedia, for those interested, a system-in-a-package or system in package (SiP), also known as a chip stack MCM, is a number of ICs enclosed in a single package or module, and performs all or most of the functions of an electronic system.

3D heterogenous integration and  TSV

3D heterogenous integration and  through-silicon via (TSV) is another trend reshaping the industry. 3D packaging with 3D TSV interconnects provides another path toward “More than Moore”, with relatively smaller capital investments.
3D-ICs stack multiple chips together and interconnect them using through-silicon via (TSV) structures, thereby providing much more functions in a smaller footprint.

MEMS key segment
MEMS is yet another sector which is reshaping the industry. Sensors play a major role in our lives. “If we can develop good sensors, they can change our lives,” said Sharma.

“Accelerometers and gyroscopes are two key segments with substantial growth. MEMS takes advantage of the electrical and mechanical properties of the silicon.’ Sharma added that all MEMS gyroscopes take advantage of Coriolis effect. In 2009, ST introduced over 30 multi-axis gyroscopes.

For the statistically inclined, earlier this year, Dr. Robert Castellano of the Information Network said in their report 3-D TSV: Insight On Critical Issues And Market Analysis, that while the overall equipment market will grow at a CAGR of nearly 60 percent between 2008-2013, the metrology/inspection sector is expected to grow nearly 80 percent. On the device side, TSVs for MEMS is expected to grow nearly 100 percent in this time frame. Read more…

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