Archive for the ‘MEMS’ Category

What’s the future of MEMS?

June 30, 2014 Comments off

MEMS market.

MEMS market.

What does the future hold for MEMS? How can the MEMS indistry stay profitable and innovative in the next five years? The MEMS market is still in a dynamic growth with an estimated 12.3 percent CAGR over 2013-2019 in $US value, growing from $11.7 billion in 2013 to $24 billion in 2019.

This growth, principally driven by a huge expansion of consumer products, is mitigated by two main factors. First, due to a fierce competition based on pricing, the ASPs are continuously decreasing.

Second, innovation is slow and incremental, as no new devices have been successfully introduced on the market since 2003.  Fierce competition based on pricing in now ongoing putting thus extreme pressure on device manufacturers.

Some trends are still impacting MEMS business. These are:

* Decrease of price in consumer electronics; ASP of MEMS microphones.
* Component size is still decreasing.

However, successful companies are still large leaders in distinct MEMS categories, such as STMicroelectronics, Knowles, etc. But maintaining growth in consumer electronic applications remains a challenge.

The market for motion sensor in cell phones and tablets is large and continuously expanding. Discrete sensors still decline, but will still be used in some platforms (OIS function for gyros). Next, 6- and 9-axis combos should grow rapidly. Because of strong price pressure and high adoption rate, the total market will stabilize from 2015.

STMicroelectronics, InvenSense and Bosch are still leaders in 3-axis gyros and 6-axis IMUs. It seems difficult for new players to compete and be profitable in this market. The automotive, industrial and medical applications of MEMS are driving growth of MEMS business. MEMS for automotive will grow from $2.6 billion in 2012 to $3.6 billion in 2018 with 5 percent CAGR.

MEMS industry is big and growing. Strong market pull observed for sensors and actuators in cell phones, automotive, medical, industrial.

• Not limited to few devices. A new wave of MEMS is coming!
• Component and die size are still being optimized while combo approaches become mainstream. And several disruptive technology approaches are now in development to keep going in term of size and price decrease.
• But the MEMS industry has not solved a critical issue: how to increase the chance of new devices to enter the market?

–RF switch, autofocus, energy harvesting devices, fuel cells… are example of devices still under development after over 10 years of effort.
–How to help companies to go faster and safer on the market with new devices?

Round-up 2013: Best of semiconductors, electronics and solar

December 31, 2013 Comments off

Virtex UltraScale device.

Virtex UltraScale device.

Friends, here’s a review of 2013! There have been the usual hits and misses, globally, while in India, the electronics and semiconductor industries really need to do a lot more! Enjoy, and here’s wishing everyone a Very Happy and Prosperous 2014! Be safe and stay safe!!

DEC. 2013
What does it take to create Silicon Valley!

How’s global semicon industry performing in sub-20nm era?

Xilinx announces 20nm All Programmable UltraSCALE portfolio

Dr. Wally Rhines: Watch out for 14/16nm technologies in 2014!

Outlook 2014: Xilinx bets big on 28nm

NOV. 2013
Indian electronics scenario still dull: Leaptech

Connecting intelligence today for connected world: ARM

India poses huge opportunity for DLP: TI

SEMICON Europa 2013: Where does Europe stand in 450mm path?

OCT. 2013
Apple’s done it again, wth iPad Air!

IEF 2013: New markets and opportunities in sub-20nm era!

SEPT. 2013
ST intros STM32F4 series high-performance Cortex-M4 MCUs

Great, India’s having fabs! But, is the tech choice right?



Now, India to have two semicon fabs!

Higher levels of abstraction growth area for EDA

AUG. 2013
Moore’s Law could come to an end within next decade: POET

What’s happening with 450mm: G450C update and status

300mm is the new 200mm!

JULY 2013
Xilinx tapes-out first UltraScale ASIC-class programmable architecture

JUNE 2013
EC’s goal: Reach 20 percent share in chip manufacturing by 2020!
Read more…

300mm is the new 200mm!

August 14, 2013 Comments off

300mm fabs.

Buyers of 300mm fabs.

300mm is the new 200mm, said GlobalFoundries’ David Duke, during a presentation titled ‘Used Equipment Market’ at the recently held Semicon West 2013 in San Francisco, USA. Used semiconductor equipment sourcing and sales is a very interesting challenge.

Qimonda, Spansion, Powerchip and ProMOS had jumpstarted the market. Now, there is a broadening user base. There is an unexpected uptake by analog and power device producers to achieve economies of scale. There has been legacy logic scaling. Also, the 200mm fabs are being upgraded to 300mm with used equipment. Many 300mm tools can “bridge” to 200mm easily.

Parts tools are seeding the ecosystem. Third parties are also able to support refurb as well as tool moves. However, we need more! Software licensing is becoming a smaller hurdle. There has been no over-supply yet!

So, what are the ‘rough’ rules of thumb for 300mm? First, there are approximately 1,500 individual tools in the open market. Few sellers know the values as the market is still developing. Twenty percent of the transactions drive 80 percent of sales. Today, the number of 300mm buyers is around  1/10th the number of 200mm buyers!

Lithography has been the biggest difference. Leading edge DRAM is far more expensive in lithography. Lithography has seen the most dramatic financial effects with explosive pricing in technology (immersion) and the need for capacity (two-three critical passes vs. one with dual/triple gate patterning. As of now, financial shocks and bankruptcies are the main drivers for used 300mm.

Next, 200mm is now the new 150mm! The 200mm OEM support is starting to dry up. It is nearly impossible to compete in productivity vs. 300mm. Oversupply is causing values to stay suppressed. The only bright spot being: there is still strong demand for complete fabs. The 200mm market split is roughly by 40 percent Asia and 60 percent rest of the world.

So, what are the likely alternative markets for 200mm and 300mm fabs? These are said to be MEMs and TSV, LEDs and solar PV.

That brings me to India! What are they doing about fabs over here? This article has enough pointers as to what should be done. Otherwise, the world is already moving to 450mm fabs! Am I right?

Non-mainstream packaging in MEMS, LED and power electronics

Source: Yole, France.

Source: Yole, France.

The number of MEMS and sensors going into mobile, consumer and gaming applications is expected to continue to skyrocket. As a result, OSAT and Wafer foundry players are getting more and more interest in MEMS module packaging, as volume and complexity of MEMS SiP modules is increasing dramatically, said Dr. Eric Mourier, Yole Developpement.

It implies that IDMs needs to find second source partnersand qualify some OSATs in order to secure their supply chain. Also, standardization(coming from both foundries, OSAT, WLP houses or substrate suppliers) is critical and necessary to implement in order to keep the packaging, assembly, and test cost of MEMS modules under control. There are many different players with different designs, and it’s not likely we’ll see one solution adopted by all the players.

As for wafer-level packaging (WLP) for LEDs, WLP has not been strongly deployed in the LED industry due to associated technical challenges. In the short-term, there is ESD integration in Si substrate. In the long-term, LED drivers could be integrated at the package level for Intelligent lighting. Ultimately, there are wafer-to-wafer manufacturing schemes for certain packaget types.

Real production of HB-LEDs with a mixed approach of WLP+through silicon vias (TSV) is just starting. There are some Taiwanese players such as TSMC, Xintec, Visera, Touch MicroTech and Sibdi, and South Korea-based LG Innotek. Additional players in the semiconductor and MEMS industry are seeking to enter the field.

Coto announces MEMS based magnetically operated switch

April 23, 2013 Comments off

Stephen Day.

Stephen Day.

According to Stephen Day, VP of Technology, Coto Technology has the number 1 share in reed relays and relay products. The Coto brand is associated with the broadest portfolio, best in class quality, dedicated technical support, and a provider of innovative solutions. He was speaking at the ongoing 13th Globalpress Electronics Summit in Santa Cruz, USA.

Coto has announced the RedRock, a new MEMS based magnetically operated switch. The RS-A-2515 is the world’s smallest wafer level packaged magnetically operated reed switch. It consumes zero power, measures 2mm3 in footprint and switches at less than 0.3W. It delivers high reliability and surface mount package.

The small footprint means use of less PCB real estate, no operate power means a longer battery life. The low switching power leads to higher reliability. The high directionality leads to resistance to stray fields. Hot switchable feature leads to higher reliability.

Together, Coto has managed to combine the best of two worlds — traditional reed switches with MEMS processing. There is high aspect ratio microfabrication (HARM). This is the first commercially available switch. It produces structures that generate strong contact closure forces. The forces are many times greater than the previous MEMS based magnetic switches. It also enables hot switching up to several hundred milliwatts.

HARM is the key to making it all possible. The benefits are many, from temperature rise vs. carry current, to RedRock contact life test, 1V 1 mA hot-switched load. RedRock allows for small size, zero power consumption and high power switching.

At the moment, Coto is leveraging RedRock into high growth applications. In the future, Coto will integrate sensor solution as well. RedRock’s unique combination of features include reed — no power and high current, and MEMS — no power and small size, as well as GMR/Hall — small size and high current — to deliver the RedRock, which features no power, small size and high current.

Metal MEMS provides future of cell phone radio

Dennis Yost.

Dennis Yost.

Cavendish Kinetics is well known for its combined experience in MEMS, RF system design and CMOS design. Since 2008, it has focused on developing digital variable capacitors to improve wireless connectivity and data rates for mobile phones.

According to Dennis Yost, president & CEO, Cavendish Kinetics, 4G/LTE mobile devices are not yet achieving their potential. Antenna frequency tuning is an essential technology. Only metal MEMS technology has the size and performance. He was speaking at the ongoing Globalpress Electronics Summit 2013 in Santa Cruz, USA.

Cavendish claims to have the team, proven technology and real demonstrated performance. There is IP and patent protection for customers. Cavendish also owns the process.

The future of cell phone radio is needed in order to meet the performance gap. In future, you will see adaptive power amplifiers.

Antenna frequency tuning used in traditional RF applications. How do you ensure there is no loss in the component? Only MEMS has the performance and size for cell phones. Metal MEMS has almost no series resistance. No switches are required.

Previous designs required switches and different loads. Mechanical capacitors change capacitance value by moving plates – changing the area or plate distance changes the capacitance. MEMS capacitors do the same at the micrometer level.

Successful MEMS
Users can control design and manufacturing process of devices. How a MEMS is built is just as important as what you build. Success requires MEMS design expertise, MEMS process expertise and MEMS volume production expertise.

Cavendish has MEMS experts in all areas. It developed and owned MEMS manufacturing process. It uses all standard CMOS foundry technology. Innovations have so far yielded over 100 patents in manufacturing process and MEMS design.

By using the NanoMech technology performance, Cavendish Kinectics has demonstrated excellent performance in a small chip.

Critical success factors for MEMS commercialization



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.

Inertial micropump technology for microfluidic apps

Alexander Govyadinov

Alexander Govyadinov

At a MEMS Industry Group seminar in Orlando, US, Alexander Govyadinov, lead technologist, Hewlett-Packard Printing & Technology Development Organization said microfluidics looks at the movement of small amounts of fluids through microchannels.

The current microfluidic applications include pharmaceutical and life science research, clinical and veterinary diagnostics, human point-of-care, analytical devices, environment and industrial testing, and inhalers, micropumps and microneedles.

The microfluidic segment has been growing at 20 percent CAGR. By 2016, the $4.7 billion market size refers to the over 1 billion microfluidic chips and substrates. The GM for synthetic biology reached $1 billion in 2012.

Every fluidic system needs a pump. Although external pumps are commonly used, there is lack of simple, cheap and easy-to-integrate mcro-pumps.

There is passive capillary pump operation using capillaty retention valve (CRV). In a capillary-driven microfluidic device the chip is composed of microfluidic functional elements. There are rotary pumps as well. Rotating gears can be hard to integrate and require strong external actuators. Mostly, external pumps are available. There are pneumatic/membrane micropumps as well as external piezo pumps and active pumps.

In a thermal inkjet (TIJ), the voltage pulse heats the resistor and boils the fluid. Once, the droplet has been ejected, the chamber is refilled by capillary forces. HP has an inertial pump for microfluidics. There exists a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) inertial pump model. An optimal resistor location is available. There are 2mmx512 pump-channel arrays.

Vison for future micropump applications include generic fluidic network with reversible pumps. Pumps’ densities can be up to 1000 per inch2. There are concepts such as polymerase chain reactor and u-calorimeter total analysis system.

Microfluidics is a growing field. Inertial pump is a new way to move fluids through microchannels.

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…

Integrating next-gen technology into nano/MEMS facilities

September 23, 2012 Comments off

CH2M HLL on nanomanufacturing.

CH2M HLL on nanomanufacturing.

CH2M HLL is a global leader in consulting, design, design-build, operations, and program management. Its ultimate goal is to link nanotechnologies to high-tech manufacturing.

Nanomanufacturing techniques for scale include photo-lithography techniques, e-beam lithography techniques, ion-beam lithography techniques, nano-imprint lithography, nanofabrication by self-assembly and laser technology processes.

There are three major challenges for cost-effective nanomanufacturing — flexibility, critical environment scale-up and safety, sustainability and health (SSH). Also, nanomanufacturing requires high flexibility. Nanofacility critical environments include electromagnetic interference, cleanliness, vibration, temperature and humidity control, adaptive HVAC zones, airborne molecular contamination (AMC) and acoustics.

There are nano facility site planning challenges such as surface transit, direct current light rail, high voltage lines and truck and bus traffic. There is a need to analyse the detailed ambient conditions study and subsurface vibration testing, which is 3-4 meters below grade. Solutions include ‘no-build zones for vibration, EMI and RFI, building outside zones, identify ‘sweet spot’, VC-E lower/first level, and remediation by mass such as slab size lower level and slab size first level.

The proposed model for CH2M HLL’s China nanomanufacturing includes top level R&D labs, stacked cleanrooms for pilot and manufacturing, nano/MEMS/NEMS, ISO 5 and 7 cleanrooms, VC-D and VC-C vibration criteria, E-beam metrology, TEM suite capability and remote bulk gas pad. The proposed China baseline is in Suzhou, China.

Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, CH2M HLL has nearly 30,000 employees. Broadly diversified across multiple business sectors, it had $6.4 billion in revenue (2011).

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