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Analyst anticipates steady growth for MEMS players

Posted: 13 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS? foundry? 3D?

Over the past year, there have been major changes in the rankings of MEMS foundries, according to market research group Yole Developpement, with several new players entering the field such as Texas Instruments and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

According to Yole, 23 companies are offering MEMS foundry services globally. Jean Christophe Eloy, CEO, Yole Developpement, said: "2007 was another very good year for MEMS foundries having strong and healthy growth for most players. But in 2008, the road will certainly be bumpier."

Eloy suggested that several MEMS foundries would suffer from a decrease of key customer sales this year; for example, Sony is likely to experience a decline due to limited sales growth at Knowles Acoustics after the entrance of a second source for the microphone, and IMT Corp. with the end of the production for one of its major customers.

"But we think that in general the MEMS foundry business will have a growth rate of 25 to 30 percent in 2008," he said.

Visibility of ST, TI
The market research group puts STMicroelectronics again well ahead of the field, with revenues of $220 million from MEMS foundry activities in 2007, compared to $206 million in the past year. The second and third slots are held by new entrants TI and Sanyo, respectively, with revenues $80 million and $50 million for 2007.

"These two companies have been involved in MEMS foundry business for several years but their activities have only become visible last year," the market research group noted.

Silex, which was in tenth place in Yole's rankings for 2006, rose to fourth position, with sales of $26.3 million (up from $13.1 million) in 2007, however IMT went in the opposite direction, falling from second place in 2006 to fifth for 2007, with sales of $23 million.

Thee others in the top 10 are Micralyne, Sony, Daisa Semiconductor, ELMOS-SMI and MEMStech.

For ST, the inkjet head business continues to lead in importance, but Yole said the company's microfluidic foundry services have become very popular and they keep targeting new applications.

The group suggested TI and Sanyo are providing MEMS foundry services for a limited number of customers. For example, TI is manufacturing inkjet head structures for Lexmark.

With its excellent performance Silex is now the leading open foundry, before IMT, which was the open foundry leader in 2006. "Silex has garnered very important new customers and now 50 percent of their revenue is coming from manufacturing. Its involvement in the manufacturing of devices for the mobile phone market, especially 3D silicon engineered interposer, and medical applications are fuelling the growth," the group said.

"It is very interesting to look at the growth rate of the different companies. Silex has had the strongest growth with more than 10 percent in dollar terms (78 percent in Swedish currency value), after X-Fab and Tronics Microsystems. All these players are fuelling their growth with strong volume production and increasing demand from both existing customers and new customers," said Mathieu Potin, MEMS analyst, Yole Developpement.

Only Memscap is said to be losing ground with custom production decreasing by 11 percent compared to 2006. Asia Pacific Microsystems is also flat in 2007 compared to 2006. The company has been involved in its merger with ChipSense Corp. and its integration within the UMC/Unimicron group and sales have been stable.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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