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ST hits $1B mark in MEMS sales

Posted: 05 Mar 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS? gyroscopes? accelerometers? fab?

STMicroelectronics shipped 58 per cent more MEMS units last year making it the first company to reach $1 billion in MEMS sales despite dips in average prices of accelerometers and gyroscopes, according to a recent report by Yole Dveloppement.

"The company was there and ready with its 200mm fab when the volume demand started, as well as a large portfolio of products and low prices," noted Laurent Robin, Activity Leader, Inertial MEMS Devices & Technologies at Yole. "They could use a feed-the-fab-strategy to build volumes, and discounts for buyers of multiple devices to meet the price demands of the cell phone makers."

ST is now churning out some four million MEMS devices a day from inertial to consumer pressure sensors, microphones and e-compasses. It has been able to streamline its production process from manufacturing, in-house ASIC design, LGA packaging across all products, to high-volume parallel testing.

The company has also pushed the manufacturing technology to bring down die size, replacing glass frit with narrower gold bonding frames and replacing big bond pads with smaller TSVs made by etching air gaps around polysilicon vias. And it turned to outside partnerships (microphone technology from Omron) and purchases (magnetometers from Honeywell) to get new products to market faster.

ST ends Ericsson partnership to focus on embedded
STMicroelectronics has announced its revised business plan for the coming year with particular focus growth drivers such as MEMS and sensors. Read full story here.

The morphing of the MEMS industry into a high volume consumer smartphone business (see MEMS motion sensor market driven by smartphones, tablets) has played to the advantage of big IDMs with their ability to ramp volumes to price aggressively, and to offer customers a wide variety of products from a single source to simplify the supply chain.

The inertial sensor business also drove healthy 14 per cent MEMS growth at Robert Bosch, boosting that big IDM's sales close to those of long time industry leader Texas Instruments in a further reshuffling of the top companies line-up.

"2013 will also see MEMS becoming a part of mainstream semiconductor content. Its growth will be seen through an increased on board processing and integrated and self-contained sensing units," the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association (SSIA) said in an interview with EE Times Asia. SSIA believes that Internet of Things (IoT) is also likely to drive a large market for low power, low cost sensors. (See SSIA: MEMS to go mainstream this year.)

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