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Car market drives MEMS chipset inertial sensors

Posted: 15 May 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS? inertial sensors? engine control unit?

According to the latest estimate from IHS, chipset microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors for automotive applications will experience significant growth this year. The reason behind this is the increasing use of the devices in car safety systems, added the market research firm.

Global revenue in 2013 for chipset inertial sensors used in motor vehicles will reach a projected $163 million, up a notable 77 per cent from $92 million last year. The anticipated increase continues a hot streak for the market, which saw a phenomenal 338 per cent surge last year from just $10 million in 2011.

Chipset inertial sensors are multiple-sensor devices integrating accelerometers, gyroscopes into a single package, providing inertial inputs to the electronic stability control (ESC) system in cars to prevent or minimise skidding, described IHS.

"ESC systems are mandated in North America, Europe and in other areas where the edicts are maturing such as Australia, Japan, Canada and South Korea," said Richard Dixon, Ph.D., principal analyst for MEMS & sensors at IHS. "But a huge growth opportunity exists in untapped territories like China, which would significantly impact the penetration of ESC worldwide given the vast size of the Chinese market."

Three architectures are currently possible for ESC systems in cars: on a PCB as a separate ESC engine control unit (ECU); attached to the brake modulator to save cabling; or collocated in the airbag ECU. Of these three usable locations, the current trend favours placing ESC systems in the airbag ECU to achieve a smaller footprint and greater efficiency, given that there is a space constraint for the ECU in this position near the cup holder in a vehicle, which favours an architecture of reduction.

A paramount issue for ESC systems is cost. Cost is especially important because ESC formerly was considered an optional featurebut since being mandated by governmentsit now has attained the same required status as the seat belt.

As a result, the entire supply chain and price structure for automotive chipset sensors has been experiencing huge pressure, exerted from car makers down the chain. Tier 1 companies then pass on this pressure to their suppliers, accounting for the accelerated move to provide efficient chipset sensor solutions for inertial sensors in the system.

Because of such pressure, some top-tier companies have indicated that only legacy businesses will use older arrangements featuring separate sensorsnot a chipset solutionon a PCB in the future. All new car models will use chipset sensors.

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