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Sensor chipsets mfg costs same across various vendors

Posted: 14 May 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IMUs? sensor chipsets? QFN?

Three leading nine-axis inertial measurement units (IMUs) released in 2013-the BMX055 from Bosch Sensortec, STMicroelectronics' LSM9DS0, and the InvenSense MPU-9250-were manufactured by vendors through distinct processes yet costs remain roughly the same, according to teardown by System Plus Consulting.

Driven by the benefits of integrated devices and price decreases per function, the market for sensor chipsets is estimated to grow from $446 million in 2013 to $1.97 billion in 2018, according to a report from Yole Development. At this growth rate, sensor chipsets will rise from 21 per cent of the global inertial consumer market in 2013 to 66 per cent by 2018.

The market acceptance of sensor chipsets has been extremely quick for six-axis IMUs and six-axis e-compass devices. The relatively new nine-axis solutions examined will no doubt be followed by more innovative solutions. Sensor chipsets are becoming mainstream in consumer systems and also find use in cars, but smartphones remain the application that will drive the market for the next few years.

Prices are dropping sharply with some IMUs sold to some large volume customers for less than a dollar per unit in 2013. Prices for the nine-axis devices in this teardown are still relatively high, but cost pressures on them will rise as they reach volume production.

The three components use different packaging with footprints that range from 4mmx4mm (16mm2) for the STMicroelectronics part to 3mmx3mm (9mm2) for the InvenSense device. STMicroelectronics and Bosch Sensortec use LGA packages while InvenSense uses a QFN package.

STMicroelectronics, Bosch Sensortec, Invensense sensor chipsets

Figure 1: The three packages vary widely in size (top). The devices under the epoxy resin show even greater diversity (bottom).

Strong differences in internal structure emerged after the epoxy resin was removed. For example, STMicroelectronics and Bosch use five die, but InvenSense only uses two C one die for a six-axis accelerometer/gyroscope and one for a three-axis magnetometer.

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