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The curious case of the maturing MEMS market

Posted: 25 Nov 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS? MEMS microphone? MEMS market? M&As?

Fastest growing device type

The fastest growing device type are BAW filters, of which 22 are used in the new iPhone 6s and 6s+, followed by microphones, bolstered by smartphone original equipment manufacturers (OEMs adding more and more of the most expensive, high definition with high signal-to-ratios to their products.)

For instance, the iPhone 4s used just two 59dB signal-to-noise ratio mics, the iPhone 5, 5s and 6 bumped that up to three 62dB to 63dB mic models and the latest iPhone 6s and 6s+ now use four 64dB to 66dB signal-to-noise ratio mics, according to IHS.

BAW market

According to HIS, intellectual property (IP) is key to the fast-growing bulk acoustic-wave (BAW) market prompting industrial espionage, lawsuits and intimidation campaigns in Avago's attempt to dominate the BAW filter market. (Source: IHS)

The fastest growing MEMS segmentbulk acoustic wave (BAW) filtersis so hot that it set off a round of industrial espionage accusations, according to Bouchaud, who cited litigation between Avago and TriQuint, resulting in a cross-licensing agreement, followed by Avago buying and scrapping TriQuint's principal source for BAWs as well as intimidating its customers. Finally, prompting TriQuint to merge with RF Micro Devices to form Quorvo, which allowed it to regain its footing and keep its number two position in BAW filters.

BAW filters

Besides using 22 BAW filters, the iPhone has led the market in adding not only more microphones to each successive model, but to purchase the most expensive high signal-to-noise models thus keeping MEMS mic from becoming a commodity market. (Source: IHS)

The bad news for the MEMS market is the slowdown in consumer electronics and mobile device sales in China, and the saturation of the market for inertial and pressure sensors in consumer markets, which have luckily been overcome by vendors with new sales into consumer and automotive markets of MEMS scanners for 3D cameras, adaptive headlights and MEMS-based lidars for future self-driving cars.

Top three

Combining all the ups and downs, with the good and bad news for the MEMS and sensor industry resulted in Bosch, Texas Instruments and STMicroelectronics retaining the top three positions and the other 17 of the top 20 falling out as indicated in the graph. (Source: IHS)

Bouchaud predicted that Volkswagon's diesel-gate woes would also prompt strong growth in sensors for cleaner fuel burning including NOX sensors, selective catalytic reduction (SCR) sensors and EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) differential pressure sensors. He also predicted new types of automotive sensors to assure cleaner burning fuels including particulate matter (soot) sensors and optical fuel quality sensors.

- R. Colin Johnson
??EE Times U.S.

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