Tag: mems

Nintendo 3DS only costs $100 to put together

Researchers at IHS iSuppli have torn apart a Nintendo 3DS and have concluded that the component cost amounts to only $100.71 – even though the unit sells for $250 in the USA.

In the UK, the 3DS costs £230 – that is currently $368, quite considerably more than the $100 bill of materials cost that IHS iSuppli estimates. Last week we reported how the UK is being stung by the price Nintendo is charging here in the UK.

The market research company compared the BOM for the 3DS to the Nintendo DSi, the latter cost in component charges $75.58 – IHS iSuppli thinks that the 3DS is vulnerable because it uses suppliers based in Japan, already reeling from supply difficulties because of the earthquake, tsunami and the failure of power.

Andrew Rassweiler, senior director, said that the 3D top screen uses a “clever feat of engineering”, based on Sharp technology and using an integrated LCD based parallax barrier panel sandwiched to the back of the colour LCD. The user interface of the 3DS is more expensive because it uses a MEMS gyroscope, while the camera subsystem costs $4.70, not much more than the DSi.

STMicro improves MEMS with iNemo

Semiconductor outfit STMicroelectronics has announced its latest MEMS development, the iNemo Engine.

It is an advanced filtering and predictive software engine, says STMicro, which integrates outputs from a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope and 3-axis magnetometer, fusing the data through algorithms to prioritise reliability and accuracy in sensor performance.

What that means in simple terms is makes of consumer electronics will be further buying into ST’s MEMS to put into devices which will know the way you’re holding them and other motion sensing stuff.

The iNemo engine extracts data from outputs of different motion sensors at once and forces them to augment each other, meaning the sensors will work in unison and complement each other rather than ticking away individually. It’ll be able to correct magnetic distortions on magnetometers, dynamic distortions on accelorometers and the inherent drift over time of the gyroscope, according to STMicro.

All of those sensors will find accuracy benefited as it removes drift problems and, says ST, put calibration timeouts on the rubbish bin.

It’s available now directly through ST and partners. Expect kit using iNemo in production before the year’s end.

ADI announces quad-sensor MEMS gyroscopes

ADI has announced a range of MEMS gyroscopes using a set of four sensors to allow incredibly accurate movement sensing for devices such as the iPad.

The ADXRS64x series will use ADI’s quad-sensor technology, which is able to reject unwanted vibrations with its shock, noise and vibration immunity, to continue to provide reliable angular rate, or rotational, sensing despite adverse conditions, says ADI.  

ADI have released the ADXRS642, ADXRS646, and ADXRS649, priced at $41.85, $75.39 and 58.59 per 1000 respectively.

The MEMS gyros have linear acceleration sensitivities as low as 0.015°/sec/g, according to ADI, which is compared to 0.1°/sec/g “offered by the leading alternative”.

The ADXRS64x series also offers faster three milliseconds start-up times, and 10 times lower power consumption at 3.5 mA, compared to other MEMS gyros on the market that consume twice as much at 60 mA, also meaning that the range is well suited to low power portable devices.

The family of gyros now allow what is considered, at least by ADI, to be the highest rate of rotation sensing available at up to ±50,000°/sec for the ADXRS649.

The ADXRS646 allows for extremely low-drift performance of eight degrees per hour meaning that the technology can be used at the higher precision end of applications, as well as functioning in environments between -40° C and 105° C.

MEMSahibs rule roost until 2014

Global demand for microelectromagnetical (MEMs) system devices is expected to continue to rise until at least 2014, thanks to continuous demand for smartphones such as the iPhone4.

This is represents somewhat of a turn around for the MEMS industry which was floundering previously to an extent, with two years of decline up until 2010 when revenues rose by 18.3 percent as compared to 2009.

Though this boom will not continue into the coming year, it is expected the market will remain very healthy with near double digit figures of 9.5 percent growth expected, keeping a clear gap between the growth figure of 5.1 percent for the overall semiconductor industry.

However there is further good news for the MEMS market as it is expected that double digit growth will return from 2012 up until 2014, with revenue forecast to shoot up from $5.97 billion in 2009 to $10.81 billion in 2014, according to figures released by iSuppli.

It is thought that cell phones will account for the strongest demand in the next few years, with MEMS revenue expected to reach triple the figure seen in 2009, rising from $1.3bn to $3.73bn in 2014.

It is thought that a driving factor in the massive jump in revenue that is expected is due to the ubiquity of the Apple iPhone4.

“The Apple iPhone 4 was a key milestone for the MEMS market, marking the first cell phone to use a MEMS gyroscope, and one of the first mobile handsets to use two MEMS microphones for noise suppression,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at iSuppli.

“This has had an enormous ‘me-too’ impact on the rest of the cell phone industry, with a flood of companies offering MEMS-equipped handsets.”

Previously only five cell phone models actually utilised MEMS gyroscopes, though this year will see the introduction of more than 45 phones and tablets, most of which will be based on Android OS.

Indeed, like many markets, it is expected that tablets will have a big impact on the future revenueds of the MEMS industry.

This year’s CES saw tablets from Motorola, Acer and other featuring MEMS accelerometers, gyroscopes, bulk acoustic wave (BAW) filters and pressure sensors.

Therefore it is entirely believable that tablet will become the second-largest application for MEMS in the consumer and mobile area in 2014.

Bouchaud believes that the MEMS devices will also increasingly find their way into our lives in a number of different ways over the coming years.

According to iSuppli, demand for MEMS is increasingly coming from the economically advancing BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Apparently the stimulus package provided by the Chinese government aimed at promoting fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) will stimulate demand for optical MEMS for fiber optical telecommunications, expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent for the 2009-2014 period.

“The major issues facing society in the 21st century—such as energy, the environment and the aging and health of the population—increasingly are impacting the MEMS market,” Bouchaud said.

“For example, MEMS sensors are being used in the energy sector to help find and tap new energy sources—such as geophones for oil/gas exploration, inertial sensors for measurement-while-drilling, or to maximize current energy resources via improved industrial processes, efficient residential heating and accurate billing systems.”

“But MEMS technology is also helping to address other issues facing society, such as age and obesity, or by offering less invasive monitoring of the elderly or enabling affordable and continuous diagnostics for better, more comfortable drug delivery.”

Qualcomm to invest $1 billion in Taiwanese display plant

US-based firm Qualcomm will invest $1billion in the construction of a MEMS display plant in Taiwan according to an announcement by the Ministry of Economic Affairs today.

It is thought that the move will help ensure that Qualcomm are well positioned to tap into growing demand for portable devices such as such as e-readers by investing in the new plant at Hsinchu Science Park in northern Taiwan.

The new display plant will use power saving Mirasol technology to focus of the production of smaller panels which are suitable for mobile phones and navigational devices, as well as e-readers, according to Reuters.

The plant will occupy a seven hectare plot land, though it is unclear exactly when construction will begin.

Qualcomm, the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile chips, will help boost display technology and create job opportunities in the country which is also home to Chimei Innolux and AUO – the world’s third and fourth largest LCD makers.

Qualcomm will develop the Mirasol technology which enables feautures  that are aimed at e-reader devices, such as lower power consumption and no backlighting, in a bid to rival firms such as Acer, Asustek and Delta Electronics which have also recently released electronic reader that allows users to download and read books and magazines.

The firm has previously been involved in the development of the the MEMS technology in a joint venture with Taiwanese firm Cheng Uei Precision Industry to manufacture Mirasol display on a smaller scale for handsets.

Analog triumphs over Knowles’ MEMS mikes

Signal processing giant Analog Devices said that the International Trade Association (ITC) has ruled in its favour in a complaint brought against Knowles Electronics.

A judge ruled that Knowles infringed several claims from its patent 7,364,942 relating to its wafer anti-stiction patents.

The ITC, said Analog, will issue an exclusion order banning Knowles and its channel from importing and selling microphones in the USA. As well as complaining to the ITC, Analog also has a civil lawsuit pending against Knowles in the state of Delaware.

Analog said that Knowles claims on patents relating to MEMS microphone packaging patents were rejected by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Knowles had nothing to say on the matter.

GlobalFoundries collaborates with IME for MEMS

GlobalFoundries has announced a partnership with The Institute of Microelectronics (IME) in Singapore to develop MEMS Capacitive Sensor Platform Technology with the aim of creating power-efficient and highly sensitive motion sensing applications.

IME, a research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries made the announcement that they will be collaborating on research into MEMS technology that will be used in the automotive, aerospace and consumer electronics industries.

The MEMS capacitive sensor technology is increasingly common in consumer electronics, performing a role in the way that users interact with mobile communication devices and 3D virtual media gaming systems.

The deal will see GlobalFoundries becoming responsible for the preliminary platform design specifications and process flow. IME’s role will be to focus on the development of a modular and scalable capacitive sensor technology platform with standardised process modules and process integration scheme that is based its own advanced MEMS fabrication facilities and tools.

It is thought that IME’s multi wafers bonding technology will be a key part of the joint project which will see the two firms aim to grab a slice of an industry that will be worth an estimated $16 billion by 2015.

Automotive MEMS sensor market to exceed record shipments in 2010

The market for automotive microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensors is expected to expand considerably in 2010, according to market research, following a downturn in 2009.

It is thought that the market will hit record size this year with shipments of automotive MEMS sensors expected to reach 662.3 million units, up 32.1 percent from 501.2 million in 2009, meaning that the end-of-year levels will even exceed the pre-financial crisis 2007 figure of 640 million units, according to iSuppli.

“The recovery in automotive MEMS shipments represents a happy turnaround from the depressed levels of 2009 when shipments cratered and reached a nadir, and the years ahead will provide additional room for expansion,” said Richard Dixon, senior analyst for MEMS and sensors at iSuppli.

It is thought that growth will slow in 2011 following such a boom in recovery this year, though it is predicted that shipments will still climb 7.3 percent, before growing again year on year until reaching approximately 13 percent in 2014.

One of the contributing factors to the swift growth of automotive MEMS is the use of sensors in cars which support mandated safety technologies such as electronic stability control (ESC) and tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).  MEMS sensors also have a wide array of applications outside of the automotive industry, including PS3 controllers iPods and even Segways. But one of the primary applications are features for safety systems within automobiles.

The US and Europe have both adopted legislation on safety systems with Australia, Canada and others following suit, meaning that the industry is seeing accelerated overall adoption rates around the world.  Similar mandates are also beginning to be adopted in South Korea and Japan, the extra opportunity for both ESC and TPMS for automotive MEMS suppliers in these two countries potentially amounting to $120 million in the next five years.

China will also create substantial demand for automotive MEMS.  Though it uses around 50 percent less in low and mid-ranged vehicles, China will see penetration increase in powertrain applications in order to reduce carbon emissions and as safety sensors for additional airbags and ESC systems.

New applications which are helping boost automotive MEMS sensor growth are gas sensors which enable greater control of air quality inside a vehicle, infrared thermopiles which monitor temperature, microbolometres to aid night vision systems and MEMS oscillators that can boost rear-view cameras.

More consumer-oriented MEMS suppliers are also expected to move into the automotive market, for example STMicroelectronics is producing a high-g accelerometer for the airbag market having previously been more focused on applications such as car alarms and navigation. 

The widening of the market in this sense is expected to lead to price pressures and new cost structures within the industry.

Dixon notes however that sensor fusion could be a contentious issue as, while the sales of accelerometers used to measure incline as part of an electronic parking brake (EPB) will continue to accelerate in Europe, EPB prospects are also dampened by ESC systems, which already contain the 2-axis accelerometers capable of delivering the required inclination signal for parking brakes.

“Sensor fusion uses existing sensor signals and adds application algorithms to augment existing systems, such as ESC with features like hill-start-assist functionality, for instance,” Dixon said. “This is a bane for sensor suppliers, which must rely on opportunities that involve standalone systems to provide additional sensors. On the other hand, inclination-based car alarms do not access accelerometers in ESC systems and require standalone accelerometers,” he added.

GloFo partners with SVTC for more MEMS

Global Foundries has its sights set on MEMS – micro electro mechanical systems – which are used for sensors and mechanical elements, integrated on silicon. It has today announced a strategic partnership with SVTC Technologies to speed up its route to becoming the biggest player in MEMS foundry.

MEMS are needed in everything – from smartphones, to inkjet printers and applications in the aerospace, medical, defence, automotive and industrial sectors plus more. GloFo wants to be a leader and is making an aggressive push. SVTC is going to give GloFo access to its full-scale development facilities – meaning it can get going on designing and developing silicon-based technology, faster.

CEO at SVTC, Bert Bruggeman, reveals there’s plenty of opportunity in the MEMS market: “The market is growing dramatically, but fabless designers currently have limited options for bringing their MEMS designs to market in high volumes.” The partnership between GloFo and SVTC means designs and development initiatives will be pushed out faster.

GloFo is focusing on three applications in particular, accelerometers, gyroscopes and RF MEMS. RF MEMS handle multi-band operation on mobiles. GloFo’s main MEMS capabilities are found at its Fab 3E plant in Singapore, a country that’s gaining traction on the MEMS market.

Meanwhile, GlobalFoundries has also announced three design services companies to join as partners – Infotech Enterprises Limited, Verisilicon and Wipro. The idea is that all three will be able to assist in its time-to-volume for systems-on-chip (SoC) and advanced technology nodes.

They join other certified and active partners including eSilicon and Open Silicon. 

The new partners will benefit by gaining early access to GloFo technology. GloFo will benefit from development and designs – VeriSilicon for example offers application oriented SoC platforms as well as software stacks and a healthy R&D team. Same goes for WiPro, which will contribute designs to SoC.

GloFo takes aim at MEMS market

Chip foundry GloFo has its eyes set on making waves in the MEMS market.

What are MEMS? They’re micro electro mechanical systems –  used for actuators, sensors and mechanical elements all integrated on silicon.

According to Rakesh Kumar, director of MEMS at GloFo, the opportunities to become a provider is because there’s a huge range of applications for such devices in the industrial, consumer, telecom, aerospace, medical, automotive and defence industries.

You can find MEMS for accelerometers, gyroscopes, microphones, pressure sensors, mini-mirrors, inkjet heads and the medical and consumer industries are pushing their development. Kumar said that GloFo is creating surface and bulk micromachining and wants to be a major player by 2012.

It wants to take the opportunity of challenging small specialist MEMS foundries which, er founder on their limited economies of scale and will use its 200mm fabs as a basis for the uniting of CMOS and machining. The initiative will therefore be based out of Singapore.  The former Chartered Semi has been working on MEMS for some years, and there will be risk production by the third quarter of 2011.

It will concentrate on MEMS for accelerometers, gyroscopes and RF MEMS and so far has a roadmap extending to 2014.

By focusing on fabless MEMS companies it wants to become the supplier for designs its customers need building.

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