PORTLAND, Ore.—The micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) chip market is booming along with the high-profile consumer electronics devices using them, propelling a $1.5 billion MEMS chip market in 2010, according to market forecaster iSuppli Corp.
Cell phones dominate this growth, led by the phenomenal successes of Apple's iPhone and other smartphones which copy its sensor complement, according to iSuppli (El Segundo, Calif.) MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes are already used in digital cameras, gaming controllers and automobiles, but by 2014 Apple's iPad will have pioneered the new touchscreen tablet space, helping to propel the MEMS chip market to over $3 billion by 2014, according to the firm.
MEMS chips revenue will grow about 23 percent in 2010 from last year's $1.3 billion, powered by continued demand from its traditional markets—printers, automotive, medical, communications, aerospace and defense—according to iSuppli. However, mobile consumer devices are growing faster than the other segments and are projected by iSuppli to continue increasing their market share until they becoming the largest MEMS market segment by 2014.
Cell phones adopting accelerometers and gyroscopes are the fastest growing market segment, boosting consumer sales in devices which already include iPods, remote controls and portable navigation units. Also the fast growing eBook and touchscreen-tablet markets are also adopting MEMS sensors, accounting for $105 million of the over $3 billion market by 2014.
MEMS sensors and actuators in cell phones, however, will continue to dominate with 53 percent of the market, or $821 million in 2010, according to iSuppli. However, other consumer devices will start using more MEMS chips over the next few years including projectors, laptops, hard disks, game controller and digital still cameras, with new categories like eBooks and touchscreen tablets gaining ground, the firm said.
Accelerometers remain the fastest selling MEMS chips, but other types of MEMS devices are slated to grow more quickly over the next four years, including gyroscopes, BAW filters, microphones and displays, according to iSuppli. New types of MEMS devices just being introduced will also add significantly to the overall market, including pico-projectors, RF MEMS switches and varactors. New MEMS devices are predicted to grow from $33 million last year to over $1.3 billion by 2014, iSuppli said.
A lion's share of the growth in MEMS this year has come from accelerometers. A few MEMS gyroscope designs are also now available, with more to follow early next year. What is impressive is their adoption in the automobile industry for active and semi-active chassis for road roughness compensation, roll-over sensing (needs a combination of accelerometers and gyro's), seat belt activation, engine knock sensors, etc. For the last one, with appropriate frequency response / bandwidth, accelerometers can make engine knocks virtually undetectable to the driver.
What was not clear from the article was the collateral sales enabled using MEMS technology and processes. 3D design has been used in MEMS from day one and the main stream chip industry is only now beginning to adopt some of the technology and process byproducts. For stacked chips with/without TSV's, MEMS has a lot to offer in both design and manufacturing.
What was also not clear is the discussion on the product sales with integrated MEMS and logic/memory products on the same substrates or in sensor-integrated 3D stacks. There have been couple of products released with much more than just a sensor and these deserve some coverage.
What's great about mems apparently they can use last generation or two foundry technology to manufacture these micro devices. Recycle old foundry equipment. Very cool. An accelerometer in every electronic device. Everything becomes a Wii paddle. When your wife throws her cell phone at you, an alarm in your cell phone can go off to duck.
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