SAN FRANCISCO—IHS iSuppli said Monday (Jan. 9) that its teardown services unit identified a radio frequency microelectromechanical system (RF MEMS) device in a new Samsung cellphone, marking the first known use of such a part in a volume-shipping product.
According to IHS, the discovery marks the starting gun for an RF MEMS market that is set to grow by a factor of 200 by the year 2015.
Samsung’s Focus Flash Windows smartphone includes an RF MEMS device from WiSpry Inc., IHS said. RF MEMS devices like the WiSpry part can provide a range of benefits in cellphones, including the reduction of signal interruptions and dropped calls, faster data transmission rates and improved design and power efficiency, according to the firm.
The Focus Flash has been shipping in the U.S. since last November. The handset's use of an RF MEMs will pave the way for other cellphones to adopt RF MEMS, causing global sales of such devices to rise to $150 million in 2015, up from just $720,000 in 2011, according to IHS.
"RF MEMS have been promoted by suppliers as the next big thing in cellphones for nearly a decade," said Jérémie Bouchaud, senior principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS, in a statement.
Bouchaud said that though they have been shipping since 2005 in low volume for instrumentation applications, interest among cellphone makers in the use of RF MEMS didn’t pick up until mid-2010, when users began to report problems with signal reception with the iPhone 4 after they held the device in certain ways. The so-called “death grip” problem can be alleviated through the use RF MEMS, Bouchaud said.
"When combined with the other benefits delivered by RF MEMS, the market for these parts is set for rapid growth in the coming years," Bouchaud said.
The IHS teardown of the Focus Flash revealed a MEMS-based antenna tuning module labeled A2101 in a die-on-LGA package near the antenna connectors, the firm said. The tunable impedance match (TIM) device, as WiSpry calls it, consists of a network of inductors combined with WiSpry’s CMOS-integrated, digitallytunable and low-loss MEMS capacitors, IHS said. The WiSpry single-chip design integrates logic circuits/serial interface for control, on-board high-voltage charge pump and high-voltage MEMS drivers, together with fully encapsulated digital MEMS capacitors on a single chip, IHS said.