LONDON – X-Fab Silicon Foundries AG (Erfurt, Germany) has announced a manufacturing process for 3-D inertial sensors based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The company claims it is the first open-platform MEMS 3-D inertial sensor process available directly from a high-volume pure-play foundry.
As a result fabless chip companies and others will be able to apply their own design, or use an X-Fab design partner, and run wafer volumes without process development.
Early this year fabless inertial MEMS company InvenSense Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.), which uses TSMC and Globalfoundries as its sources of manufacturing, said it was opening up of its proprietary Nasiri process to others on a licensing basis.
The X-Fab 3-D sensor process is suitable for applications ranging from mobile devices, consumer goods, games and toys, automotive, robotics, industrial and medical equipment, X-Fab said. It allows the making of 3-D inertial sensors based on accelerometers and gyroscope and one-axis and two-axis designs can be produced in the same process. Accelerometer and gyroscope designs also can be placed side by side on a single chip made with the same process, enabling the manufacture of a six degrees of freedom (6DOF) inertial measurement unit (IMU).
"X-Fab's open-platform processes launch a new era for the MEMS industry," said Iain Rutherford, X-Fab's MEMS business line manager, in a statememt. "We are shifting the paradigm from the limiting 'one product, one process' rule to the open platform approach of giving any company access to a world-class quality process that can be used for multiple applications. It enables our customers to realize their goals in record time."
The process includes a library of features based on single-crystal silicon for inertial masses and drive combs, proprietary buried contact technology that supports complex metal interconnects using a single metal layer, low parasitic capacitance and EMI protection. The 3-D inertial sensor process complements established 1-D/2-D inertial sensor, pressure sensor and infra-red thermopile open-platform processes, and its ready-made IP blocks for 2G, 10G and 100G accelerometers.
The process technology is available for engineering services and early access prototyping, with full qualification and complete design rule access coming early in 2013, X-Fab said.
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