Infineon is entering its fourth generation of MEMS microphone dies and sells basically three different models -- one with the least acoustical noise (66-to-67 dB) one with an ultra-small size and a third model optimized to be the lowest cost. Each of those models can also be mated to either an analog-output ASIC or a digital-output ASIC.
"As far as signal to noise ratio [SNR] we are increasing that about 2 dB per year and our roadmap calls on us to continue at this rate of improvement," Robert Helm who is heading the Silicon Microphone business at Infineon told EE Times. "The fastest growing part of the market is innovation driven, which needs multiple microphones with the highest signal to noise ratios for things like noise cancellation, linearity and very low clipping at high sound pressures for loud noises. In fact, I have seen very advanced smartphones with six or seven MEMS microphones for very sophisticated acoustics including beam forming."
However, unlike others, Helm's sees no consolidation on the horizon, but rather that the markets for all three models -- highest performance, smallest size and least cost -- will continue to grow. Some customers, presumably making wearables, come to Infineon and say "this is the maximum size I can allow and what is the maximum performance I can get in this limited size," Helm told EE Times.
Infineon, however, does face a few hurdles if it is to continue its skyrocketing growth for the last three years. For one thing, its best customer, AAC which has a MEMS microphone in the iPhone 5s, bought a 50 percent stake in MEMSTech, which has not impacted its relationship with Infineon yet but is clearly intended to give AAC at least a second source. Also Infineon's customer, Gettop, is also second-sourcing die from MEMSensing.