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Thread: Will TSM Become Dominant MEMS foundry?

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    Will TSM Become Dominant MEMS foundry?

    With STM dominating MEMS and increasing their business, TSMC actually had a drop in sales of MEMS. With Morris Chang stating that MEMS are one of the greatest future opportunities and being the leading foundry in technology and volume with the most sophisticated packaging technologies one would think TSM would be the dominant player in the industry, especially with the large customer base. Instead their MEMS business actually shrank year over year currently. The only reason I can see for this is that they don't want to stretch their financial, engineering and fab resources any farther. With the CAGR growth rate over 11%, I can't see TSM overlooking it for long. Any thoughts, comments or observations on this and the MEMS market in general would be appreciated. I feel the MEMS market will be as large as the semi market with combination semi/mems devices having the dominant share which would make TSM the logical leader in the near future, just from their current customer base.

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    Blogger Daniel Payne's Avatar
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    The Wikipedia page on MEMS foundries lists some 32 vendors:

    List of MEMS foundries - Wikipedia

    Here's a top 20 list of MEMS producers compiled in 2013:

    Top 20 MEMS foundries

    From what I have read MEMS devices don't need bleeding edge process technology, so there's no real advantage from TSMC over the smaller players, unless we're talking volume production size.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Payne View Post
    The Wikipedia page on MEMS foundries lists some 32 vendors:

    List of MEMS foundries - Wikipedia

    Here's a top 20 list of MEMS producers compiled in 2013:

    Top 20 MEMS foundries

    From what I have read MEMS devices don't need bleeding edge process technology, so there's no real advantage from TSMC over the smaller players, unless we're talking volume production size.
    Dan, don't you think mems will get very sophisticated quickly and evolve into very complex socs that combine prossesing, sensors and devices in a single complex package or even be a complete extreme micro.robot for.medical use?

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    Blogger Daniel Payne's Avatar
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    Arthur,
    It's my understanding that most MEMS chips are separate from the SoC, then combined at the package or PCB levels because it is more cost effective to design a MEMS for 180nm while the SoC is separately fabricated at 28nm or smaller process nodes.



    Source: Nature


    Yole Development is a great source for all things MEMS:

    Yole Developpement Press - MEMS & Sensors

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    Last edited by Daniel Payne; 07-30-2018 at 03:33 PM.
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    Dan, I still see where packaging will have to evolve to a level not yet even closely reached. The myriad of uses of very, very sophisticated mems, combined with processing and a source of power or way to receive it wirelessly is going to be an industry of staggering size, otherwise Morris Chang would not have said MEMS are one of the greatest opportunities of the future. Technology has come a long way since 2016. Below is a link to a previous post with references. This market will be a very large part of the demand for semi and a good possibility as large as the semi market itself. This is my forum with comments from 2016.

    Mems is Where the Growth is

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    At the moment there are some big classes of MEMS where vendors have key IP. Some are fabless, some are not. Not only are processes not leading edge but scale can be quite different. You can get the sensor package for a phone - 3D acceleration, 3D rotation and 3D magnetometer, in specialized pakages totalling maybe 40 sq mm. That is about 150,000 8 inch wafers per 100M phones. That is one month off one line for TSMC, yet each is a specialized production of one of the highest volume items. I am not aware of any other MEMS market that comes close to that total silicon area, so whoever is providing fab services for those is going to be leading. The skills they have will be very different from CMOS. They will be tricks with crystal orientation, huge etches, adding materials which are not needed for CMOS, different kinds of dielectrics, bonding, etc.
    In revenue terms TI may be up there with DLP, which lost the home TV market but is still in use for video projectors, high end devices in theaters, and new applications like 3D printing. Clearly highly specialized.
    There are probably a bunch of things in vehicles. Temperature sensors, tire pressure, microphones. And some industrial monitors. Variations on accelerometer and pressure/weighing cover a lot of territory.
    TSMC simply is not deeply embedded in that IP, and the foundries which do this work have probably done some really weird tricks to become the best at it by now.

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