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Foundry Files

Bringing MEMS to the Mainstream

  • By: Communications
  • April 3, 2012
  • Category: Technology

A GLOBALFOUNDRIES employee loading MEMS wafers into an automated wafer bonding system.

2011 was a challenging year for the semiconductor industry by almost any measure. A powerful combination of global economic malaise and two major natural disasters were contributing factors to the nearly flat growth seen by the overall market for integrated circuits. Yet in spite of these headwinds, some industry segments saw strong growth in 2011, driven in large part by consumers’ seemingly endless demand for smart mobile devices and consumer electronics with new feature sets.

One such segment is the market for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). In 2011 the MEMS market grew 17 percent to reach $10.2 billion, according to market research firm Yole Developpement. MEMS are found in applications ranging from automotive sensors and inkjet printers to high-end smartphones and gaming controllers. However, MEMS manufacturing has been primarily confined to specialists who practice a “one process, one product” approach. To allow the MEMS market to continue its rapid growth, GLOBALFOUNDRIES is pursuing an aggressive strategy to bring MEMS from a specialty manufacturing platform to high-volume production by focusing on standardization similar to advanced CMOS processes.

One of our key MEMS customers is InvenSense, a leading provider of MEMS products for motion interface technology. InvenSense products can be found in applications including smartphones, tablets, gaming devices, optical image stabilization, and remote controls for Smart TVs. The company recently announced that GLOBALFOUNDRIES has completed the installation of their patented and proprietary fabrication platform and that we are fully qualified for high volume shipments. In the announcement, InvenSense Founder and CEO Steve Nasiri highlighted the importance of bringing MEMS to the mainstream through a high-volume foundry manufacturing approach:

Many of today’s MEMS companies have been stuck with their old ways in making MEMS for the past 25 to 30 years and missed the opportunities to bring truly game changing fabrications and product innovations to the MEMS industry and to their customer. [W]e believe that the InvenSense fabrication platform is a game changing technology that is expected to transform the way the MEMS industry will bring innovations and new products to the market into the future.

At GLOBALFOUNDRIES, our MEMS capabilities are based primarily at our Fab 3E facility in Singapore. We have a strong track record of MEMS manufacturing and many CMOS-based technologies that can be utilized by MEMS. We are now prototyping several customers’ products and ramping to volume production in our MEMS line. Be on the lookout for more details and news about our MEMS manufacturing strategy in the coming months.

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