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Challenges of Fabless-MEMS Foundries for Addressing Low-Cost, High-Volume Consumer Products
Keywords: MEMS, Fabrication, Consumer
The consumer market is one of the fastest growing segments of the electronics industry, fueled by many new electronic gadgets and increasing demand in Asia. MEMS products have historically been very slow to penetrate the mass market due to their inability to meet cost and size requirements at required performance. The key reason for this shortcoming has been the lack of economy-of-scale in MEMS fabrication. Two of the key challenges fabless MEMS companies have faced trying to bring new and innovative products into the market are manufacturing capability and production capacity. The consumer market is known for its aggressive pricing and the need for high volume production. It generally requires several generations of design, fabrication, packaging, and product reliability for MEMS components to make their way successfully into high volume consumer products. This is a slow transition that has more in common with the introduction of new technologies than MEMS’ counterpart, the fabless semiconductor industry, which is able to take a product from design to full volume production in a few years. This paper describes the need for more standardization of MEMS fabrication processes and CMOS-like MEMS fabrication lines. The fabrication platform must incorporate the latest developments in wafer-scale integration and wafer-scale packaging to address the most important challenges of high volume production: size and cost. Furthermore, fabrication lines need to provide cost-per-mask standards in par with CMOS fabrication and have the capacity to scale to high volume. As a working model, this paper will examine and describe InvenSense’s MEMS processes. InvenSense has been able to successfully demonstrate a fabrication platform that is capable of integrating several MEMS devices with electronics and incorporating wafer-scale packaging for its gyroscope products being sold into the consumer market, at a cost that is an order of magnitude lower than any other MEMS gyroscope providers.
Steve Nasiri, CEO
Santa Clara, CA

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