The MEMS Executive Congress (Nov 2 to 3, 2011) held in Monterey, CA was filled with optimistic and rosy views of the future for MEMS. This year’s event attracted 225 attendees – a 25% increase. There were companies in attendance that covered the breadth of the MEMS supply chain: MEMS vendors, manufacturing equipment, materials suppliers, modeling, tools, etc. Large and small players alike were represented.
Semico Research presented on the panel featuring market analysts. The consensus on the panel and by many in the audience is that MEMS is a high growth market being driven by high volume applications in consumer electronics, most notably smart phones. Semico brought a fresh new perspective. MEMS are becoming more main stream. The market dynamics for MEMS will more closely resemble the rest of the semiconductor market. The high volume consumer market is a commodity market. Therefore, the MEMS market needs to develop a more cohesive ecosystem. This would allow companies to leverage standard processes and tools for volume production. This will reduce costs and speed up time to market.
On other panels the issues of the ecosystem and the challenges of improving time to market were addressed. There were differences of opinion. On the panel for MEMS Foundry Models there were opposing views on reusing CMOS fabs being able to lower costs for IDMs and large IC foundries. One issue that was put forward was that pure-play foundries compete via engineering know how and an “ecosystem” approach.
Among some of the topics that were raised during audience discussion is whether or not more intelligence should be integrated into the MEMS controller. Increasing integration of MEMS sensors, such as various motion sensors, there will be more data. Some attendees favored delivering the data to the host processor and embed the algorithms in that device. Others were calling for the IP to be embedded in more advanced MEMS controllers.
The highlight of the MEMS Congress was the technology showcase. There were seven companies demonstrating exciting new applications using existing MEMS devices. The winner was Recon Instruments with ski goggles that have a heads up display that provide the user with various data. This can also be applied to other HUD’s for other sports.
The MEMS Executive Congress featured lively and informative discussions. These occurred during the panel sessions, as well as in the hall and over dinner. The MEMS market has yet to mature, many issues are still in a state of flux. This is a gathering of individuals who are working energetically on bringing exciting new technology to the masses. The exchange of ideas and opinions is vital for the development of the MEMS market.
Chief Technology Officer