The MEMS Business is Growing

Back in 2000, the total MEMS market was already growing strongly, reaching $5 billion revenue for slightly over 1 billion units. By 2014, MEMS had become an $11.1 billion business.AtYole Dveloppement (Yole),we expect a $20 billion business in 2020 with 30 billion units, saidsJean-Christophe Eloy, president & CEO, Yole.

This expansion started with Knowles microphones in 2003 and with STMicroelectronics accelerometers in 2005, both products targeting consumer applications. Since 2009, consumer applications have enjoyed significant volume growth and according to Yoles latest analysis,Status of the MEMS Industry(May 2015), around 17 percent CAGR (in units) is expected between 2015 and 2020. However strong price pressure, -5 percent a year at best, will result in 3 percent CAGR revenue growth over the same time period.

The sensorization of our life is just beginning. Much expected growth in MEMS sensors comes from wearable and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. Another interesting phenomenon is that the automotive industry will also drive the MEMS industry, integrating ever more sensors. Indeed, making cars autonomous is the target. But growth in these applications will mean incredible price decreases, with a production cost of a few cents only for some devices.

For example, it costs just $0.025 to produce a Bosch BMA355 accelerometer (Source:Bosch Sensortec BMA355 3-Axis MEMS Accelerometer reverse costing analysis, Jul. 2014, System Plus Consulting),details Jean-Christophe Eloy. Motion sensing functions are becoming as cheap as temperature sensors were a few years ago.

The solutions include larger volumes but also integrating multiple sensors in a system or even in a single package. This combo approach is strongest for consumer applications with closed combos for motion sensing and open combos for environmental sensing, including humidity, pressure and gas sensors.

In parallel with existing application growth, at Yole, we believe that new MEMS devices are arriving. Gas and chemical sensors are based on semiconductor technologies. MEMS technology can reduce their size by as much as a quarter and also reduces cost, thus expanding the market. Our analysts believe MEMS devices will be increasingly used where applications have form-factor and cost issues, for example in the consumer and wearable segments.

In another part of the MEMS industry, MEMS micromirrors have a new interest from the market for optical datacom, delivering impressive growth for Calient. MEMS micromirrors also provide real added value for human-machine interfaces, a trend confirmed by theIntels acquisition of Lemoptix. Yoles analysis also shows more industrial applications like lithography, high speed printing, and front lighting for automotive, as well as multiple other high-end applications. So, according to Yoles analysts, micromirrors are poised for rapid growth.

The evolution of the MEMS industry is inducing changes in the market structure. Some past market leaders are now struggling to grow, Yole has found. Competition is still very open. From the analysis of the top 250 MEMS players Yole does every year, the2014 TOP 30 MEMS players rankingshows a clear emergence of what could be a future MEMS Titan: Robert Bosch. Robert Boschs MEMS revenues have risen by 20 percent to top $1.2 billion, partly driven by Apple iPhone 6 sales. Meanwhile, the gap between STMicroelectronics and other MEMS companies has widened to more than $400M. Compared to 2013, the top five remains unchanged but Robert Bosch now accounts for one-third of the $3.8 billion MEMS revenues shared by the top five MEMS companies, who in turn share around one third of the total MEMS business.

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