MEMS Testing and Reliability 2012 – Session 1

It was my pleasure to attend the MEMS Testing and Reliability 2012 conference to see the considerable progress made in these areas as microelectromechanical system (MEMS) based product volumes accelerate. We may soon get to the point where it will be the rare consumer product that does not include a MEMS device bringing us closer to the possibility of a $1 trillion MEMS market. But in order to achieve greater adoption of the technology, cost and quality goals will need to be met through testing and reliability, the focus of this conference produced by MEMS Journal and MicroElectronics Packaging and Test Council (MEPTEC).

Session 1

Mario Correa (MEMS Test Engineering Manager of Fairchild Semiconductor) started with “Evolution of MEMS Test Solutions” reviewing how test equipment and processes have evolved from the 1960’s to today. There have been major changes to test methods developed for non-MEMS sensors first used with military and aerospace MEMS sensors in the late 1960’s where the annual volume was measured in thousands of units to those used today for over three billion units shipped yearly to the consumer electronics market. It has been a challenge keeping up with the high triple digit growth rates from 2009 to 2012 including gyroscopes +189%, microphones +347%, and digital compasses +778%. MEMS accelerometers grew “only” +78% during this period. (Growth data per Yole)

These changes include Continue reading “MEMS Testing and Reliability 2012 – Session 1”

Coupling & Crosstalk: Painting Lessons

Joseph and Della Ready to Paint

Coupling & Crosstalk is my new column in the MEPTEC Report. This column appears in the Fall 2012 edition on page 10.

Electronic coupling is the transfer of energy from one circuit or medium to another. Sometimes it is intentional and sometimes not (crosstalk). I hope that this column by mixing technology and general observations is thought provoking and “couples” with your thinking. Most of the time I will stick to technology but occasional crosstalk diversions like this one may deliver a message closer to home!

Painting Lessons

It is time for our nine-year old twins to have their own bedrooms. The first step was to paint the rooms since the last time they were painted was well over ten years ago. Throughout the process I was reminded of many management and life lessons. Is this a worthwhile do-it-yourself (DIY) project? Does this first question set off the alarm bells? Can you Continue reading “Coupling & Crosstalk: Painting Lessons”

Thinking Big: $1 Trillion MEMS Market – Part 2

Part 1 described Janusz Bryzek‘s ambitious goal of a $1 trillion market for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) that was the focus of the MicroElectronics Packaging and Test Council (MEPTEC) 10th annual MEMS Technology Symposium. In addition, sensor swarms, road mapping and market numbers were covered. Challenges, example applications, and key takeaways are discussed here along with a final score card on the $1 T market.

Continue reading “Thinking Big: $1 Trillion MEMS Market – Part 2”

Thinking Big: $1 Trillion MEMS Market – Part 1

Usual business advice includes thinking big to win big. Some organizations create Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Others like to find new markets that are underserved and grow to be number one. The semiconductor industry has Moore’s Law – the premise that the minimum cost point is achieved by doubling the number of transistors per chip every two years – driving it forward for almost fifty years.

Janusz Bryzek set a dramatic and ambitious goal of $1 trillion sales for the microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) market in 2022. Even though the MEMS market is expected to have “only” $12 billion in revenue in 2012, he isn’t being called a fool. Having cofounded eight seminal Silicon Valley MEMS companies and currently the Vice President of MEMS Development at Fairchild Semiconductor (which recently acquired his last company), Janusz is taken quite seriously.

Yes, at last week’s MicroElectronics Packaging and Test Council (MEPTEC) 10th annual MEMS Technology Symposium there were some who  Continue reading “Thinking Big: $1 Trillion MEMS Market – Part 1”

Big Numbers – The Semiconductor Supply Chain

…To make sense of the big picture, one needs to follow the money and then head to China.

Ed Pausa the primary author of PricewaterhouseCooper’s (PwC) recently published report “Continued Growth: China’s Impact on the Semiconductor Industry – 2011 Update” provided an overview at this month’s MEPTEC luncheon. His presentation was a helpful tour to start digesting this impressive report, now it its seventh annual update. The report runs 112 pages in length and is packed with figures, data and most importantly analysis. Building a cohesive picture from many disparate data sources is a major undertaking and PwC should be applauded for making available this excellent work.

After listening to this presentation and reading the report, I find two items that really stand out as primary market forces. Unraveling the convoluted web of the semiconductor supply chain to examine these items will lead to greater understanding of the industry. They are, Continue reading “Big Numbers – The Semiconductor Supply Chain”

Semiconductor Packaging: 2.5D, 3D, and Beyond!

MEPTEC's 2.5D, 3D and Beyond Packaging Conference

The MEPTEC2.5D, 3D and Beyond – Bringing 3D Integration to Packaging Mainstream” conference was a mixed-bag. Yes, it is always exciting to hear about new suppliers and progress. But it is disconcerting to realize that the price of progress is an ongoing burden on our industry’s supply chain.

Subramanian Iyer (IBM) and Theresa Sze (Oracle) started with Continue reading “Semiconductor Packaging: 2.5D, 3D, and Beyond!”

Semiconductor Wafer Test Technology and Trends: Lessons for MEMS Test Engineers

Lessons for MEMS Test Engineers
Click image to download presentation

The MEMS Testing and Reliability 3rd Annual Conference gets high marks: excellent speakers focused on an emerging topic and it was large enough to have “critical mass” while allowing everyone to interact. It was well produced by MEMS Investor Journal and MEPTEC.

My presentation, “Semiconductor Wafer Test Technology and Trends: Lessons for MEMS Test Engineers“, covered the differences between testing semiconductors and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). I reviewed the progress in test technology over the last fifty plus years, from simple cantilever probe cards to large full wafer contact probe cards, developed to reduce the cost of test.

I discussed lower cost solutions that appear counter-intuitive since they require increased technical and operational complexity. Challenges of testing MEMS devices while still on wafer (prior to packaging and singulation) were discussed along with a review of MEMS solutions at this year’s IEEE Semiconductor Wafer Test Workshop.

With the proper skills, experience, and perspective it is possible to avoid “re-inventing the wheel” and to develop the best strategy to profitably introduce new technologies to high volume manufacturing.