Growing faster than the MEMS device market, MEMS packaging presents interesting business opportunities

With a higher compound annual growth rate (CAGR) than the MEMS market, MEMS packaging is an important business opportunity for outsourced semiconductor assembly and test companies (OSATs). However, they will have to adapt their technology portfolios to answer future challenges.

As shown in figure below, the value of the MEMS packaging market will grow from $2.56B in 2016 to $6.46B in 2022, a 16.7% CAGR. According to recent Yole Développement report MEMS Packaging 2017, much of this is driven by the complexity associated with the move to fifth generation (5G) wireless networking standards and the accompanying increased demand for radio-frequency (RF) filters in 4G/5G. The largest growth in MEMS devices will therefore be for RF MEMS, specifically bulk acoustic wave (BAW) filters, followed by optical MEMS, then acoustic and ultrasonic MEMS.


(Source: MEMS Packaging 2017 report, Yole Développement, Oct. 2017)

The wide range of different MEMS designs and manufacturing technologies with no standardization creates many challenges for the packaging industry. There are different package configurations, in open and closed format. There are also many different application constraints, from the need for low cost packaging for consumer applications to the ability to withstand high temperature and harsh environments for automotive or aeronautics packaging. Besides its complexity, MEMS packaging is only 5% of the total packaging revenue split between integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) and OSATs. OSATs remain involved because MEMS devices are a real opportunity to get into the smartphone and automotive businesses and because price is key.

Depending on the type of MEMS, either IDMs or OSATs are responsible for the packaging, as shown in the following table. The leaders are ASE and Amkor, who respectively command 27% and 23% shares of the market, followed by JCET/STATS ChipPAC, which is then followed by many other companies, each with less than 10% market share. OSATs today capture 55% of the MEMS packaging market value, while IDMs capture 45%. Large RF MEMS companies such as Broadcom do their own packaging. IDMs also package complex MEMS devices such as microbolometers or micromirrors as their volumes are not large, their packaging is complex and dedicated test strategies have to be set up. The limited number of players and low volumes don’t justify subcontracting at OSATs. On the other hand, for large volume applications such as consumer and automotive, packaging is cost-driven. The inertial MEMS supply chain is quite fragmented, with some IDMs keeping testing and calibration internal but outsourcing packaging and assembly, and some doing everything.


 (Source: MEMS Packaging 2017 report, Yole Développement, Oct. 2017) – Click to enlarge

In the future, MEMS packaging platforms will become more complex to respond to the growing needs of sensor fusion. Combining several inertial or several environmental sensors in a package is already a reality. An illustration of that is the recent launch of 7-axis Motion and Pressure sensor by TDK (more here), combining an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a pressure sensor. The next step will be to combine inertial and environmental sensors in a same package, similarly to how LEDs and photodiodes are integrated today. In the future, the possible packaging technologies include Fan-Out Wafer-Level Packaging and embedded die in laminate for inertial sensors, as these platforms begin to deliver on performance and miniaturization.



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