Top 30 MEMS ranking: Total revenues slip 5%, but innovation still spurs growth for many

Contributed by Jérôme Mouly, MEMS Technology and Market Analyst,Yole Développement

Total MEMS revenues from the Top 30 MEMS suppliers tracked by Yole Développement slipped 5% in 2009, as the worldwide downturn hit consumer and automotive sales. But innovation still continued to sell. Companies with new, high-end products managed healthy growth, led by an eye-popping 500% increase at InvenSense, Inc., rapidly building up a $95M business in gyroscopes for consumer electronics.

Top 30 Worldwide MEMS Companies Ranking

Top 30 Worldwide MEMS Companies Ranking

TI back on top, Bosch passes ST

Texas Instruments edged out Hewlett Packard to take back the number one rank in this year’s preliminary figures for 2009 MEMS revenues, as sales of its digital light processing chips held up better than did those of Hewlett Packards’ ink jet heads–and because TI made headway getting its DLPs into the new pico projectors starting to hit the market. Robert Bosch pushed past STMicroelectronics back into third place by maintaining steady revenues, as lackluster automotive sales were balanced by impressive results from its consumer subsidiary Bosch Sensortec, which Yole estimates achieved 125% growth. Bosch remains the world’s leading MEMS sensor maker.

Yole Développement tracks results of 250 MEMS developers and manufacturers worldwide, based on 2500 company contacts each year. The Top 30 totaled some $5.1B in MEMS sales in 2009, for about 72% of the $7B total MEMS market. Growth and diversification of the sector’s leading companies across an ever wider range of MEMS products and companies means long time giants TI and HP no longer dominate the market quite as much as they used to. The pair now accounts for only 25% of the Top 30 total revenues, down from 29% as recently as 2007.

The battle in inertial sensors

Most notable development this year is the developing battle the gryoscope market. “InvenSense grasped a business opportunity with their low cost 2- and 3-axis products,” says Yole CEO Jean-Christophe Eloy, noting that the Sunnyvale, CA, company got its product to market after only some two to three years in development, extremely fast compared to the usual 5-10 year MEMS cycle, and was able to ramp production five-fold quickly using foundry TSMC. The company was the first to develop a simpler package that caps the MEMS device with the ASIC, allowing easier packaging as part of the front end process.

InvenSense has introduced a 3-axis single-chip gyro for less than $3, and various inertial sensor module combinations. Coming next: an inertial measurement unit combining a 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer, and 3-axis magnetometer, apparently using the company’s own accelerometer. Likely coming right after that: stepped up competition in the consumer inertial sensor market, as STMicroelectronics and Robert Bosch counter with their own new products. “ST will fight back like anything in 2010, and it has incredible commercial power,” predicts Eloy. “And Bosch will enter the market with its incredible technology.”

Annual Growth Rates 2008/2009

Annual Growth Rates 2008/2009

Downturn reshuffles the automotive sector

The downturn particularly reshuffled the automotive MEMS suppliers. Panasonic rocketed up the list to more than $200M in sales and ninth rank with its gyroscope and stablizer unit, taking over much of Systron Donner Automotive’s business after that company exited the market. “Panasonic was very aggressive on price to enter the field,” says Eloy, noting also that key SDA customer Continental conveniently needed an alternative supplier to the Bosch products used by its competitors. Denso and Infineon, in contrast, each saw sales drop 30% or more to move down the rankings. Systron Donner and Continental Automotive dropped off the Top 30 list.

Results all across the highly diversified MEMS sector varied widely. While Panasonic managed an impressive 67% growth, as it capitalized on other suppliers exiting the automotive market, healthy growth at Dalsa Semiconductor (up 19%) and Micralyne (up 7%) indicated the growing importance of the MEMS foundry model. With its strong sales over the last two years, Dalsa is now the number one independent MEMS foundry worldwide. Avago Technologies (up 14%) and Kionix (up 10%) did well with FBAR filters and inertial sensors for consumer markets, respectively. And Boehringer Ingelheim Microparts continued to see steady growth from its drug delivery systems, primarily nebulizers for asthma treatement (up 3%). The rest of the leading MEMS companies saw sales stagnate or decline, several by 30% or more.

This wide range of markets and technologies among the leading companies means plenty of volatility in the rankings as well, in the far from mature MEMS business. New to the ranks this year are Sensata, Sensonor and Dalsa Semiconductor, while FormFactor and Colibrys no longer make the cut. Sensata, TI’s former sensor business, changed its business model to do MEMS design, as well as integration, so now has fabless MEMS design revenues that qualify for inclusion on the list. Sensonor, now spun back out of Infineon as a private company again, is generating sales of its own inertial sensor modules. And more customer development projects in the pipeline for years are finally starting to make it into the production phase at the specialty MEMS foundries, propelling Dalsa Semiconductor into the Top 30.

For more information about this analysis, please contact Jérôme Mouly, MEMS technology and market analyst (mouly@yole.fr).

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