Karen’s blog from SEMICON West 2011 – It’s Showtime!

By Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group

Without a doubt, this year was the year of MEMS at SEMICON West. MEMS had its best showing EVER at this year’s show, in my humble opinion.

Why? Well since you asked, I’ll tell you. MIG shared a booth with 6 of its member companies: Amerimade Technology, Akrion Systems, Brewer Science, IMT, MEMSCAP and XACTIX. While at first I was worried about the tight fit in the 10×10 spot, it worked out really well. The reality is that when you go to a show like SEMICON West, you honestly don’t want to stay in one booth for more than 20 minutes; you want to roam the floor in search of adventure (or at least new customers/partners/members). So having us all in one spot as a “reference point” really worked out well and I am grateful to SEMI (namely Tom Morrow and Ray Morgan) for making it happen.  Check out our Flickr and YouTube links to see some fun video and pics from the show, the MEMS DemoZone, some parties, and the show floor, featuring a TON of MIG members.

Beyond our merry band of MIG’ers cohabitating in our booth there were many more on the SEMICON West show floor: Applied Materials, Inc.; AEPI, the Grenoble-Isere Economic Development Agency; Bullen Ultrasonics; CEA-Leti; Chipworks; ClassOne Equipment, Inc.; EV Group; Expertech; GLOBALFOUNDRIES; imec; OEM Group; Oxford Instruments; Plan Optik AG; Plasma-Therm; Rite Track; Semefab; Silex Microsystems; SPP Process Technology Systems UK Limited; SUSS MicroTec; TECNISCO; Yield Engineering; and Yole Développement.

But perhaps even more exciting is that MIG hosted the first-ever MEMS DemoZone featuring products from Freescale Semiconductor: Amazon Kindle DX; Chumby One-based walking robot; FitBit; Sertec Sistemas’ low-power tracking device; and Gauss Industria’s MAP Sensor. The DemoZone had a pressure sensor for aircraft flight testing and an accelerometer for automotive safety testing from Meggitt (Endevco); a wickedly cool MEMS Thermal IR sensor from OMRON; a MEMS scanning mirror in a pico-projector from Touch Micro-System Technology (Walsin Lihwa Corporation); and a MEMS wafer from Okmetic. Chipworks also gave attendees an inside look at the MEMS inside: Samsung Galaxy Tab, Apple iPhone and Nintendo 3DS.

On the first day of the show, I had a TON of fun moderating a special session on MEMS manufacturing: “The Future of MEMS: Solutions for Moving from a Niche to a Mainstream Business” (July 12, 10:30 a.m.-12:40 p.m. PDT, Extreme Electronics TechXPOT, South Hall). Speakers included MIG member companies Bosch Research and Technology Center, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, imec, Teledyne DALSA, and Yole Développement discussing manufacturing processes and technologies optimized for faster time-to-market and ramp-to-volume. The program also included a newcomer to the MEMS space (and not YET MIG members), Srini Badri of National Instruments.

While fielding questions from the audience and making sure we stayed relatively on time (big thank you to Paula Doe and Agnes Cobar ofSEMI to help make it look seamless), I also took a few notes that I’ll share with you. JC Eloy spoke a bunch about motion sensor trends and overviewed the MEMS market in general. When talking about trends in mobile handsets, he also showed examples from micropelt, audiopixels, and chipsensors. Though he admitted in a later question from me that energy harvesting-MEMS in mobile devices might be a few years down the road, there will be an emergence of environmental & biologic sensors in mobile phones in the next year or two.

After JC, Rakesh Kumar started off by stating that “MEMS is like an Indian traffic intersection, crowded & diversified but everyonegets to their destination” and showed a video to demonstrate his point (mental note to self: hire a driver when in India). Rakesh outlined his thoughts on the MEMS industry and the lack of a roadmap (this would not be the last time I would hear the words “MEMS roadmap” this week, BTW). After Rakesh came Claude Jean whose presentation was a study in contrasts. Let’s just say that GlobalFoundries and Teledyne Dalsa see the world of MEMS in different ways, and honey, that is what makes this industry (and this job) so much fun. To quote Rob O’Reilly of Analog Devices “MEMS is hard” – ‘nuf said.

Next up was Jo de Boek, and if you read my earlier blog from SEMICON, you’ll know that I really enjoyed Jo’s presentation at the imec smartphone 2020 forum. His presentation at SEMICON West was equally brilliant, as it gave a clear and interesting overview of the mobile experience, enabled by MEMS. Following Jo was one of MEMS’ “rising stars” (again, in my opinion), Gary O’Brien. Gary roared through an impressive overview of “the world according to Bosch” and highlighted their work in automotive and mobile applications. Last up was Srini Badri who talked about the cost of MEMS testing — how it’s going up and yes, the need for a MEMS roadmap.

The other session I was able to attend for a bit was on Heterogeneous MEMS integration featuring MIG members: Rob O’Reilly and Asif Chowdhury of Analog Devices; and Tomas Bauer of Silex. From what I’ve been told the best part of the session was when the speakers went back up to do a panel discussion when the bars had opened up on the show floor…sorry I missed that.

I had to skip out of the session because I had the pleasure of attending two back-to-back workshops on MEMS. The first hosted by SUSS MicroTec on “3D Integration Workshop – Are we there yet?” where industry experts in materials, equipment and processing joined SUSS in addressing the status of the 3D TSV infrastructure and recent advances in 3D processing technologies. Then I hopped over to listen to CEA-Leti present on recent breakthroughs and the outlook for several critical technologies facing the industry over the next five years. Hughes Metras did a great overview of their programs and success stories. But I was totally wowed by the director of CLINATEC at CEA-Leti who discussed some revolutionary trends in biomedicine and quality of life-improving health care (one of my fav topics).

The rest of my time at the show was spent connecting with members, partners, as well as potential members and partners and I HOPE that several of those potentials will become NEW MIG members. Then of course, there were the fab parties including EVG’s and SPTS’ on July 13. The best and most fun time I had was at MIG’s fourth annual member event at LuLu’s – we had the biggest and best turnout of folks in and around the MEMS industry and I want to thank ClassOne for sponsoring the event. Again you should check out our pics and videos – most of which I believe are family friendly.

Thanks everyone for making SEMICON West a great event. Let’s hope that MEMS’ presence at the show only grows next year.

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One thought on “Karen’s blog from SEMICON West 2011 – It’s Showtime!

  1. Pingback: Karen’s blog from SEMICON West 2012 « MEMSblog

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