Study: TI, inkjet print heads top MEMS drivers ranks

April 23, 2007 – Texas Instruments is the number one MEMS company worldwide thanks to its DLP chips business, raking in a record-setting $905 million in sales in 2006, nearly twice as much as No. 2 ranked Hewlett-Packard, according to German research firm Wicht Technologie Consulting. The firm’s updated MEMS market survey also shows that HP led a pack of firms focusing on the biggest current MEMS cash cow: inkjet print heads.

WTC interviewed more than 60 organizations during February and March 2007 regarding their current MEMS revenues, products, applications, and views of the major changes in the industry. In addition to ranking the top 30 MEMS manufacturers in terms of 2006 MEMS revenue (see chart above), WTC’s report also includes a listing the top 10 MEMS foundry service providers (see chart below).

“Although other rankings have existed for a couple of years, we did not agree with some of their results”, said Jeremie Bouchaud, head of market research, in a statement. He claimed that worthy companies are missing from those reports, and that MEMS sales from other firms has been underestimated.

TI saw its sales surge last year thanks to a 15% jump in DLP revenues, after an 8% slide the year before, boosted by its front projector business, according to WTC’s numbers. However, the firm predicts TI’s TV business will suffer from LCD and plasma competition.

Inkjet print heads still contribute greatly to overall MEMS revenues, with five companies in WTC’s top 10 list: HP, Canon, Lexmark, and Seiko with their own print head production, and STMicroelectronics as a major foundry partner for HP.

The automotive sector also is a next major revenue source, led by Bosch (overall 4th ranked) with sales of $374 million, followed by nine further companies jostling for position between the 9th place Freescale with $200 million and 16th in the list Honeywell with $122 million. Both gyro and accelerometer sensors for vehicle dynamics (ESP) applications and pressure sensors for TPMS were major stimulants for automotive MEMS markets in 2006, WTC noted.

Revenue from MEMS contract manufacturing from the firm’s “mems10” foundries — a homogeneous group of contract manufacturing companies that specialize or perform most of their foundry business in MEMS — reached $131 million in 2006, 30% better than in 2005. IMT overtook APM as the leading MEMS foundry, jumping from $13 million to $21 million based on contract manufacturing of infrared sensors, MOEMS, and DC switch arrays for telecom applications. Best growth in 2006 went to Silex, which doubled revenues to $13 million.

WTC noted that ST and Sony should be mentioned alongside the “mems10” foundries — whereas the others serve anywhere from 15-60 customers, the big chip companies’ MEMS foundry activity usually is focused on one key customer. In the case of ST that partner is HP, while Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corp. is the main MEMS wafer supplier for Knowles acoustics. Their MEMS sales actually dwarf the smaller foundries, roughly ~$240 million for ST and $35 million for Sony.

(Published with SST sister publication Small Times)


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