MEMS foundry rankings show STM’s dominance, pure-play foundry growth

July 5, 2011 — STMicroelectronics (STM) maintained its clear lead in contract micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) manufacturing in 2010, acheiving 5x higher revenue from MEMS foundry services than the nearest competitor, Texas Instruments (TI), according to IHS iSuppli’s latest research.

STM’s 2010 MEMS foundry revenue totalled $228.6 million, the only company to top 100-million dollars. Inkjet wafers made for the Hewlett-Packard Co. represented the majority of STM’s MEMS revenue. And although HP inkjet revenue has been shrinking, STM managed to grow its foundry takings by capturing an increasing share of HP inkjet production in the last four years. STM also has started working with other inkjet manufacturers, such as Kodak, and has won several foundry programs in the bio MEMS space, such as insulin pumps with Debiotech of Switzerland.

TI hit $47.4 million in revenues for 2010, perpetuating a foundry-revenue slide its been in since Lexmark’s business dropped in 2004. However, TI recently contracted with a Top 15 maker of consumer MEMS, so look for higher TI MEMS foundry revenues in 2011.

Sensonor Technologies took third place in IHS iSuppli’s rankings with $38.0 million.

Sony Corp. came in fourth with $31.9 million, a 51.2% jump in revenue spurred by primary client Knowles Electronics, which dominates MEMS microphones.

Figure. Top MEMS mixed-model foundries (Millions of US dollars). Source: IHS iSuppli 2011.

IHS iSuppli distinguishes the pure-play MEMS foundries that do not manufacture their own MEMS from mixed-model foundries that offer MEMS contract manufacturing in addition to their core business. The top 10 mixed-model MEMS makers reached $396 million in 2010 revenues (STM and TI earned 70% of that). In comparison, the top 10 pure-play foundries reached $205.3 million over the same period.

While the mixed-model companies have more revenues, pure-play foundries are seeing rapid growth: 48.4% expansion in 2010. Mixed-model companies barely grew: 2.4% expansion as a whole.  

Four pure-play MEMS foundries each had revenue in 2010 that exceeded $30 million, surpassing that mark for the first time. Silex Microsystems led the pack with $36.0 million revenue, pulled mostly from industrial and scientific applications, along with medical applications and optical MEMS.

Micralyne grew 50% last year to reach $31.3 million.

Asia Pacific Microsystems came in third with $31.2 million.

Dalsa Corp., which led pure-play foundries in 2009, placed fourth with $30.9 million.

IHS iSuppli notes that the foundry business model can mean many things today: from a wafer-supply company to a one-stop shop, and from diversified foundries to specialized houses. Some MEMS foundries also have positioned themselves as prototyping sites for research and development, and others pursue serial production.

While MEMS foundries make the chips, the intellectual property (IP) related to the MEMS parts belongs to the fabless company or design house. Exceptions to this rule include Memscap, which controls the IP on the variable optical attenuator chips it sells to JDSU and other telecommunications companies. IHS iSuppli calls this model a good way to shorten time to market, though warns it could scare off some clients.

Learn more in MEMS Competitive Analysis 2011 from IHS iSuppli:

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