Coventor Blog

MEMS Executive Congress: Focus on Mobile

The MEMS Executive Congress (November 7-8 in Napa, Calif.) is a great annual event that brings together important stakeholders from throughout the MEMS ecosystem – MEMS developers, foundries, developers of MEMS-enabled products and design tool companies such as Coventor. We look forward every year to hear about important trends, technology developments and new applications areas – and, of course, meet up with long-time friends within the industry.

It’s no surprise that this year’s event is focused on mobile as mobile devices are driving growth and opportunity in the MEMS industry. Smart phones, tablets, games, and cameras are all increasing their MEMS content with a broad array of new capabilities that enable users to interact with their environment. Add in the growing trend for wearable computing – for health, sports, education and entertainment applications – and mobile products are clearly the key focal point for MEMS. As one observer pointed out, “mobile devices are quickly becoming the planet’s foremost wireless sensor network.” read more…

Virtual Fabrication: Not just for ICs. Better insight into manufacturing helps MEMS designers, too.

With the current focus on IC processing challenges at sub-20nm device length scales, interest in micron-scale wafer processing seems to be out of the limelight. However, in the world of MEMS, micron-scale processing is dominant for high-volume components such as gyroscopes and accelerometers. In a typical MEMS process flow, tens of microns of silicon are etched to release structural features that are a few microns wide. And while those in IC process integration may think that MEMS processing should be simpler than for leading-edge ICs, the increasing complexity and customization in MEMS designs raise a different set of processing issues, which demand further understanding for successful device manufacturing. read more…

Predicting the Future of MEMS

Technology market analysts have a long and storied history of making bold predictions and eye-opening forecasts for growth in the industries they follow. Many, if not most, of these tend to quietly get swept under the rug when unforeseen macro-economic events or truly disruptive technology innovations interrupt the smooth ‘up-and-to-the-right’ growth lines that analyst like to paint. This is especially true in long-range forecasts, where blue-sky predictions of double, even triple, digit growth can be made for several years hence, with little chance that there will be any long-term accountability held against the forecaster if and when the numbers fall short. read more…

Our persistent quest for more accuracy, speed and capacity

By Steve Breit, V.P. Engineering

During a visit to a prospective customer a few months ago, a MEMS design manager told me that her philosophy is that a simulation is not worth doing if it takes more than two hours. I don’t want to focus on whether two minutes, two hours or two days is the right threshold, the point is that all engineers have a time limit on how long they’re willing to wait for simulations to complete. That said, two to four hours sounds about right to me as an upper limit. The question is: what should engineers do when they can’t achieve acceptable accuracy within their self-imposed time limit?
Sometimes the right answer is to buy a faster, bigger computer. Thanks to Moore’s law, computers are continually getting faster and cheaper. It’s amazing how much computing power can be purchased for $5,000 these days. That may be a very smart investment compared to the cost of engineering time, not to mention lost time-to-market opportunity, squandered by using inadequate computers. If only it was this simple. Engineers have this pesky habit of wanting to simulate ever more complex designs with more complex physics, and do it accurately. Thus the expectations for simulation tools continue to outpace the increases in computing power.
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A Trillion Sensors? Not so unbelievable

There is no doubt that MEMS is an interesting market to watch within the semiconductor sector. Various market researchers forecast it to continue to outpace the growth of the overall semiconductor industry, expanding from its base of around $11 billion in sales to $22.5 billion within the next five years (source: Yole Development).

And there’s one school of thought that believes the opportunity for MEMS may be even greater than we might imagine. The Trillion Sensor Roadmap is a group of sensor industry visionaries and experts who predict that by 2023, the cumulative shipment volume of sensors will have reached one trillion. Some think the milestone will be reached even sooner. The group will explore this idea at its annual Sensor Summit event, held this year October 23-25 at Stanford University.
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When will we get 3D NAND Flash Memory???

Dr. David M. Fried – CTO-Semiconductor

It’s about time for 3D NAND Flash, the agreed-upon “future of memory technology” to stop being the future and start being the present. The concepts all make sense. DRAM scaling is getting more and more difficult, and the speed difference between DRAM and NVRAM (Flash) has closed to some extent. Flash technologies have been using finer geometries than other semiconductor technologies for several 2D nodes, and now they’re running out of steam. So, with these apparently obvious trends, and several massive corporations applying a decade of their research and development efforts to the problem, why are these technologies not in the mainstream yet?

Because 3D is difficult. Really, really difficult.

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