By Stephen Breit, Coventor, Inc.
As MEMS component suppliers compete to offer more functionality in their components, companies will be driven to adopt a MEMS design-automation platform that can most efficiently integrate multiple technologies.
MEMS integration means different things to different audiences. To pioneers in the MEMS industry, integration may imply a monolithic fabrication process, in which the MEMS and accompanying CMOS electronics are fabricated on the same die. MEMS design automation software suppliers have a broader view of integration, one the includes combining MEMS with CMOS electronics, whether in a monolithic process, as separate die in the same package, or even in separate packages. And integration encompasses packaging effects on the MEMS as well. The electronics are analog/mixed-signal (A/MS) circuits that provide electrical input to the MEMS and perform A/D conversion on its output. Such circuits are designed and simulated at a high level of abstraction with tools such as MATLAB and Simulink, and at lower levels of abstraction with EDA software such as the Cadence Virtuoso suite. MEMS designers, therefore, must deliver models of their designs that are compatible with the tools of choice for electronics design. The integration challenge is a major focus throughout the MEMS ecosystem.