More than half of microelectromechanical systems MEMS packaging today is done by outsourced semiconductor and test services providers (OSATs) and Yole Développement (Yole) estimates OSATs’ market share will continue to grow in the next five years. The MEMS volume augmentation, especially for radio frequency (RF) applications, is making the MEMS business more and more attractive for OSATs, which have started to offer a wider range of packaging solutions and tests, accordingly to automotive standards.

Yole’s analysts pursue their analysis of the advanced packaging industry applied to MEMS devices. Facing a dynamic market, the company details the technical and business trends and offers its vision of the industry. In terms of packaging and testing, are MEMS devices the next opportunity for OSATs?

In the era of smart devices, sensing is essential as devices become substitutes for human beings. People are surrounded by sensors, relying on them for safety, entertainment, food production, transportation… Whether sensors are used in smartphones, in cars or in aircraft, there are two major challenges beyond their original function:  integration and reliability.

MEMS technologies have enabled performant, miniaturized, cost-effective and reliable sensors, some of them withstanding high temperatures and harsh environments. The diversity of MEMS devices and the different technologies involved in their manufacture have led to a complex but sustainable supply chain from design to testing involving foundries, OSATs and MEMS vendors. The MEMS packaging business is organized around five main families: inertial MEMS, environmental MEMS, optical MEMS, acoustic MEMS and RF MEMS.

If the land grid array (LGA) package remains the most commonly used platform, the trend towards sensor fusion and the aggregation of several sensors in one device stresses the interest in using systems-in-package (SiP) and hybrid package platforms alike; like the recent launch from Invensense/TDK of a 7-axis sensor combining accelerometer, gyroscope and pressure sensor.

Originally MEMS devices were packaged and tested by integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) or MEMS vendors; OSATs entered the MEMS packaging business and they have not stopped grasping market share since. Their next opportunity is MEMS testing, which has been retained by IDMs for confidentiality reasons and due to reliability issues for customers.

opportunity for OSATs In some cases, it makes sense economically to perform packaging at OSATs’ facilities when logic and MEMS dies are sourced from several suppliers.

The market research and strategy consulting company Yole estimates that the MEMS packaging market will grow from a market value of US$2.56 billion in 2016 to US$6.46 billion in 2022 – a 16.7% CAGR over this period, including MEMS-based RF devices[1]. This doubling of the market is a significant opportunity from which OSATs will benefit the most, based on Yole estimates. In an recent iMicronews interview, Alan Evans, MEMS Business Development/Technical Program Manager at Unisem Group – a Malaysian OSAT which according to Yole ranks at #6 in the MEMS packaging business[2] – explained that the standardization of some MEMS packages fosters the outsourcing to IDMs or OSATs as the volume of dies packaged at OSATs, leveraged by their different customers, enables better cost-competitive packaging solutions.

Opportunity for OSATS.

The question remains whether the same trend will be followed in MEMS testing, as tests can represent between 30-90% of final component price depending on the end application. Some OSATs are targeting this as a new business opportunity, like Amkor Technology which has recently announced its testing capabilities, including MEMS testing.

The automotive market, which is currently undergoing a revolution with the development of smart vehicles, is a playground for sensors vendors but also presents a new challenge. The lifetime of automotive sensors is expected to be 10 years as against three to four years for smartphones. Whilst there can be a trade-off between reliability and cost for infotainment devices in cars, this is not the case for safety devices, which require more testing, burn-in testing and finished package inspection. Equipment suppliers, MEMS and MEMS package designers and OSATs are working closely to enable cost-effective testing solutions.

Yole’s analysts will attend NEPCON Japan: IC & Sensor Packaging Technology Expo next week. Emilie Jolivet, Technology & Market Analyst, will be presenting a relevant presentation entitled “MEMS sensor and IC advanced package: how automotive and AI will challenge the packaging business” on January 17 at 9:30 AM – Session ISP-1. In her presentation, Emilie will offer an overview of the advanced packaging industry, with a special focus on packaging and testing for MEMS devices as well as challenges in the automotive industry. Yole pursues its market and technology investigations dedicated to the automotive industry with a large number of technology and market analyses (more on i-micronews website). The company invites you to meet its experts at booth E71-103, in the Automotive World exhibition area, in parallel with NEPCON Japan.

For more information about Yole Développement and its participation, contact Camille Veyrier (

[1] Source : MEMS packaging report, Yole Développement, 2017

[2] Source : MEMS packaging report, Yole Développement, 2017

Emilie Jolivet

I am a Technology & Market Analyst in the Advanced Packaging and Semiconductor Manufacturing team…

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