IWLPC (Wafer-Level Packaging) Conference Proceedings

MEMS Packaging: What Makes It So Special?

Authors: Eric Mounier, PhD., Rozalia Beica
Company: Yole Développement
Date Published: 11/5/2013   Conference: IWLPC (Wafer-Level Packaging)

Abstract: In 2012, the MEMS sector managed another year of ~10% growth to become an $11 billion business. We expect ongoing growth averaging ~12.7% through 2018 to create a $22.5 billion MEMS market. Such a growth is mostly driven by the smartphone applications. Shipments are growing as the mobile industry is turning into a complex sensing platform. This unprecedented demand is drastically affecting how MEMS modules will be designed, produced and packaged. In terms of packaging, protecting and orchestrating the assembly of the MEMS sensor and their related ASICs inside a module must be as low cost as possible. Today, packaging assembly, test and calibration of MEMS (including substrate value) accounts for nearly 35% to 60% of a MEMS module’s total cost. This is because MEMS types of packaging are more complex than most standard IC packages because they require a “System-in-Package” type of assembly. Additionally, sensor packages are generally quite bulky and can have very specific constraints like a module with a cavity, a hole in the substrate or metal lead for pressure sensors and microphones, an optical window for optical MEMS, or a full vacuum hermeticity at the die level. So, to cope with the high price pressure, standardization is becoming increasingly critical to support the massive volume grow in unit shipments along with decreasing overall costs associated with MEMS & sensor content, in particular related to their packaging. Indeed, at the Front- End level, no clear manufacturing standards are emerging but on the packaging side, it is interesting to see that some MEMS devices have the same packaging structure whatever the supplier is (e.g. MEMS microphones are all made from laminate PCB substrate, SiP assembly with wire bonding, cap and hole for air access). Our talk will review the latest changes in MEMS packaging. For example, over the last years, MEMS companies such as VTI, STM or Bosch are taking the lead on “substrate-less” assembly techniques, in which they successfully implemented 3D wafer-level packaging concepts by using TSV/TGV vertical feedthrough, redistribution layers, and bumping processes to directly connect the silicon part of the MEMS/sensor to the final motherboard — without using a ceramic, leadframe, or plastic package. We believe this trend will be accelerated even further with the shift to 200mm wafer manufacturing for MEMS as it will bring cost-effectiveness. We will present 2012-2016 market forecast for the MEMS packaging industry. We will show that MEMS package market is overtaking the IC package industry: MEMS package market is growing twice as faster (20% CAGR) as the overall IC package market in unit shipments (this is driving many packaging house players to be interested in entering this space). And in terms of overall value (including final test & calibration steps), the MEMS packaging market stepped beyond $1.6B in value in 2012. It is planned to already move beyond a $2.6B market by 2016 growing at a CAGR of ~10%, more than 2x faster than what is predicted for the overall IC packaging market (see figure 1). The MEMS packaging supply chain changes will be discussed as well.

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