Report: TSMC to boost MEMS business (think iPhone, Wii)

TSMC, the largest contract chip manufacturer in the world, will crank up its MEMS foundry business. These tiny devices are used in Apple's iPhone and the Nintendo Wii.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the largest contract chip manufacturer in the world, will crank up its MEMS foundry business. Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology is used in Apple's iPhone and the Nintendo Wii.

Nintendo Wii uses MEMS technology for motion detection
Nintendo Wii uses MEMS technology for motion detection Nintendo

MEMS typically have a microprocessor and other components such as microsensors. For example, MEMS technology is used in the iPhone and Wii to allow these devices to detect motion and changes in orientation.

In the iPhone, a device called an accelerometer detects when the user rotates the iPhone from portrait to landscape modes, then automatically adjusts the display, so the entire width of a web page or a photo can be seen in its proper aspect ratio.

Hewlett-Packard also uses MEMS technology for its inkjet print-head that combines integrated electronics with microfluidic channels to control ink droplets when printing.

TSMC will provide manufacturing services such as surface micromachining and manufacturing processes for CMOS-MEMS integration and packaging, according to Nikkei's Tech-On. (CMOS stands for complementary metal oxide semiconductor, a common class of integrated circuits used in microprocessors.)

MEMS technology, which in the past was limited mainly to in-house manufacturing or automotive products, is now being applied to a raft of consumer devices and mobile phones, the Tech-On report said.

The MEMS industry was estimated to be worth US$5.95 billion in 2007 and it is expected to exceed US$10.771 billion in 2011, the report said.

TSMC will detail the company's MEMS business plan at a technical seminar in Tokyo on May 15, the report said.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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