, the leading supplier of MEMS(1) for consumer and portable applications and
the third largest MEMS manufacturer overall(2), has expanded its portfolio with
next-generation micro-machined acoustic devices. The innovative MEMS microphones
that use sensor technology from OMRON(3) will significantly raise the bar in
sound quality, reliability, and cost-effectiveness for existing and emerging
audio applications like cell phones, wireless devices and games that respond
to voice inputs, across a range of market segments.
MEMS microphones have recently emerged to compete with the traditional electret
condenser microphones (ECM)(4). Leveraging established high-volume silicon manufacturing
processes, micro-machined acoustic devices meet price points set by electret
microphones, while boasting superior reliability and robustness. Importantly,
MEMS microphones can be made smaller than the most compact ECMs and are less
susceptible to mechanical vibration, temperature variations and electromagnetic
interference, which is important in cell phones and other devices with an audio
input, such as notebook computers, video recorders, digital cameras, as well
as hearing aids or electronic stethoscopes.
Addressing widespread user demand for a better audio experience in today's mobile
devices, the new high-performance MEMS microphones enable dramatic advancements
in sound quality and offer additional features such as noise suppression and
directional voice pickup, useful to determine and filter out irrelevant noise.
These features, which are valuable with the increasing use of cell phones in
noisy and uncontrollable environments and can sensibly improve the quality of
mobile conversations and conferencing, can be realized by incorporating multiple
MEMS microphones in one device. Such microphone arrays improve noise cancellation
and are now made possible with the unique packaging technology(5) used for ST's
digital MEMS microphones.
ST customers will benefit from the industry-unique capability to manage the
whole supply chain and leading-edge MEMS production capacity at ST and OMRON.
"In the past, microphones were the domain of expert acoustics companies,
but now it's time for semiconductor MEMS players to drive the growth of this
market. We're aiming to increase the size of the MEMS microphone market by an
order of magnitude," said Benedetto Vigna, Group Vice President and General
Manager of MEMS and Healthcare Division, STMicroelectronics. "This market
can explode only with big and long-term committed suppliers, operating their
own leading-edge MEMS fabs. Working together with our Japanese friends, we'll
drive the microphone market growth as we have done in motion sensors."
"OMRON is ready to support ST in shortening product development cycles
and time-to-volume for high-performance, cost-competitive silicon acoustic devices,
accelerating the growth of the MEMS market and the development of new application
areas such as voice-enabled gaming, automotive voice systems, acoustic sensors
for industry and security applications, and medical telemetry," said Yoshio
Sekiguchi, General Manager of Micro Devices Division, Micro Devices Business
Development H.Q., OMRON Corporation.
Samples of digital MEMS microphones that integrate ST's electronic control circuit
and OMRON's micro-machined sensor in a single package will be available before
the end of this year, at less than one dollar for large-volume orders. This
price is set to catalyze the adoption of MEMS microphones in a wide range of
existing and emerging audio applications in the consumer, automotive, industrial
and medical segments.
According to iSuppli's research dated September 2009, the market for micro-machined
acoustic devices for consumer electronics and mobile handsets is forecast to
grow at a revenue CAGR of 18% between 2008 and 2013, when it will exceed one
billion parts per year.