Silex Microsystems, the world's largest pure-play MEMS foundry, announced today that A.M. Fitzgerald & Associates ("AMFitzgerald"), a MEMS product development firm, has selected Silex's SmartBlocks™ technology for its RocketMEMS™ program, a new model for designer-foundry collaboration that enables rapid and cost-effective development of MEMS sensors.
Initially targeted for the pressure sensor market, AMFitzgerald's new program leverages decades of MEMS expertise by coupling Silex's SmartBlocks technology with its extensive process integration and design expertise. As a result of this industry-first program, customers can now expect to reduce the total MEMS development process for pressure sensors by at least 6-12 months and save several hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in overall development costs.
AMFitzgerald's RocketMEMS program will enable customers to meet their sensor specifications, while significantly reducing risk and time to market with Silex's production-ready processes. The program uses a manufacturing-friendly approach to MEMS development whereby new sensors are designed specifically for existing foundry process capabilities. Customers will submit sensor specifications to AMFitzgerald, who has designed a sensor architecture to fit a process flow assembled from the Silex SmartBlocks technology. Sensor designs will then be tailored to fit individual customers' needs.
"Our core belief is that MEMS foundries need to support, not restrict, innovation by understanding and communicating the outputs and control tolerances of well-characterized process modules, information much needed by MEMS designers. Just listing the individual process steps available for use is insufficient," said Peter Himes, Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Alliances for Silex Microsystems. "As leaders in our respective markets, AMFitzgerald and Silex have joined forces to attack the problem of 'one product one process' and the result will be a new template for design-foundry cooperation that we hope will be replicated across the industry in order to spur MEMS development for many years to come."
"Our new RocketMEMS program was developed based on the belief that more OEMs would use MEMS sensors if they could be quickly and reliably configured for the OEM's specific application," said Dr. Alissa M. Fitzgerald, Founder and Managing Member of AMFitzgerald. "OEMs often can't find the sensor they need on the open market. At the same time, designing new MEMS sensors is not where these system integrators want to add value as they want to focus on the system and software that makes their products great. Strategic standardization of MEMS design and process can provide solutions to these customers allowing them to quickly and efficiently integrate MEMS sensors into new products."
"The partnering of a foundry and design house is a significant milestone in the MEMS industry and will be instrumental in driving rapid growth of this market," said Jean-Christophe Eloy, President & CEO at Yole Développement. "We can see this semi-custom approach becoming pervasive in many industries as it takes the complexity out of a typical MEMS product lifecycle so that a much broader spectrum of companies can get to market faster."
AMFitzgerald is also working with Silex to develop product design tools tuned to the Silex toolset and manufacturing capabilities that will be available to third parties as plug-ins to common EDA software. Over time, Silex and AMFitzgerald plan to expand their programs to other design houses and foundries, respectively.