Industry analyst forecasts MEMS market to reach $21 billion by 2017; predicts some new MEMS devices such as RF MEMS for mobile devices could see CAGR > 90%
TowerJazz and Cavendish Kinetics, today announced their collaboration to bring MEMS tunable RF solutions to the consumer mobile wireless market. The process technology combines the Cavendish NanoMech™ MEMS technology with the TowerJazz power CMOS process and custom RF interconnect in a single chip solution. Designed specifically for radio frequency (RF) applications, the Cavendish NanoMech™ MEMS technology has passed rigorous reliability testing and enables products boasting advantages in size and performance compared to other technologies. NanoMech™ MEMS technology can be combined with other TowerJazz technologies such as SOI CMOS, SiGe BiCMOS and Through-Silicon Vias (TSVs) to service a wide variety of emerging applications.
Cavendish is shipping antenna frequency tuning products to strategic partners for sampling to end customers. These products address challenges with 4G/LTE in achieving its theoretical data throughput. Historically, performance has been limited for several reasons. The increasing number of features in phones and increasing number of frequencies supported require more components and antennas.
The increasing size of displays creates a ground plane that blocks the antenna signal and limits performance. To address these trends which lead to further RF performance degradation, the Cavendish components are used to dynamically tune antennas. Because the Cavendish components have an Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) comparable to a passive component without needing a lossy RF switch, designers can incorporate the components to perform Antenna Frequency Tuning (AFT) in mobile devices. AFT changes the resonant frequency of the antenna and enables much higher antenna efficiency. RF switches, both discrete and solid state, can reduce efficiency by up to 50% when used for AFT. Eliminating the switch, and instead implementing the tunable solutions, dramatically improves overall RF system performance.
Higher demands on LTE mobile devices for better reception of wireless broadband signals is driving the need for this next generation solution. The Cavendish device improves the quality of RF signal by using a large array of bi-state MEMS capacitors on a CMOS chip to provide a variable capacitance to the RF circuit. This class of components addresses needs for: antenna frequency tuning, antenna impedance matching, tunable power amplifiers, and tunable filters.
Fabrication of these tunable solutions, as done at TowerJazz, includes standard CMOS processing steps, but uses a novel and differentiating technique that encapsulates the MEMS elements inside tiny micro-cavities to isolate the moving parts from the outside world. The encapsulation is performed within the semiconductor wafer fab process, not at packaging assembly facilities.
“We have aligned with a strong manufacturing partner with an established track record and known capabilities to deliver robust and reliable products in a high volume manufacturing environment,” said Dennis Yost, President and CEO of Cavendish Kinetics. “TowerJazz has proven its ability to quickly transfer process technologies and we are now in a position to supply tens of millions of devices per month to support the large and rapidly growing 4G/LTE mobile device market,” Yost added.
"We are excited to bring the Cavendish Kinetics NanoMech™ MEMS devices into volume manufacturing," said Russell Ellwanger, CEO of TowerJazz. "The integrated RF MEMS process is strategic for TowerJazz and broadens our specialty fab leadership position. TowerJazz is a large supplier to the consumer RF market and the Cavendish relationship expands our market participation. By combining the TowerJazz high volume manufacturing capability with the innovative NanoMech™ MEMS process from Cavendish, a highly reliable CMOS-MEMS solution is helping to solve some very difficult 4G/LET issues."
About Cavendish Kinetics
Cavendish Kinetics (www.cavendish-kinetics.com) provides compelling, high-performance RF tuning solutions for mobile device manufacturers in the global wireless industry. These solutions improve device connectivity, delivering performance benefits to mobile devices and networks and reducing manufacturing costs. As the world’s leading expert on RF microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) design and manufacturing, Cavendish has achieved a breakthrough—applying its patented MEMS technology and manufacturing processes to solving tough radio-frequency (RF) connectivity problems, particularly for 4G and LTE. Privately held, Cavendish is based in San Jose, CA, USA, and has offices in Korea, Taiwan, China and The Netherlands.
Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (NASDAQ: TSEM, TASE: TSEM), its fully owned U.S. subsidiary Jazz Semiconductor Ltd., and its fully owned Japanese subsidiary TowerJazz Japan, Ltd., operate collectively under the brand name TowerJazz, the global specialty foundry leader. TowerJazz manufactures integrated circuits, offering a broad range of customizable process technologies including: SiGe, BiCMOS, Mixed-Signal/CMOS, RFCMOS, CMOS Image Sensor, Power Management (BCD), and MEMS capabilities.
TowerJazz also provides a world-class design enablement platform that enables a quick and accurate design cycle. In addition, TowerJazz provides (TOPS) Technology Optimization and development Process Services to IDMs and fabless companies that need to expand capacity. TowerJazz offers multi-fab sourcing with two manufacturing facilities in Israel, one in the U.S., and one in Japan. For more information, please visit www.towerjazz.com.