June 30, 2009: MEMS device demand has held steadier than the overall semiconductor market, but the market for equipment to make MEMS devices has struggled like the overall chip tools sector -- but now it's poised to surge ahead of the broader sector, according to an industry analyst.
The breadth of different MEMS devices -- e.g., accelerometers, digital mirror displays, gyroscopes, microfluidic devices, microphones, and pressure sensors -- helped keep the sector afloat even as general IC demand fell off a cliff. MEMS device sales actually rose 1.2% in 2008 vs. a -2.8% in the general semiconductor picture, and are seen increasing another 1.7% in 2009 vs. a -21.6% plunge for chips.
For suppliers of equipment to make those devices, though, the story hasn't been good. MEMS equipment sales sunk -37.5% in 2008 and are projected to drop another -31.2% in 2009, "decreases similar to the -32.5% drop in 2008 and our projected -41.0% drop in 2009 for semiconductor equipment," notes Robert Castellano of the Information Network, citing a new report, "Global MEMS device, equipment, and materials markets: Forecasts and strategies for vendors and foundries."
There is good news for MEMS tool suppliers, though. Castellano says this sector actually has already started to rebound in 2Q09, "while we don't see an uptick in the semiconductor equipment market until mid-Q3.'