Bosch Sensortec grows in mobile and beyond, says CEO: Part 2

Bosch Sensortec grows in mobile and beyond, says CEO: Part 2
Interviews |
In part 1 of this interview, Stefan Finkbeiner, CEO of Bosch Sensortec, discussed his company's success in mobile applications and where further opportunities lie. Now read on...
By eeNews Europe


Exceptional sales growth requires additional manufacturing capacity. Bosch Sensortec is essentially a fabless subsidiary company that makes use of a 200-mm MEMS fab at Reutlingen, Germany belonging to the automotive operations of the parent company. The fab was formally opened in March 2010 and is being gradually fitted out with equipment through 2016. It is located alongside the previous generation 6-inch wafer fab.

"We leverage the Bosch supply chain. We use external suppliers of the ASIC and packaging. We are allowed to go to external suppliers. But the automotive market makes for a very stable load on the fab and then the consumer electronics is additional," said Finkbeiner.

Finkbeiner also revealed that Bosch Sensortec, following the lead of its automotive sibling uses contractors in southeast Asia for the delicate and vital business of wirebonding and packaging its multi-die MEMS.

Stefan Finkbeiner, CEO of Bosch Sensortec.

But the consumer electronics portion is growing fast so could Bosch Sensortec be forced to use an external foundry even for the MEMS die. "It’s not expected for the next two or three years," said Finkbeiner, by which time, of course, Robert Bosch may have invested in manufacturing again. Finkbeiner qualified his position saying: "It could happen if there was a special product that needed a special process," he said.

Given the commanding position of Bosch Sensortec and STMicroelectronics NV as joint market leaders in MEMS is there scope for the companies to become involved in the "Airbus of chips" initiative that is being promoted as vital to Europe’s interests by Neelie Kroess, vice president of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda (see European Commission repeats call for Airbus of chips)?

"I would not expect so. It appears to be focused on 450-mm diameter wafers, which is not a Bosch issue, and on digital CMOS which is not a central activity."

With Bosch manufacturing on 200-mm diameter wafers a move into 300mm manufacturing would be next on the MEMS agenda. Will it be coming any time soon either at Bosch or elsewhere? Finkbeiner indicates it’s not imminent at Bosch. "On 8-inch wafers you can get 20,000 to 30,000 MEMS die per wafer. It only takes a few wafers to get to millions of die." Finkbeiner said that although demand is going up MEMS makers are finding ways to reduce the size of die.

But eventually with the automotive and consumer MEMS markets growing and moves into the Internet of Things (IoT) additional manufacturing capacity will be needed; either from the IDMs such as Bosch and ST or established digital CMOS foundries such as TSMC or Globalfoundries.

Indeed one possibility being mooted is that Abu Dhabi switch an earlier plan to build a CMOS wafer fab there to MEMS manufacturing (see Should Abu Dhabi build a MEMS fab).

Finkbeiner does not dismiss it but is sceptical. "To set up the MEMS, ASIC and packaging requires a lot of money and a lot of learning. Unlike CMOS, MEMS is not one process and lot of products. The process often needs to be adapted. It makes it difficult. To build a new fab and get the money back would take a long time."

So how does Finkbeiner see demand for 2014. "It’s frightening. We more than doubled manufacturing capacity from 2012 to 2013 and we will likely need to install more capacity in 2014."

Related links and articles:

News articles:


Bosch opens billion-dollar wafer fab

European Commission repeats call for Airbus of chips

Should Abu Dhabi build a MEMS fab

Bosch sets up IoT subsidiary

Bosch, ST battle for MEMS market top spot

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