Fairchild enters fabless MEMS market for mobile, IoT and wearable devices

May 13, 2014 // By Peter Clarke
Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc., (San Jose, California) has confirmed it will enter the inertial MEMS market with mass production in 2014 as it formally announced the acquisition of Xsens Technologies BV (Eschede, The Netherlands).

Xsens is a private company that has specialized in 3D motion tracking systems based on MEMS inertial sensors. EE Times Europe reported the acquisition by Fairchild back in March 2014.

Mark Thompson, CEO of Fairchild, announced at a meeting held alongside the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) Executive Forum in Munich that the company spent approximately $60 million to acquire Xens and its sensor fusion technologies. These will enable a number of context-awareness functions in mobile, industrial control and stabilization, health and fitness applications, as well as 3D character animation, the companies said.

Casper Peeters, co-founder and CEO of Xsens, said: "Xsens has the sensor and software skills. We make systems. Fairchild has the low-power MEMS capability." Xsens will operate as an independent subsidiary of Fairchild and will continue to be headquartered in Enschede, The Netherlands.

"Xsens algorithms embedded within hardware enable very low power inertial MEMS. That's going to come out later this year," said Vijay Ullal, president and COO of Fairchild. Ullal said Fairchild has already developed a six-degrees of freedom accelerometer-gyroscope and that it was getting the MEMS part made in a foundry.

"We're not intending to compete head-on with the likes of STMicroelectronics and InvenSense. They have their markets in mobile phones and tablets. We will go into markets where low power is important; accuracy is important; support is important," said Ullal. Similarly Ullal said Fairchild was not interested in serving the automotive industry with motion-tracking MEMS at present.