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DAC 2017: MEMS are key to IoT applications

Coventor is changing the way MEMS are made

The value of the internet of things lies in the data generated by billions of connected devices, and those devices need sensors to generate that data. Sensors measure temperature, light, speed, position, moisture, flow rate, activity level … almost anything you can measure with your five senses and some things you can’t even perceive.

Sensors are often paired with actuators, miniature machines that perform a function based on digital instructions. For example, a sensor could measure how quickly liquid flows through a pipe, and an actuator could trigger a valve to stop the flow.

Tiny sensors and actuators are often called micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and they are typically made using the same fabrication processes used to make integrated circuits. But those processes don’t address the unique challenges of MEMS manufacturing, according to Coventor, a company that helps helps designers create advanced MEMS devices. Its MEMS design solutions are used to develop solutions for automotive, aerospace, industrial, defense, and consumer electronics applications. Coventor’s software facilitates the co-design of MEMS and the accompanying systems and electronic circuitry that complete a packaged MEMS product.

Coventor also helps companies improve the yield of advanced semiconductor technologies. Intel, one of Coventor’s investors, asked the company to adapt its computer-aided design software for semiconductor fabrication. Next IBM took notice, and used Coventor’s software to help design its 22-nanometer process semiconductors. Following the successful development of those chips, IBM’s chief technologist David Fried joined Coventor as CTO.

Coventor CEO Michael Jamiolkowski explained that the company’s software enables engineers to iterate faster because they can emulate designs before building them. The company’s SEMulator3D platform provides a complete virtual fabrication environment meant to parallel the capabilities of actual chip fabrication plants.

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