Prof. Suhwan Kim, Develops system semiconductors for high-performance digital MEMS microphones… Successfully enters the digital MEMS microphone market (Electronic Times, 20190815)

2019-09-24l Hit 359



SNU ECE Professor Suhwan Kim was the first in the world to develop system semiconductors for high-performance digital MEMS microphones with built-in sound detection of high sensitivity. He succeeded in entering the digital MEMS microphone market, an achievement unprecedented by domestic companies.


SNU stated on the 15th that Professor Suhwan Kim’s team, through industry-academy cooperation with the Korean fabless startup ‘Gwanak Analogue Technologies(관악아날로그)’, in which SNU Techno Holdings invested, was the first in the world to develop a system semiconductor for digital MEMS microphones that could detect weak signals and support single inputs of 66dB and differential inputs of 69dB.


Digital MEMS microphones are a crucial component for voice recognition. System semiconductors are the most important technology to digital MEMS microphones.


Professor Suhwan Kim said, “Top products of previously developed system semiconductors for digital MEMS microphones could support up to 69dB. For the first time, detecting weak acoustic signals has become possible.”


Professor Kim presented the technical accomplishment achieved during the product development process in the world’s leading conference in low power circuit design last month. A Chinese company was willing to purchase the system semiconductor for high performance digital MEMS microphones that was developed by Professor Kim’s team.


SNU noted that he and his team had achieved independence of technology in the barren lands of the digital MEMS microphone market, where domestic companies had failed in R&D. According to the market research institute HIS Markit, it is anticipated that the MEMS microphone market will expand to an annual total of 1.5 billion dollars (about 1612.2 billion won) 2021. This is because along with the increase in demand for smartphones and voice-recognition speakers, the need for system semiconductors for high performance digital MEMS microphones with a sensitivity rating of over 65dB will also increase.



Currently, companies including ‘Knowles’ of the U.S. and ‘Infineon’ of Germany account for 80% of the global MEMS microphone market. Korean companies, supplied with system semiconductors from these companies, added MEMS acoustic sensors to assemble and manufacture products.


Professor Suhwan Kim commented, “Foreign system semiconductor companies are significantly affecting our component industry. To raise the independence of domestic companies, digital MEMS microphone system semiconductors should be developed. We will do our best in research and development so that small and middle-sized Korean companies can grow even under the harsh conditions of the system semiconductor market.”



Translated by: Jee Hyun Lee, English Editor of Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,