MEMS Design Contest

Breaking News!  The selection of ten semi-finalist teams who will compete for the top prize in the MEMS Design Contest 2018 has now been made!  Contest organizers carefully evaluated submissions from all over the world and selected the 10 most innovative ideas to be further explored and developed during the design stage of the contest.  Submissions ranged from teams of two to nine, addressing areas such as surgical robots, energy harvesting and automotive Heads Up Display (HUD) applications.   All ten design teams in the semi-final round will receive the design tools, methodologies and process technologies needed to create their MEMS and mixed-signal designs as well as free access to various blocks of Intellectual Property (IP) that can be used as part of their design such as digital standard cells, I/Os, RAM and ROM blocks.

The design phase of the contest runs from now until December 31, 2017. The top three finalists will be announced on February 28, 2018 and prizes will be awarded at the annual Cadence user conference, CDNLive EMEA, in Munich, Germany, in 2018.

Good luck to all the semi-finalists!     We will post updates regarding team progress, as news becomes available.


The Cadence Academic Network, X-FAB, Coventor, and Reutlingen University have teamed up to organize a worldwide MEMS Design Contest. Let’s see who can design and build the best MEMS and mixed-signal designs—show us your ideas and win exciting prizes! If you don’t know how to use those tools, don’t worry! We’ll provide several workshops to familiarize you with the design tools and technologies.


Design Challenge

Contestants can choose to design one or more of the following items:

1.   Design an innovative MEMS device, leveraging Cadence and Coventor design tools and a proven X-FAB MEMS Manufacturing Process (XMS10 or XMB10). 

The X-FAB XMB10 MEMS manufacturing process will support MEMS designs such as MEMS-based inertial sensors, including gyroscopes and acceleration sensors, along with other types of products. As an example, you could design a TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) using a pressure sensor, acceleration sensors, temperature sensors plus CMOS logic

Supported features of the X-FAB XMB10 process include:XMB10_Detail_picture.jpg

  • Sensor wafers with prefabricated, hidden cavities, proven for inertial sensors (accelerometers and gyroscopes)
  • Movable structures created from monocrystalline silicon
  • Capacitive actuation and sensing
  • Comb fingers with decreased height for out-of-plane actuation
  • Wafer level bonding for hermetic sealing





2.  Design a mixed-signal MEMS driver and read-out logic ASIC using the Cadence Design platform and the X-FAB XH035 or XH018 high voltage CMOS process.  

3.  Design a co-designed MEMS and CMOS product, using Coventor MEMS+ and Cadence design tools


MEMS design in Coventor MEMS+ environment using XMB10 PDK    Co-simulation of MEMS+ model and driver IC in Cadence Virtuoso

Awards / Prizes

The awards ceremony will take place at CDNLive EMEA 2018 in Munich:

1st Prize:

  • US $5,000 cash prize
  • Manufacture of the winning solution at X-FAB using the X-FAB MPW service
  • One-year license of Coventor’s MEMS design platform
  • Presentation of award at CDNLive EMEA 2018 in Munich

2nd Prize:

  • US $2,000 cash prize
  • Presentation of award at CDNLive EMEA 2018 in Munich

3rd Prize:

  • US $1,000 cash prize
  • Presentation of award at CDNLive EMEA 2018 in Munich
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On line registration and proposal submission

July 17, 2016 -  December 31, 2016

•  Candidates submit (on the public contest website) a proposal with a description of their project
(click here to submit proposal)

•   Proposal is reviewed by sponsors to assess suitability for manufacturing with the X-FAB processes

•   Potential contestants are notified regarding acceptance/rejection of their proposal.   Modified proposals can be submitted until the proposal deadline, if a original proposal is not accepted.

•   Accepted contestants must sign an NDA with X-FAB to obtain documentation on the X-FAB PDKs

Click to review detailed application procedure

Deadline for detailed proposal submission

December 31, 2016

•   Review of proposal submissions by sponsors between December 31, 2016 - February 28, 2017

Acceptance notification

February 28, 2017

•   Accepted teams are expected to have access to Cadence tools and are provided with Coventor MEMS design software for the duration of the contest (until December 31, 2017) at no cost

•   Contestant teams start detailed design work

•   Coventor, Cadence and X-FAB will provide online workshops and design reviews for all teams

Final design submission deadline

December 31, 2017

•   Designs are reviewed by a jury selected by the sponsors.

Announcement of Finalists

February 28, 2018

CDNLive EMEA2018 Award Ceremony

May 2018

Detailed Design Requirements

  1. The solution can include two designs:
    • MEMS device in X-FAB XMS10 or XMB10 technology
    • Mixed-signal MEMS-driver and read-out logic ASIC in X-FAB XH035 or XH018 HV CMOS technology
  2. Teams may design both a MEMS and CMOS device, design a CMOS device only (using an available MEMS device template from X-FAB), or design and package a MEMS device only.    All of these alternatives are acceptable contest submissions.

  3. Two design groups (one for MEMS, one for logic) can apply as a single contestant.

  4. Contestants should leverage the use of both the Coventor and Cadence PDKs, as well as the Coventor and Cadence design environments.

  5. Teams should create a proposal, implement a schematic, simulate the design, produce a design layout of the solution, co-simulate both designs to show their functionality, and present the simulation waveforms and the layout at the end of the project.

    We will provide a presentation template that can be used to present the results of your design

Application Procedure

Online Registration and Proposal Submission:

  • Potential contestants should register on-line and provide a proposal of their project.

Proposal Review:

  • Organizers will review the feasibility and scope of the team's proposal, and determine if the team's project can be successfully completed using the XFAB PDK and Coventor/Cadence design tools.   

  • Proposals will be reviewed by the organizers.  Design groups with acceptable proposals will receive a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) from X-FAB.

  • Once the NDA is signed, the contestants will obtain access to the XMB10 and XMS10 process design kit (PDK) documentation.

The deadline for the Proposal Submission is December 31, 2016.

Design Phase:

  • Design groups who pass the proposal stage will be invited to participate in the contest, and will be provided with access to the full XFAB PDKs and Coventor's MEMS design software at no charge for the duration of the contest.  Contestants can obtain Cadence software through normal distribution channels, or contact Cadence directly if they do not currently have a Cadence software license.
  • In order to familiarize design groups with MEMS/mixed-signal co-design, workshops and support will be provided  to the contestants by the organizers.

After the design phase, the jury will select the winning teams
Register Now

Evaluation Criteria

The solution will be judged by a jury from industry and academia and based on the following criteria:

  • Degree of innovation in the proposed MEMS/ASIC hardware

  • Degree of innovation in the proposed MEMS/ASIC design methodology

  • Novelty of the application of the proposed MEMS/ASIC design

  • Educational value

  • Demonstration/PR value

  • Organizational value

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Related Information

  • MEMS Design Contest Overview

Video | Presentation

  • PDK Based Design Automation Enablement for MEMS and CMOS Processses

Video | Presentation

  • Coventor tools for modeling and simulation of MEMS

Video | Presentation

  • MEMS design flow using X-FAB XMB10 process and MEMS+ PDK with Cadence/Coventor software tools

MEMS Process Limitations | Presentation

  • Academic MEMS Goes Fabless: The Masdar Institute Perspective


  • MEMS-ASIC Co-Design Flow


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