Thursday, October 30, 2014

ST Officially Closes Camera Module Business

ST Micro Q3 2014 Earnings Report talks about cost-cutting measures in its imaging business:

"We are discontinuing our commodity camera module products, while reinforcing our imaging efforts on prioritized customer projects and opportunities."

"Effective in the fourth quarter of 2014, the existing Digital Convergence Group (DCG) and Imaging, Bi-CMOS and Silicon Photonics Group (IBP) will be combined under one single organization, called Digital Product Group (DPG). DPG will focus on ASSPs addressing home gateway and set-top box, as well as FD-SOI ASICs for consumer applications; FD-SOI and mixed process ASICs, including silicon photonics, addressing communication infrastructure; and differentiated imaging products.

In parallel, ST announced a plan to achieve $100 million in annualized savings, upon completion of the plan during the course of the third quarter of 2015. A portion of the savings coming from the identified initiatives will leverage the synergies from the combination of the DCG and IBP product groups. Other new initiatives include the disengagement from ST’s commodity camera module products as part of the re-positioning of ST’s imaging strategy and a global workforce review within the Embedded Processing Solutions perimeter to affect about 450 employees worldwide.

Electronics Weekly talks about the possible layoffs at ST's Edinburgh, Scotland site, although they do not appear to affect the imaging group.

CMOSIS Achieved 2,580% Growth in 5 Years

CMOSIS: Deloitte Rising Star Event and Technology Fast50 Award Committee recognized CMOSIS for the 2nd place among the fastest growing companies in Belgium. CMOSIS has achieved 2,580% growth in 5 years.

Lattice Semiconductor, Fairchild Imaging and Helion Vision Demo FPGA-Based Image Sensor Solution

BusinessWire: Lattice Semiconductor, Fairchild Imaging and Helion Vision demonstrate a new image sensor solution based on Fairchild Imaging’s HWK1910A image sensor and Helion Vision’s IONOS IP cores at VISION 2014 in Stuttgart, Germany, November 4-6.

Lattice HDR-60 Video Camera Development Kit utilizes the Fairchild HWK1910A image sensor, a Lattice ECP3TM FPGA and Helion Vision’s IONOS Imaging pipeline. The solution delivers up to 120dB DR in a single frame at 30fps. Other security camera systems typically stack frames to achieve WDR, causing negative side effects such as image blur, reduced frame rate and decreased integration times. Those issues are solved by the capabilities of this trailblazing solution.

The HDR-60 showcases the strengths of the HWK1910A sensor, including its exceptionally low read noise and its massive intra-scene dynamic range,” said Vern Klein, Director of Marketing and Sales, Fairchild Imaging. “We are excited to be part of this ecosystem of Lattice and Helion Vision to deliver the high-performance imaging technologies from Fairchild Imaging.

Our HDR-60 based reference design enables OEMs to quickly evaluate the HWK1910A image sensor and develop and roll out high-definition camera systems with excellent low-light and WDR performance ideal for security, surveillance and intelligent transportation applications,” said Kambiz Khalilian, Marketing Director, Industrial and Automotive Solutions, Lattice Semiconductor.

Fairchild Imaging HWK1910A sCMOS 2.0 Sensor

Interview with Pelican Imaging CTO publishes a 18 min-long interview video interview Pelican Imaging’s Founder and CTO Kartik Venkataraman where he discusses strengths and weaknesses of the company's array camera technology.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

e2v Launches Low Noise, High Sensitivity Onyx Sensors with 5.3um Global Shutter Pixels

e2v launches the first member of its Onyx family of low-light CMOS sensors for outdoor camera applications where illumination budgets are restricted and industrial machine vision applications where high-speed inspection is required.

The new Onyx EV76C771ABT/ACT is a 2/3-inch 1080p 2MP CMOS sensor featuring lower readout noise than e2v’s previous Sapphire and Ruby CMOS sensor families. The Onyx 5.3┬Ám pixels have improved global shutter with Parasitic Light Sensitivity of 4000:1, a higher full well for a wider linear dynamic range, and some non-linear modes to enable image scenes well in excess of 100db to be captured. It also features an on-chip temperature sensor.

e2v also offers the ProxOnyx module, which forms a convenient demonstration platform for customers requiring only the sensor. The ProxOnyx board solution offers some unique and exclusive application features to enable active imaging in fog, smoke and other diffusing environments as well as a Digital Double Sampling (DDS) feature for less than 6e- of total readout noise in global shutter mode, and real-time WDR for imaging in the harshest of climatic conditions.

The Onyx 2MP full HD image sensor will be sampling from mid-November onwards, and full production is planned before the end of this calendar year, with further market variants planned for the near future.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

MTF vs Aperture

Albert Theuwissen continues his series of tutorials on MTF. The latest part discusses the MTF change dependence on the lens F#.

Forza Announces Reconfigurable Image Sensor Technology

Business Wire: Forza Silicon announces a fully reconfigurable image sensor design with multiple programmable features and functions in a single chip. This flexibility provides a platform, which can be used to connect smart sensors to the Internet and enable a variety of “Internet of Things” (IoT) product applications.

The reconfigurable image sensor can be programmed to perform multiple monitoring and decision-making tasks at the sensor “edge.” It can be configured to integrate into different product applications and can be reconfigured to include more features and capabilities in the existing device.

The new image sensor enables a range of I/O and processing functions. The programmable logic can be configured to enable camera functionality not supported by existing microprocessor chips. It is configurable for different system interfaces [network connections (Ethernet/Wi-Fi/Bluetooth), memory processors, PC, USB] and image processing [color, HDR, motion detection, object/facial recognition, other biometric applications]. The onboard ADC is adjustable for different frame rates, power conservation and noise limits for improved performance.

Additionally, the reconfigurable image sensor architecture allows the manufacturer to provide upgrades to product firmware through its network connection in which product features are added or enhanced. The value of this feature has already been documented in instances where existing IoT devices did not have a reconfigurable capability requiring either the disarming of a product feature or product recall.

To demonstrate the sensor’s capabilities, Forza Silicon developed a platform in which a single reconfigurable sensor device was used in tandem with a smoke detector to monitor, detect and stream video confirmation of a fire event within a household to the homeowner’s mobile phone. The device integrated a compact, low-power image sensor with a low-power MachXO2-7000 FPGA from Lattice Semiconductor. The customizable Lattice MachXO2-7000, with its high functional density, was particularly well suited to this application’s high-bandwidth, low-latency requirements, minimizing power and network bandwidth needs.

The sensor’s expansive programmability enables the next generation of smarter applications in the car, home, factory, environment and more,” says Barmak Mansoorian, president and co-founder at Forza Silicon. “Our reconfigurable image sensor technology can facilitate endless possibilities for smart applications in this growing network of sensors, from smart cars to smart electricity grids.

A Youtube video explains the reconfigurable technology features:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Galaxycore Announces TSI Technology Developed with TSMC

GalaxyCore, the largest CMOS sensor fabless company in China, announces it successfully developed Through-Silicon-Illumination (“TSI”) technology for image sensor manufacturing on 12-inch wafer based on TSMC 90nm process, and will commence volume production shortly.

GalaxyCore owns wide scope of of TSI technology IP, including analog design, pixel layout, and pixel-related process technology. The TSI applies to manufacturing of image sensors with pixel size of 1.75um to 1.1um, and will further extend to 0.9um pixel size node. GalaxyCore expects to launch 5MP, 8MP and 13MP TSI products in 2014 and 2015.

TSI technology features:

  • High performance: TSI significantly improves sensitivity and signal-noise ratio, meanwhile it significantly reduces thermal noise, dark current, and crosstalk.
  • High speed and low power: TSI technology adopts 90nm TSMC technology with fine-tuned process parameters. Combined with the optimal analog and digital design, it is said to achieve high speed and low power consumption at the same time, which leads to high frame rate as well as low thermal noise (probably, due to less heating).
  • Cost efficiency: By utilizing Galaxycore's proprietary pixel process technology, TSI is said to achieve excellent image performance with fewer process steps.

We are very excited about the timely success in TSI technology development and its outstanding performance revealed so far,” said GalaxyCore CEO Zhao Lixin, “I would like to thank TSI R&D team in GalaxyCore for their excellent job and thank TSMC for their great supports. We will promptly launch 5-Megapixel, 8-Megapixel and 13-Megapixel image sensors utilizing this TSI technology with 1.1 – 1.4um pixel size in the next a few months. We dedicate to offer high performance and cost efficient world-class image sensors products for the fast-growing market of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Slideshare gives a snapshot of GalaxyCore business from Feb. 2014:

Gesture Recognition for Smart TV

PRWeb: MarketsandMarkets' report "Gesture Recognition For Smart TV Market 2013-2018" forecasts "the gesture recognition module in Smart TV is expected to reach $479.88 Million by the end of 2018 at a CAGR of 131.26%. The key players in the gesture recognition module in Smart TV market are Eyesight Tech (Israel), Leap Motion Inc. (U.S.), LG Electronics Inc. (South Korea), PointGrab Ltd. (Israel), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (South Korea), and many more."

Source: MarketsandMarkets analysis

Omnivision Launches Sensor for Security Applications

PR Newswire: OmniVision announces the 1/-3-inch 1.2MP OV9750 for security applications. Using OmniVision's latest 3.75um OmniPixel3-HS FSI technology, the OV9750 captures both visible and NIR video in HD format at 60fps at 10b bit output or 45fps at 12b output.

"The OV9750 reflects OmniVision's ongoing commitment to developing innovative, high-performance imaging technologies for the fast-growing surveillance markets," said Paul Gallagher, senior director of marketing and business development. "The OV9750, a dedicated security image sensor, comes to market at a time when traditional analog CCTV cameras are quickly transitioning to 960H resolutions. At the same time, HD analog and IP cameras continue to see strong consumer and commercial demand. Tailored for these market trends, the OV9750's advanced capabilities are calculated to provide a considerable competitive advantage for surveillance solutions as the market continues to develop."

The OV9750 fits into a 6.3 x 5.2 mm package. It is currently available for sampling and is expected to enter volume production in the beginning of 2015.