Monday, January 23, 2017

Sony Kumamoto Fab after April 2016 Earthquake

Nikkei publishes a picture from Sony Kumamoto fab after the April 2016 earthquake. The damage is quite significant, explaining why it took Sony so long time to recover from it:

Sony fab after April 16, 2016 earthquake

"The clean room on the third floor was shaken far more intensely than it was designed to withstand -- 1,396 Gal versus 900 Gal, a gal being a measure of ground acceleration.

With the walls and ceiling damaged, equipment toppled and semiconductor wafers scattered around, "I thought we might have to withdraw from Kumamoto when I first stepped inside," said Yasuhiro Ueda, president of Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing, which runs the factory in the town of Kikuyo.

Rice University FlatCam Lecture

Austrian JKU publishes Rice University Professor Ashok Veeraraghavan webinar of flat cameras and long-distance imaging array cameras:

PerkinElmer Interview

MediSens posts an interview with PerkinElmer representatives talking about its medical image sensors developed in its London, UK design center (former Dexela):

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rumor: iPhone X to Feature Gesture Recognition, Optical Fingerprint Sensor

Mashable, Apple Insider, and Business Insider quote Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri claiming that Apple iPhone X, to be released this fall, is "to include some form of facial/gesture recognition supported by a new laser sensor and an infrared sensor mounted near the front-facing camera."

The iPhone X is said to feature a fingerprint sensor hidden under the OLED screen. "Apple may switch to Synaptec's optical-based fingerprint reader for the new Touch ID sensor, citing it as "currently the only workable solution" for detecting a fingerprint through a smartphone screen."

Just released Yole Developpement report "Fingerprint Sensor Applications and Technologies – Consumer Market Focus" too points to the optical sensing as one of contenders for under the screen fingreprint devices:

Thanks to AM for the link!

Forza on CIS Trends

Semiconductor Packaging News posts Forza Silicon President Barmak Mansoorian view on the image sensor market trends:

"This year we celebrate Forza Silicon's 16th anniversary in the business of delivering innovative custom CMOS image sensor (CIS) and IC design solutions.

Technological advancements in devices and architectures are still remarkable in the CIS marketplace. Stacked sensor design technology was once a new concept and is now a viable option in high volume applications.

Forza has been working on stacked CIS for several years and we believe it will dominate advances in the CIS marketplace for the next 3-5 years. While stacking has its challenges, Forza is developing custom stacking flows involving intelligent design choices and good product engineering to help our customers take advantage of enhanced technology options.

Additionally, while the cellphone camera has taken center stage with its upgrades we expect a strong response from the DSLR/digital still camera with high-speed 4K video and higher dynamic range. Its performance might also challenge the incumbents in the digital cinema and broadcast markets.

Lastly, as more devices get connected everyday, the Internet of Things (IoT) will remain an important application for the growing network of sensors. At Forza, we continue to look at ways to leverage the stacked chip technology for our customers while still focusing on power, pixel performance, yield, noise and other specific application requirements.

Panasonic Aims to Supply Organic Image Sensor to Tesla

Reuters: Panasonic CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga said in an interview that the company would like to adapt its organic photoconductive film CMOS sensors for automotive applications as they can capture high-speed moving objects without distortion. Panasonic believes that these sensors are a good fit for Tesla cars.

Light Co. Talks about L16 Camera Internals

Light Co. posts an update on the progress to mass production of its L16 multi-aperture camera, giving some details on its internal design:

"The ASIC is the “brain” of the camera and is what we use to control all of the L16’s camera modules. Consider that your traditional (non-computational) camera only has to control a single lens and a single sensor as you compose, focus, adjust and capture. The L16 requires simultaneous control of at least 10 discrete cameras (lens barrels, sensors, mirrors, etc.). Needless to say this requires an extremely advanced “brain,” which is why we designed a highly advanced ASIC specifically for this purpose.

There are 3 ASIC’s in each L16 Camera, each made using industry leading semiconductor processes. Each ASIC is comprised of a 533 MHz processor with multiple levels of internal caches and has up to 4GB of DDR memory support. Light has devised a proprietary MIPI data handling mechanism to be very power efficient. In fact, Light’s ASIC has more MIPI camera interfaces than any leading media or application processor in the semiconductor industry. In addition, each ASIC is loaded with Light’s exclusive lens, mirror, and sensor controls that enable the L16 to work its magic. The development of this chip marks major breakthrough and required an enormous amount of effort from the Light team.

Melexis Announces ToF Chipset and Evaluation Kit

Melexis announces a chipset and its evaluation kit for ToF 3D vision. Representing a complete ToF sensor and control solution, the chipset supports QVGA resolution and offers unsurpassed sunlight robustness and up to -40°C to +105°C temperature range operation, so that designers can test this automotive-qualified chipset.

The Melexis chipset includes MLX75023 1/3-inch optical format ToF sensor and the MLX75123, a companion IC that controls the sensor and illumination unit and delivers data to a host processor. The EVK75123 QVGA evaluation kit combines a sensor board featuring the chipset, an 12-LED illumination module, an interface board and a processor module:

The MLX75023 sensor has QVGA resolution and background light rejection capabilities of up to 120klux. This IC can provide raw data output in less than 1.5 ms, giving it capacity to track rapid movement.

Melexis also publishes a Youtube video with their ToF system demo:

Update: EVB pictures changed, as written in comments.