Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Avago 1.3MP Sensor Article

EETAsia published an article on Avago ADCC-3000 image sensor.
The ADCC-3000 enables a true 8-by-8mm low-profile module with a z-height of 5mm to 6mm. "Today's Mpixel sensors cannot support a thin module because they are usually quite large on the x and y dimensions, which means the optical format (lens size) is large," said Feisal Mosleh, director of Avago's mobile imaging marketing. "If the lens is large so is the lens thickness which is the predominant factor in determining the z height."
Avago is also proud of its integrated ISP (I-Pipeline) claiming it outperforms others.
Avago was able to create a super thin lens by making advances in pixel design and sensor array layout design. "It's all about design, compression and efficiency of the layout," Mosleh said.
The ADCC-3000 1.3Mpixel sensor is priced at less than $3.25 each in quantities of 1,000,000. Samples and volume production are available in February 2006.
Samples and mass production simultaniously? - sounds too strange to me.

Monday, February 20, 2006

EMVA 1288 Standartize Sensor Performance Characterization

Vision Systems Design: European Machine Vision Association (EMVA) has endorsed EMVA 1288, a standard that's supposed to become definitive when specifying sensors and cameras. In its approach, the EMVA standard uses a number of modules to specify the parameters of a sensor or camera. Module 1 specifies the sensitivity, quantum efficiency, dynamic range and noise, Module 2 highlights the linearity, artifacts and defect pixels of the image sensor, Module 3 talks about color.

"The standard defines exactly the measurement setup, the measurement acquisition procedure, the parameter computation, and the data presentation. This makes it possible to reproduce the results on different sites such as the manufacturer and the customer. Further, the user knows that all presented data is acquired at the same operating condition-contrary to specifying, for example, sensitivity at maximum integration time, and the dark signal nonuniformity (DSNU) at minimum integration time. The chosen set of mandatory parameters and the presentation of the raw measurement data further permits the customer to compute additional quantities necessary for his application, rather than having to physically test a set of cameras to find out which ones can reach the performance."

The official draft of the EMVA 1288 standard can be accessed at www.emva.org.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Micron Buys a Fab to Expand Sensor Production

Micron purchased an 8-inch fab facility from Zilog Inc. in Nampa, Ida. for $5 million, including 38 acres of land (EETimes).
Micron plans to invest in facility improvements and expects to bring the facility online by the end of the year. The fab will be responsible for "final steps" of image sensor processing and other critical manufacturing steps.
Last quarter Micron’s CMOS image sensor sales were $153.8 million, up 36 percent over the like period a year ago. The sensor business represented 11.3 percent of its overall sales.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

3GSM Congress Announcements

A slew of new sensors were introduced in recent days on 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona.
Omnivision announced 3MP OV3630DZL module for camera phones in 1/3.2" format (Sys-Con Media). The module size is 9x9x7mm.
Also, after quite a long delay Omnivision starts volume production of OV7670 VGA and OV9655 1.3M CameraChips (Sys-Con Media).
Avago and Magnachip announced 1.3MP sensors each. Both have 2.8um pixel size, same 15fps full resolution speed, both have integrated ISP (EETAsia and Yahoo-Finance).
Kodak also announced 1.3MP sensor targeted to camera phones, part number KAC-01301 (NE Asia Online).
It looks like 1.3MP camera-phone sensor market gets extremely crowded and difference between the products is not that significant.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

New 1.3MP Module from ST

ST Micro announced a new 1.3MP module with ISP (part number VS6624). Pixel size is 3um, which is translated to 1/3.7" format. No claims made about its performance, other than 15fps speed at full resolution.
Interesting enough, the module does not have SMIA interface, which ST co-authored with Nokia. It looks like ST is trying to enhance its customer base beyond Nokia.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Transchip Exposition on 3GSM World Congress

Sys-Con Media Reports: Transchip presents quite a few interesting innovations in its TC7040 camera phone module line:

AF solutions:

- Voice-coil technology, using a NanoFocus' HYSonic actuator that offers high reliability with a small footprint
- Electro-wetting technology using the Varioptics Arctic(TM) liquid lens, which can focus at extremely close distances, such as 4 centimeters, with no moving parts
- Piezo electric technology using the Johnson Electric's NanoLens(TM) highly accurate actuator, which provides fast convergence in less than one second
- Piezo electric technology using 1's low power Helimorph(TM) actuator
- Extended focus technology, enabling all parts of image to be in focus without moving the lens.

Zoom solution:

- 3x optical zoom feature, using Johnson Electric's NanoZoom(TM) lens module

This is a good example that smaller companies are often more agile than big juggernauts.

New 1.3MP SOC Sensor from Magnachip

Magnachip puts out a new sensor every second month or so. This time this is MC511DA 1.3MP SOC Sensor (PRnewswire). The pixel size is 2.8um - quite large for a camera-phone sensor these days.
Frame rate is 15fps full resolution and 30fps at VGA resolution. It uses dual supply analog 1.8V and 2.8V, probably to save power and reach 140mW consumption at full resolution full frame rate.
Samples are available now with mass production early Q2 2006.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

In-Stat Report on Camera-Phones

Digitimes: Less than a third of camera phone owners surveyed by In-Stat indicated that they share picture messages with friends. Once people start using their new phones, they are turned off by perceived poor picture quality, slow network speeds, and the difficulty of creating and sending pictures.
There will be from 300-850 million mobile users that will send at least one image per month across the carrier network by 2010, according to the report. However, only one in 20 camera phone users prints pictures or stores them on carrier-provided websites, indicated the report. 28% of current camera phone owners actually share pictures using messaging service, compared with nearly 60% who hoped to before purchasing their camera phones, the report observed.
According to a November 2005 report by IDC, global camera phone shipments will climb from 270 million units in 2004 to nearly 766 million in 2009, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.2%. However, total mobile phone shipments worldwide are estimated to grow at a CAGR of 7.1% from 2004 to 2009, when the shipments will total 998 million units, the report pointed out.
Below is the forecast of camera-phone shipments, as compiled by Digitimes:

SMIC Starts Mass Production of VGA Sensors

Yahoo-Finance: From SMIC Q4 Report: SMIC starts volume production of 0.18um Color-VGA CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) wafers [2005-12-07].

First MIPI-Compliant Sensor Ever

Yahoo-Finance: Micron announced 2MP 1/4" sensor with MIPI interface (part name MT9D112).
"A one-quarter inch, 2-megapixel sensor design is the industry sweet spot," said Bob Gove, vice president of Micron Technology, Inc.'s imaging group.
The sensor that supports both a parallel interface as well as the MIPI serial interface (both CSI-2 and D-PHY). The pixel pitch is 2.2um.
The sensor contains an integrated microcontroller that achieves efficient image processing, global reset to avoid image tearing, and pixel binning for enhanced image viewing. The microcontroller also adjusts color and performs other image processing functions, including auto focus.
The speed of the sensor is 15fps in full resolution and 30fps in video mode.
General customer sampling is planned for April 2006, with mass production expected in August 2006.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Squiggle Optical Zoom Module

Photonics-Spectra: New Scale Technologies Inc. presented a new optical zoom module for mobile phone cameras at Photonics West 2006. It uses the company's piezoelectric Squiggle motor to achieve lens travel greater than 4 mm with better than 10 micrometer closed-loop repeatability (2.4 mm x 2.4 mm x 6.5 mm linear motor).
The Squiggle motor uses a threaded nut and screw to create precise linear movement in a very small space. Piezoelectric ceramics create ultrasonic vibrations in the nut, causing the screw to rotate and translate with high precision.

Friday, February 03, 2006

More Analysis of Sony and Fuji CCD Defects

NEAsia-Online has an excellent article on CCD defect timeline, reasons and consequences. Here is a picture from the article explaining the reliability estimation mistake:

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Transchip Sensors Offer Color Sensitivity from 1 Lux.

ThomasNet: AlgoCam(TM) TC7040 2MP camera module features exceptional color sensitivity in low lighting conditions. The imager samples are currently available and TransChip will begin mass production in Q1, 2006.
"AlgoCam(TM) TC7040 offers a number of enhancements in lighting sensitivity, including lower dark current noise and lower cross talk. It also has increased sensitivity to blue hues, as well as new radial anti-shading."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

ST Micro is the Biggest Camera-Phone Modules Supplier

Yahoo-Finance: According to the Prismark Partners LLC report on 2005 Camera Module Market, ST captured 16% market share and moved into first place among manufacturers of CMOS image-sensor modules for cellular phones.
ST is developing an extensive family of sensors using its latest 2.2. imaging technology.