Wednesday, October 31, 2007
It had been prevented from entering such businesses under a 2002 bailout, which led to a Citigroup Inc. buyout fund acquiring the Korean chipmaker's non- memory unit to help stave off bankruptcy. "To compensate for lost time, Hynix's likely option is to partner with a bigger maker or a fabless design manufacturer," said Lee Sun Tae, an analyst at Meritz Securities Co. in Seoul, without naming potential candidates.
"We are aiming to enhance our presence in the image sensor area," a Samsung spokeswoman told Reuters.
This is Samsung's first foreign acquisition in the semiconductor area since 1997, the company said.
Update: International Herald Trubine says that The Korea Economic Daily newspaper reported the purchase price was $70M.
Digital Chosunilbo: Reborn as the Samsung Semiconductor Israel R&D Center, the company works on CMOS image sensors and has some 60 staff.
Globes: Sources inform that Samsung plans to expand the R&D center, which currently has 70 employees, and might also expand its activity to new fields.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
As in the previous quartery report, there is a mysterious "services" statement: "the Company provided approximately 2.2 million image sensors arising from its supply of services to a leading Japanese module maker".
In terms of combined figures, the Company sold and supplied a total of about 6.4 million image sensors in the third quarter of fiscal 2007.
Gross margin for the Q3 2007 was roughly 26%, compared to approximately 36% in the Q2 2007.
The Company is fully focused and committed to obtaining a major design win to supply its PO4010 CIF SoC sensors for use in upcoming, high volume mobile camera phones of one of the world's largest mobile phone manufacturers based in Korea. PO4010 is currently in the final stages of testing and inspection by the Korean mobile phone manufacturer, and the Company is confident that it will be in a position to secure a design win in Q4 2007 and ship its PO4010 to that Korean manufacturer starting in the Q1 2008. PO4010 uses 0.13um process and features a 3.6um pixel - quite an interesting combination.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
One interesting statement is that SiliconFile reports that its CIS devices have been designed into more than 70 handset models manufactured in Japan and in the Asia-Pacific region. Also, SiliconFile cites strategic relationships it developed with Samsung.
Another examples of Korean success are ISP vendors Core Logic and MteK Vision, whose market capitalization in KOSDAQ have exceeded their paid-in-capital by more than 100 times.
P.S. Oops, it was published in January here in the blog. Now we are starting to see the results of these design-ins in the market share.
Friday, October 26, 2007
All these Hynix fears are very exaggerated, in my opinion. Even if Hynix becomes a strong competitor in the end, it has a very long road ahead.
Personally I do not believe in this. "Me too" products unlikely change the market, while more distinctive imagers take a long time to develop.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
0.25um process offers 3.3V CMOS while 0.18um process offers both 1.8V and 3.3V transistors. In addition to the core CMOS, the process supports poly resistors and linear MIM capacitors at densities of up to 4fF/um2. The CMOS cryogenic modeling library has been validated at temperatures of 78K to 298K through a wide range of DC and AC tests. Resistors and metal parasitic effects are also modeled at 78K, enabling full post layout simulation under cryogenic conditions.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
This investment should allow Siimpel to accelerate the production of its MEMS based AF solutions for handset cameras.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"We will increase the portion of new businesses to a maximum of 40 percent in terms of sales by 2017. The start of the complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) or CIS businesses is the first step toward the long-term goal," Hynix spokesperson Park Hyun told The Korea Times.
Hynix once dominated about 50 percent of the market before selling MagnaChip, The Korea Times writes.
"We cannot survive only with a focus on memory. So we urgently need to diversify our portfolios," Hynix CEO Kim Jong-kap said.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Sang-Soo Lee was brought to the company a few years back to improve technology positioning of the image sensor maker. I believe it's a bad sign that he left now.
In a separate strange announcement Pixelplus says that it sold its Taiwan subsidiary stake to some unknown party.
Friday, October 19, 2007
"Not only has the megapixel race not slowed down in the past year, it has actually accelerated," comments Steve Hoffenberg, director of Lyra's Consumer Imaging Intelligence.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The upcoming image sensor, named NPS, is targeted for digital camera applications, Mei said. An earlier Chinese-language Commercial Times report cited ProMOS as saying that high-end sensors will be fabricated at a 12" fab in Taiwan, whereas low-end models will be fabricated at the ProMOS' new 8" fab in China at 0.18um.
Pixart noted that its sensor has gained orders from MediaTek, implying that its exposure in China is set to expand along with MediaTek's growing influence in the China handset market.
Pixart updated that it is the first design house in Taiwan to introduced 4T image sensors. The sensor supports VGA resolution and shipments have been already started to China-based handset customers following volume production in the third quarter.
Since Pixart uses UMC as a foundry, it means that UMC has mastered 4T pixel design, finally.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
ViTi uses 0.35-micron CIS process and employs Tower pixel IP.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
The sensor has 100K pixels, 10um each. Its QE for visible light is said to be approximately twice of that of crystalline Si photodiode. Assuming that good Si photodiode in large pixel approaches to 60-70% QE, I wonder how Rohm doubles that.
The major remaining issue is how to miniaturize the sensor. The pixel in the latest prototype is a 10um. In the technology used for the latest development, grooves between the adjacent elements are made after the formation of CIGS layer. "We need to develop a more sophisticated technique to miniaturize the picture element blocks," Rohm said.
Friday, October 05, 2007
38.1 A 0.5μm Pixel Frame-Transfer CCD Image Sensor in 110nm CMOS, K. Fife, A. El Gamal, H.-S. Philip Wong, Stanford University
Keith Fife was the key person in Smal Camera startup. He has many bright ideas and every his paper is certainly worth reading.
38.2 Development of a Production-Ready, Back-Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor with Small Pixels, T, Joy, S. Pyo, S. Park, C. Choi, C. Palsule, H. Han, C. Feng, S. Lee, J. McKee, P. Altice, C. Hong, C. Boemler, J. Hynecek, J. Lee, D. Kim, H. Haddad, and B. Pain, Magnachip Corp.
Backside illumination is the future of imaging, the only question is when this future becomes reality. Many companies look in this direction. It's interesting to see what is the pixel size that Magnachip was able to achieve. I'm eager to see the results of its sensors, such as pixel crosstalk in blue and image lag.
38.3 Two-Transistor Active Pixel Sensor for High Resolution Large Area Digital X-ray Imaging, F. Taghibakhsh, K.S. Karim, Simon Fraser University
I'm not sure why transistor count is important in X-ray sensors. The pixels are supposed to be big, it should be sufficient room for as many transistors as needed.
38.4 Fully Implantable Retinal Prosthesis Chip with Photodetector and Stimulating Electrode Array, T. Tanaka, T. Kobayashi, K. Komiya, K. Sato, T. Watanabe, T. Fukushima, H. Tomita, H. Kurino, M. Tamai, and M. Koyanagi, Tohoku University
38.5 3D real-time CCD imager based on Background-Level-Subtraction scheme, Y. Hashimoto, F. Tsunesada, K. Imai, Y. Takada, K. Taniguchi*, Matsushita Electric Works, Ltd., *Osaka University
Thursday, October 04, 2007
How come that IDM Micron with fully depreciated fabs and low wafer price lost money? Combine this with a rumor that another IDM Samsung lost money too in its image sensor business.
And who is earning money? - Fabless Omnivision!
To me this is another nail into a coffin of IDM's superiority myth.
A new context switching feature adds a second register bank, so that two applications with separate imaging needs--like intelligent headlamps and lane departure warning--can operate from a single sensor on alternating frames.
Improved HDR control extends the range of the sensor's knee points to adjust to images containing both brightly lit scenes and relative darkness, such as experienced when exiting a tunnel on a bright, sunny day.
Micron is currently sampling the MT9V023 now, with mass production expected in Q1'2008. Vehicles equipped with this new sensor are expected to hit the roadways in mid-2008.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
In May quarter the Image Sensor business lost money on an operating basis. The situation in the most recent quarter will be reported in K form later.
Imaging business has been down, so no more DRAM capacity is converting to image sensors now. If the situation improves, the conversion process would start again.
On imaging business spin-off side Micron says that it's still exploring the alternatives. In any scenario, Micron intends to continue to manufacture sensors at the silicon level, so spin-off would not include fabs.
Regarding the sensors transition to 300mm wafers Micron responds that it would come eventually but not in the nearest two, maybe three years.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Its integrated ISP processes all the usual camera pipeline functions at speed of up to 144 million pixels per second, that is up to 12fps at 12MP resolution.
The only thing preventing this processor from winning the mainstream is availability of 12MP mobile sensor. The current generation of pixels allows to do this in 1/2" format. Sould we expect such a sensor soon?
Monday, October 01, 2007
TCV technology reduces wire bonding substrate area by mounting components directly on the wafer and running electrodes through the vias on the circuit board, securing them with balls of solders on the substrate.
Toshiba in-house CMOS camera module production plan and specification overview
Module size (mm)
Cell size (micron)
Frame rate (fps)
15 (UXGA)/30 (VGA)
Production amount (million)
Mass production schedule
Update Feb. 14, 2008:
Datasheetblog nicely organized the information on this with a picture of the new package:
"The fill factor of SiliconFile’s ¼-inch 3M CISs no longer has the plain-old 4T architecture, and has increased from 30 to 60 percent through the propriety shared pixel of the company. Sensitivity degradation, which occurs in smaller pixels, has dramatically improved."
"The company further notes, that as makers shrink the pixel size of their CIS products, enhancing resolution using low light has become a major concern. Hence, makers, most large companies, have developed a technology for processing less than 90nm."
With that advanced pixel technology it's no wonder that Siliconfile takes quite a remarkable market share of 7.5%: