Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Samsung Demos BSI Sensors

Business Wire: Samsung announced two new 1.4um CMOS imagers, the 1/4-inch 5MP S5K4E5 and 1/2.33-inch 14.6MP S5K2N1, adopting BSI pixel technology. S5K4E5 is optimized for smartphone applications, while S5K2N1 is targeted to DSCs and digital video cameras (DVC). The imagers have been demonstrated at the seventh annual Samsung Mobile Solutions Forum held in Taiwan om Sept. 7th.

Samsung’s new BSI imagers are said to show 30% enhancement in low light sensitivity over conventional front side illumination imagers of the same pixel size.

The imagers are designed to support full resolution 30fps and 1080/60fps video modes. The S5K4E5 has a wider CRA that reduces the height of the imager package making it attractive for slim, small form factor smartphones with demanding z-height requirements.

The S5K2N1 is said to leverage Samsung’s low-power 90nm logic process technology. Samsung is able to offer a dedicated thermal enhanced plastic lead ceramic carrier (TePLCC) package to more effectively dissipate the heat generated by the high performance device.

Samples of the 5Mp S5K4E5 are available now with mass production starting in the fourth quarter of this year. The 14.6Mp S5K2N1 is expected to start sampling in the Q4 2010 with production scheduled in Q1 2011.

19 comments:

  1. Sony was first, omnivision got it mobiles, samsung joins the party, where is Aptina :P

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  2. aptina's a-pix technology has allowed it to deal with sensitivity issues and get as good of sensitivity w/ fsi as bsi pixels. however, it admits it will need to use bsi for 1.1um and smaller pixels to deal with sensitivity issues. i believe i heard that aptina has a joint venture w/ advasense to work on a dynamite 1.1um pixel.

    please don't forget that despite the lack of hype surrounding aptina last year, it was number 1 based on revenues in the cis space according to yole. and even though there was a thick fog of hype surrounding ovt last year, it was number 4.

    if there was a hype contest, ovt would be the winner for every year it's been in existence.

    semiwiz

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  3. Probably not good for OVT or Sony that Samsung has announced a mass production start date. OVT is paying top dollar to TSMC for the BSI process and Sony is its own ecology. It will be interesting to see how the fabless model works for a process that is no longer unique nor supported by relatively high ASPs.

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  4. If the business is significant, TSMC will compete directly with Samsung through OVT. If it is a cost war, it is TSMC versus Samsung, not OVT versus Samsung. And TSMC will probably win.

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. The last comment was removed due to a personal attack.

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  7. Samsung claims 30% enhancement in low light sensitivity over conventional front side illumination imagers of the same pixel size. Omnivision gets 40%! Also why Samsung and Aptina can not produce a low light sensitivity number like Omnivision or Sony? Are they hiding their weaknesses?

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  8. Eric, aren't you doing some work for Samsung?

    As I understand it VisEra, which is a joint venture of Omnivision and TSMC, is doing the wafer thinning and the secret sauce for Omnivision's BSI.

    There is more crazy attacks toward Omnivision....makes a guy wonder about the motives.

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  9. Eric,
    The fabless model has works wonderfully for non-unique processes for 25 years, why would you think it would fail now?
    Omnivision is TSMC's proxy into the image sensor market; I'm sure that TSMC would not commit suicide by holding wafer prices high in the face of Samsung competition.

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  10. There is a chinese expression : riding on a tiger. This means that we can easily ride on and run fast but it's not that easy ride off the tiger !

    All CIS Fab are facing the same dilemme today. The process development cost is so high and the final CIS price is so low, besides these special process can only be used for CIS products. Compared to standard logic or mixed mode products, the margine and gain are low.

    We have rided on a fast tiger now, but you get off the tiger, you will be eaten by this tiger ... Just to see who can hold at the end !

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  11. Yes, no secret I work for Samsung SRC on advanced image sensor R&D, at least thru the end of 2010. But I have almost no knowledge of CIS BSI business at Samsung except what I read publicly. I do recall TSMC saying in 2009 that their long term target was 30% additional COST for the BSI process. I wonder if they have hit the yield targets yet to get to that point. So, when a company like Samsung, that has more cash these days than anyone can imagine gets to mass production, it is going to get ugly from a pricing point of view. When a process is unique, it can support a higher ASP, whether at the wafer level or final product level. Once there is strong competition, the ASP is obviously going to drop and the question is if OVT's fabless model as a non-diversified company, is going to hold up well from its investors' point of view. How much of the ASP erosion for BSI will TSMC share? I have no inside knowledge and just wondering out loud what the next year or two will bring.

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  12. Eric,
    Good sensible response.
    I guess I see the entire fabless business based on non-unique processes and technology yet companies like QCOM,BRCM and dozens of others manage to generate 50% gross margins even after TSMC takes their 40% margin.
    Owning and running those Samsung fabs is not free.
    I find it hard to believe that handset competitors will willingly buy from Samsung, Thereby financing thier own demise.
    I think the vertical integration of Samsung is a potential threat, yet vertical integration has not been much of an advantage in the electronics business....seems like it should be but I can't think of a case where it has been.
    I could certainly see a TI or QCOM buy OVTI....a bigger stretch would be for Apple or HTC to buy them.

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  13. Samsung operates its business units separately and most of their customers see it this way: samsung techwin, semco, samsung lsi...all separate. For example, samsung techwin buys from Sony and Aptina.

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  14. Don't TSMC and OVT have significant IP to protect against Samsung BSI? TSMC and OVT are the leaders of this innovation.

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  15. Does this rumor have any value? (in news today) - Samsung interested in acquiring OVT for around 32 to 34 price per share.

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  16. Interesting. Would you mind to post a reference?

    To me it looks highly improbable. What Samsung can get from Omnivision? Also, Samsung does not have a history of acquisitions. In semiconductorss it only acquired Seoul Semiconductor in 70s and Transchip some 3 years ago.

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  17. here is the link - http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2010/09/16/rumor-mill-roundup-akam-bcsi-ovti-gain-on-takeover-talk/?mod=yahoobarrons

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  18. Thank you for the link. Still, to me this rumor looks highly improbable.

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  19. Goog God, there are some silly responses on this blog - little knowledge of this industry's dynamics and BSI. Response #15 is even funny. OVTI and TSMC are not the industry leaders regarding BSI IP. Sony is. Sony was working on BSI for CCD 12 years ago and ported to CIS the moment they closed their CCD production. Micron also had this in the lab 10 years ago. BSI is not new. The wafer thinning processes and equipment for make it happen are. Ask Samung who they fear the most; OVTI of Sony, it's Sony. We are just barely at the tipping point of BSI development and adoption because BSI is not relavant for >1.2 pixel pitch for S/N - below Nyquist. Eric is right again....there will be a margin squeeze next year into 2012. Samsung will be busy fulfilling orders for its own Galaxy SP and Tablets V2 - Android 3.0 and others. Also, there is plenty of precedent for vertical integration in mobile descrete components, with more looking forward. Look at adoption of QComms Sanpdragon app processor with embedded baseband processing, Samsung embedded memory on it's Hummingbird app processor, NVidia embedding 10 co-processors on it's Tegra II.

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