Wednesday, April 13, 2011

EETimes Interviews David Orton, Aptina CEO

EETimes published a big 3-page article based on interview with David Orton, CEO of Aptina. Some interesting points in no particular order:
  1. Aptina will no longer develop its own proprietary process technology beyond the 90-nm node. The company will begin working with outside foundries at 65-nm and beyond. Orton did not say which foundries Aptina will work with in the future, although some believe TowerJazz Inc. could be the first one.
  2. Since Micron entered the CMOS image sensor business, its image sensor products have been made in Micron’s 200-mm fab in Avezzano, Italy. More recently, some of the production comes from a Micron fab in Nishiwaki City, Japan. TowerJazz recently proposed to buy the Micron's Nishiwaki City fab for $140 million.
  3. Aptina will still need to embrace a foundry that has 300-mm capacity and can process wafers at 65-nm and below.
  4. Aptina’s rivals, namely OmniVision and Samsung, are currently growing faster in the marketplace, according to Robert Lineback, an analyst with IC Insights. "Aptina has been stuck with Micron's older 200-mm memory fabs as a primary foundry source, and that has hampered their efforts at the leading edge," Lineback said.
  5. In 2010, Aptina was ranked third in worldwide CMOS sensor sales, with $619 million in revenue, up 15 percent over 2009, according to IC Insights. Aptina was behind No. 2 Samsung ($624 million in 2010 sales, +24 percent from 2009) and No. 1 OmniVision ($795 million, +51 percent), according to IC Insights. STMicroelectronics was No. 4 ($569 million, +36 percent), and Sony was No. 5 ($548 million, +27 percent from 2009, according to the firm.
  6. "Overall, the CMOS image sensor business grew 17 percent in the 2010 recovery year to $4.5 billion from nearly $3.9 billion in 2009, when revenues dropped 16 percent in the downturn," Lineback said. "Compared to the entire optoelectronics market and semiconductor industry, CMOS image sensors had a relatively weak recovery due to pricing pressures in camera phones and some inventory adjustments in late 2010." CCD image sensors registered an increase of 25% to $3.3 billion in 2010 from $2.6 billion in 2009 while overall IC sales grew 32% in 2010 to $314.2 billion, according to IC Insights. "We now see CMOS image sensor sales growing by 13 percent in 2011 to a new record-high of $5.1 billion, which will exceed the previous peak of $4.6 billion set in 2008," Lineback said.
  7. Aptina continues to accelerate its efforts in the 1.4- and 1.1-micron (and beyond) pixel-size race after falling behind the competition.
  8. In 2006, some 90% of Aptina sales were in the mobile front, where its customers included Motorola and others. Today, some two-thirds of the company’s sales revolve around non-mobile applications, such as automotive, digital still cameras, industrial/military and surveillance.
  9. Aptina's sensors are incorporated in Nintendo's new 3DS handheld.
  10. Aptina must play catch-up in the smartphone/tablet market. "We fell behind in key technology," Orton said.
  11. Aptina’s "90-nm process got delayed," Orton said. "It took us longer than we thought." The company began shipping CMOS sensors based on the 90-nm process in the second half of last year. But this in turn delayed its 1.4um sensors-a move that "hurt" its bottom line.
  12. Aptina's recently announced 1.1um BSI pixels are based on a 90-nm process.
  13. Aptina's first BSI product, the 1/3.2-inch 1.4-micron 8-MP AR0833 is expected to sample starting in mid-2011.
  14. In the second half of 2011, Aptina expects to sample 1.1-micron BSI products including a 12-MP 1/3.2-inch and an 8-MP 1/4-inch sensors.


  1. Should be Orton not Horton in title

  2. It should also be Orton in the lead sentence.

  3. Do the IC insight numbers make sense? I thought Sony and ST were far behind the top 3 in market share?

  4. Yes, especially STMicro: their business is clearly not growing as indicated. This analysis seems to be crap!


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