- 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.
- 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.
- Aptina will still need to embrace a foundry that has 300-mm capacity and can process wafers at 65-nm and below.
- 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.
- 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.
- "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.
- Aptina continues to accelerate its efforts in the 1.4- and 1.1-micron (and beyond) pixel-size race after falling behind the competition.
- 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.
- Aptina's sensors are incorporated in Nintendo's new 3DS handheld.
- Aptina must play catch-up in the smartphone/tablet market. "We fell behind in key technology," Orton said.
- 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.
- Aptina's recently announced 1.1um BSI pixels are based on a 90-nm process.
- Aptina's first BSI product, the 1/3.2-inch 1.4-micron 8-MP AR0833 is expected to sample starting in mid-2011.
- 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.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
EETimes published a big 3-page article based on interview with David Orton, CEO of Aptina. Some interesting points in no particular order:
Posted by Vladimir Koifman at 10:51