Monday, July 23, 2012

ESPROS Announces QVGA ToF Imager

ESPROS Photonics Corp. emailed me its July 2012 newsletter announcing its new QVGA ToF sensor, the epc660. It's not published elsewhere on the web, so here is a complete quotation:

"epc is continuously working on expanding its TOF imager product line. Within the next few years, we will offer a complete family of imagers and camera-on-chip products to cover a broad range of industrial applications. With the next family member – the epc660 – we decided to step right to the top end of the resolution range. The epc660 TOF imager will have a pixel field with a whopping QVGA (320x240 pixels) resolution.

The epc660 features a 20x20μm pixel size. This pixel size and a modular architecture allow for a small chip size that can be competitively priced. And with the small chip size, we enable our customers also to cut cost on their lens and system design and to come up with very compact and cost-effective camera systems. The pixel architecture also lays base for a platform concept that will allow us to derive further imagers with different resolutions in a very efficient way. More members of the epc6xx family are already in the development pipeline.

Our new flagship TOF imager has a footprint of only 9x9 millimeters. The symmetrical floorplan contains the actual pixel field in the center of the chip. The distance data is delivered over a digital TOF-camera interface to an external controller. As with the epc610, the complex demodulation of the returned light is completely done on-chip. A set of user-selectable measurement modes and features are implemented. The user can switch to an accurate mode when distance resolution is key. On the other hand, the speed mode allows frame rates of up to 70 full distance frames per second. Resolution reduction modes for even more speed, binning for increased sensitivity and ROI functionality complete the feature list of this nifty device.

As with all epc TOF devices, the LED controller and driver are fully integrated on the chip. For the majority of the applications this internal driver is sufficiently powered to provide the LED current needed for the active scene illumination. Due to the superior performance of our underlying ESPROS Photonic CMOS process, the required illumination power is orders of magnitude lower when compared to current state-of-the-art TOF camera systems. Consequently, only a fraction of the LED's are required.

The epc660 TOF imager is scheduled for market introduction in 2013. It will open a broad range of applications where resolution is key. Volumetric mapping of objects in the millimeter range at a fraction of the price of current systems allows for completely new approaches in logistics or manufacturing. Near field surveillance tasks with high spatial resolution like in vehicle collision avoidance systems or robotic control systems are further fields of interest. Not to speak of touch-less man-machine interfaces, these days known as gesture control. We believe that the epc660 will define the benchmark in the industry for high-resolution TOF imaging. And it will soon be supported by more TOF products to match the user requirements in an optimal way.

epc660 Floorplan


  1. They are changing their business model now. Who dares tapeout design at this foundry? But the question is: can they generate enough volume to fill their fab?

  2. It seems that they use MAGIC as layout tool. Many young designers may don't know this famous tool developped by Berkely.

  3. Albert TheuwissenJuly 24, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    "Due to the superior performance of our underlying ESPROS Photonic CMOS process, ..."
    This statement does not automatically mean that they are using their own CMOS process in their own fab ! So to me it is not clear which fab is used for this sensor.

    1. They have presented CMOS 0.18um offer at different symposiums. Why do you think that they have used a CMOS process other than theirs please ?

      -yang ni


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