Monday, October 27, 2014

Galaxycore Announces TSI Technology Developed with TSMC

GalaxyCore, the largest CMOS sensor fabless company in China, announces it successfully developed Through-Silicon-Illumination (“TSI”) technology for image sensor manufacturing on 12-inch wafer based on TSMC 90nm process, and will commence volume production shortly.

GalaxyCore owns wide scope of of TSI technology IP, including analog design, pixel layout, and pixel-related process technology. The TSI applies to manufacturing of image sensors with pixel size of 1.75um to 1.1um, and will further extend to 0.9um pixel size node. GalaxyCore expects to launch 5MP, 8MP and 13MP TSI products in 2014 and 2015.

TSI technology features:

  • High performance: TSI significantly improves sensitivity and signal-noise ratio, meanwhile it significantly reduces thermal noise, dark current, and crosstalk.
  • High speed and low power: TSI technology adopts 90nm TSMC technology with fine-tuned process parameters. Combined with the optimal analog and digital design, it is said to achieve high speed and low power consumption at the same time, which leads to high frame rate as well as low thermal noise (probably, due to less heating).
  • Cost efficiency: By utilizing Galaxycore's proprietary pixel process technology, TSI is said to achieve excellent image performance with fewer process steps.

We are very excited about the timely success in TSI technology development and its outstanding performance revealed so far,” said GalaxyCore CEO Zhao Lixin, “I would like to thank TSI R&D team in GalaxyCore for their excellent job and thank TSMC for their great supports. We will promptly launch 5-Megapixel, 8-Megapixel and 13-Megapixel image sensors utilizing this TSI technology with 1.1 – 1.4um pixel size in the next a few months. We dedicate to offer high performance and cost efficient world-class image sensors products for the fast-growing market of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Slideshare gives a snapshot of GalaxyCore business from Feb. 2014:


  1. What is through-silicon illumination? I can guess several things, but might as well just ask. Is this the TSMC stacked sensor technology?

    1. I guess this is Galaxycore's version of 90nm BSI.

      Another interesting thing is that the company's sales are $303M for 865M units, meaning the ASP is a little more than 30 cents per unit. Looks like VGA is still going strong in China.

    2. Yeah, the nice thing about being a China company is you can get government grants, government land, cheap labor and sell below what anyone else can bare. Then if you get in trouble financially you bribe your local politician and get a "loan" from a bank and hide the books until you do your IPO. Then you can bribe more politicians (put a few on your board, give their kids VP slots) and keep the gravy train of money coming in without really having to worry about that BS capitalistic " profit" or "margin" stuff. Since your main customers are also Chinese, and you are providing kickbacks and bribes to keep the business, you don't even have to worry about someone else coming in and taking your market share as long as you keep the kick-backs rolling.

    3. Your analysis is exact!
      How western economies compete with this nation-capitalism model? What is the loophole of this system?

    4. Brilliant analysis! :D

      You forgot one detail: Very common (especially in the Donguan area): Special "services" (typically located in the basement of hotels which can be easily mistaken as karaoke bars or massage salons) to make your business partner do what you want.

      Maybe some in this forum know the story about Donguan: During my first visits there I was shocked by the size of this "service sector" (not coincidentally the province of large parts of the Chinese semicon / electronics industry). After this trip I read a lot about it, incl. that ~ 10% of all tax income of Donguan came from this "service sector". This was even a bit too much for The Party (remember: prostitution is illegal in China). So they decided to pursue a big PR stunt in April: They shut down everything in Donguan that was even closely related to "nightlife", literally EVERYTHING (even normal bars). Then, one trip to Donguan later in May, we could not even have a beer at our hotel anymore (they also shut down normal hotel bars). So we ended up having a can of beer in the lobby.

      Thinking about this story, ..., lots of other stories come to my mind. Maybe we should start a sub-section "What's the most unbelievable bribery story you've ever experienced in China". ;) I'm sure there'll be LOTS of funny stories coming up... ;)

    5. I think TSMC codeveloped BSI with Omnivision. Aptina tried to let TSMC produce BSI image sensors. It went nowhere probably because of this relationship. Is Galaxycore renaming BSI to TSI so TSMC does not feel the need to fulfill its obligation with Omnivision?

  2. Replies
    1. Maybe they can call their legacy sensor TMI (Through Metal Illumination) or TGI (Through Glass Illumination).


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