Monday, December 17, 2018

Ambarella Announces 8MP ADAS Processor

BusinessWire: Ambarella introduces the CV22AQ automotive camera SoC, featuring the Ambarella CVflow computer vision architecture for powerful Deep Neural Network (DNN) processing. Target applications include front ADAS cameras, electronic mirrors with Blind Spot Detection (BSD), interior driver and cabin monitoring cameras, and Around View Monitors (AVM) with parking assist. Fabricated in advanced 10nm process technology, its low power consumption supports the small form factor and thermal requirements of windshield-mounted forward ADAS cameras.

The CV22AQ’s CVflow architecture provides computer vision processing in 8MP resolution at 30 fps, to enable object recognition over long distances and with high accuracy. CV22AQ supports multiple image sensor inputs for multi-FOV cameras and can also create multiple digital FOVs using a single high-resolution image sensor to reduce system cost.

To date, front ADAS cameras have been performance-constrained due to power consumption limits inherent in the form factor,” said Fermi Wang, CEO of Ambarella. “CV22AQ provides an industry-leading combination of outstanding neural network performance and very low typical power consumption of below 2.5 watts. This breakthrough in power and performance, coupled with best-in-class image processing, allows tier-1 and OEM customers to greatly increase the performance and accuracy of ADAS algorithms.

SEMI Forecasts Fab Investment Drop

SEMI: Total fab equipment spending in 2019 is projected to drop 8%, a sharp reversal from the previously forecast increase of 7% as fab investment growth has been revised downward for 2018 to 10% from the 14% predicted in August, according to the latest edition of the World Fab Forecast Report.

However, image sensor fab spending remains a bright spot: "Opto – especially CMOS image sensors – shows strong growth, surging 33 percent to US$3.8 billion in 2019:"

Credit Suisse on Mobile Imaging Market

IFNews: Credit Suisse report on mobile phone market analyses the market trends:

"The CIS business continues to see a shift toward higher resolutions and multi-camera phones. Multi-camera phones accounted for 65% of iPhone and 44% of Android phone production in Jul–Sep 2018 in an indication that the trend is accelerating. We now assume a multi-camera weighting of 40% (previously 35%) for 2018 and 50% (45%) for 2019, including an increase from 7% to 10% for triple-camera phones in 2019. This represents a tailwind for profits at Sony (6758), as do improvement in the sales mix accompanying the shift toward higher resolutions and larger sensors.

While the smartphone market is looking sluggish overall, we expect continued profit growth for Sony's CIS business in 2H FY3/19 and out as the number of sensors per smartphone increases, the sales mix improves (higher resolutions, larger sizes), and the company gains market share in supplying Chinese smartphone makers. We think the business could continue to drive companywide profits in FY3/20 and remain generally expectant of its potential.

TOF sensors: In our report on the previous survey, we said that some module makers think the 2019 models are likely to incorporate rear time-of-flight (TOF) sensors, but some device makers regard this as unlikely. However, based on the current survey, we now think TOF sensors will probably be first adopted in the 2020 models rather than the 2019 models.

We said in our previous survey report that Samsung was targeting a multi-camera weighting of 50% (triple camera 20%, dual camera 30%) in 2019, but our latest survey indicates a growing possibility of a 70% target triple/quadruple camera 20%, dual camera 50%). Samsung appears to be currently planning for around 10 triple- or quadruple-camera models as well as phones with 5x zoom folded optics cameras and pop-up cameras. The company is considering megapixel combinations of 48MP-16MP-13MP and 48MP-10MP-5MP for triple camera models while also looking at 48MP-8MP-5MP, 32MP-8MP-5MP, and 16MP-8MP-5MP.

In CY19, we think the smartphone manufacturers will adopt triple-camera and triple/quadruple-camera systems on a full scale, mainly in their high-end phones, and we expect them to also build large 48MP sensors into their phones. We believe companies like Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi will consider adopting 5x-zoom folding optics systems. Regarding OISs, we project that the smartphone manufacturers will use CIS technology in their main cameras and shift to shape memory alloy (SMA) OISs and away from VCM type OISs in response to the increase in lens size.

Sony will likely be the sole supplier of 48MP sensors for the spring models. Samsung LSI 12MP/48MP-sensor re-mosaic technology is lagging, and we project that it will be mid-CY19 at the earliest before it is adopted in high-end phones. Consequently, we think Samsung LSI CISs that are 48MP in the catalog specs but 12MP in actual image quality will probably be used in midrange spring models. We think that in China, demand for 24MP CISs, mainly for phones with two front-side cameras, has reached around 100mn units per year. We think that in CY19, demand for 48MP CISs for rear-side cameras could increase to roughly 150mn units.

CIS supplies remain tight, particularly for 2/5/8MP CISs manufactured using an 8-inch process. Tight supplies of CISs for high-end models in CY19, owing to the transition to large 48MP sensors, are a concern.
"

Saturday, December 15, 2018

IEDM 2018 HDR and GS Papers Review

This year, IEDM had quite a lot of image sensor papers. Some of them talking about HDR and GS are briefly reviewed below:

1.5µm dual conversion gain, backside illuminated image sensor using stacked pixel level connections with 13ke- full-well capacitance and 0.8e- noise
V. C. Venezia, A. C-W Hsiung, K. Ai, X. Zhao, Zhiqiang Lin, Duli Mao, Armin Yazdani, Eric A. G. Webster, L. A. Grant, OmniVision Technologies

Omnivision presented two stacked designs with pixel-level interconnects. Design A has been selected as a more optimal from the DR point of view:


A 0.68e-rms Random-Noise 121dB Dynamic-Range Sub-pixel architecture CMOS Image Sensor with LED Flicker Mitigation
S. Iida, Y. Sakano, T. Asatsuma, M. Takami, I. Yoshiba, N. Ohba, H. Mizuno, T. Oka, K. Yamaguchi, A. Suzuki, K. Suzuki, M. Yamada, M. Takizawa, Y. Tateshita, and K. Ohno, Sony Semiconductor

Sony presented its version of Big-Little PDs in a single pixel:


A 24.3Me- Full Well Capacity CMOS Image Sensor with Lateral Overflow Integration Trench Capacitor for High Precision Near Infrared Absorption Imaging
M. Murata, R. Kuroda, Y. Fujihara, Y. Aoyagi, H. Shibata*, T. Shibaguchi*, Y. Kamata*, N. Miura*, N. Kuriyama*, and S. Sugawa, Tohoku University, *LAPIS Semiconductor Miyagi Co., Ltd.

Tohoku University and LAPIS present an evolution of their LOFIC pixel with deeply depleted PDs on 1e12 cm-3 doped substrate:


HDR 98dB 3.2µm Charge Domain Global Shutter CMOS Image Sensor (Invited)
A. Tournier, F. Roy, Y. Cazaux*, F. Lalanne, P. Malinge, M. Mcdonald, G. Monnot**, N. Roux**, STMicroelectronics, **CEA Leti, **STMicroelectronics

ST and Leti explain their dual memory pixel architecture:


High Performance 2.5um Global Shutter Pixel with New Designed Light-Pipe Structure
T. Yokoyama, M. Tsutsui,Y. Nishi, I. Mizuno, V. Dmitry, A. Lahav, TPSCo & TowerJazz

TowerJazz and TPSCo show their latest generation small GS pixel available for the foundry customers:


Back-Illuminated 2.74 µm-Pixel-Pitch Global Shutter CMOS Image Sensor with Charge-Domain Memory Achieving 10k e- Saturation Signal
Y. Kumagai, R. Yoshita, N. Osawa, H. Ikeda, K.Yamashita, T. Abe, S. Kudo, J. Yamane, T. Idekoba, S. Noudo, Y. Ono, S.Kunitake, M. Sato, N. Sato, T. Enomoto, K. Nakazawa, H. Mori, Y. Tateshita, and K. Ohno, Sony Semiconductor

Sony presented its approach to shielding the storage nodes in BSI GS sensor:

Alipay Uses 3D Structured Light Camera in its Facial Recognition POS

Ecns, ChinaDaily: China's Alipay announces a major upgrade to its 'Smile to Pay' service, aiming to make its facial recognition process more accessible to merchants and customers. The new version, called Dragonfly, is claimed to be just one-tenth the size of a traditional POS terminal. It includes a 3D structured light camera to improve facial recognition accuracy, and an upgraded processor to speed up payment time.

Tens of thousands of merchants across 300 cities in China offer Alipay's facial recognition payment.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Melexis Single-Chip ToF Solution Planned for 2019

Melexis teases its 3rd generation ToF sensor to appear in 2019. It is promised to be single-chip ToF solutions with VGA resolution:


Lumileds, Melexis' ToF illumination source partner, publishes a white paper "Infrared Illumination for Time-of-Flight Applications" comparing LEDs with VCSELs:

Lucid Vision Presentations

Lucid Vision presentations on Sony polarization sensors and ToF camera are published on Vimeo:



MIPI Releases I3C Basic v1.0 Spec

MIPI Alliance releases MIPI I3C Basic v1.0, a subset of the MIPI I3C specification that bundles the most commonly needed I3C features for developers and other standards organizations. MIPI I3C Basic v1.0 provides 20 key features from MIPI I3C, including:
  • Backward compatibility with I2C
  • A multi-drop bus that, at 12.5 MHz, is over 12 times faster than I2C supports while using significantly less power
  • In-band interrupts to allow slaves to notify masters of interrupts, a design that eliminates the need for a separate general-purpose input/output (GPIO) for each slave and thus reduces system cost and complexity
  • Dynamic address assignment to avoid conflicting static addresses, providing flexibility and pin savings
  • Standardized discovery, and bus configuration and control
  • Uses standard low-cost pads and requires minimal cost in logic to support
We have seen tremendous interest in I3C from the mobile ecosystem. Now, with I3C Basic, the broader developer community can immediately and efficiently begin using these capabilities as an alternative to I2C,” said Joel Huloux, chairman of MIPI Alliance. ”In addition, we are already working with several standards organizations to integrate I3C Basic into their specifications. We believe it provides tremendous value to mobile and many other industries in multiple ways.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

WiLAN Licenses CIS Patents to Omnivision and ON Semi,

PRNewswire: WiLAN, a Quarterhill company, is "one of the most successful patent licensing companies in the world and helps companies unlock the value of intellectual property by managing and licensing their patent portfolios."

Wi-LAN announces that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Collabo Innovations, has granted a non-exclusive license with respect to CMOS image sensor products sold by OmniVision. The consideration payable to Collabo by OmniVision and all other terms of the agreement are confidential.

"Since we acquired the Collabo portfolio from Panasonic Corporation in December of 2013, we have made substantial progress," said Keaton Parekh, WiLAN's President and CEO. "Licensees to Collabo's patents for CMOS Image Sensor and semiconductor packaging technologies include ON Semiconductor Corp., Toshiba Corporation, STATS Chip PAC Ltd., Powertech Technology Inc., and now OmniVision."

Mediatek P90 SoC Imaging Capabilities

Mediatek unveils its high end P90 application processor for smartphones, aimed to compete with Qualcomm's SD 855. The new processor has an impressive imaging capabilities:

"MediaTek Helio P90 lets you capture the best pictures ever with support for a supersized 48MP camera or 24+16 MP dual cameras, bringing consumers the highest resolution advanced smartphone photography. Users can capture at 48MP with up to 30 frames per second (FPS) with zero shutter delay, or enjoy super slow-motion at 480FPS in HD to capture every moment. MediaTek brings a resolution revolution to imaging with upgraded triple image signal processors (ISPs) capable of 14-bit RAW and 10-bit YUV processing so photography enthusiasts have even more flexibility to capture and process stunning photos.

The new ISP AI engine, specially designed to provide AI camera experiences, can accurately detect faces and scenes in real-time under low light and motion conditions, making a great shot easier than ever for any user.
"

K-Lens Startup Presents its 3D Camera

German startup K-Lens presents its lens extension that allows 3D depth image capture with a single lens and a sensor:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Pixels with Deeply Depleted PDs

9th International Workshop on Semiconductor Pixel Detectors for Particles and Imaging, PIXEL2018, being held these days in Taipei, Taiwan, publishes Sensor Creations Stefan Lauxtermann presentation on deep depleted pixel challenges and rewards:

Front Camera-Less Vivo Phone Officially Announced

PRNewswire: The rumor about dual display Vivo phone that eliminates the need in front selfie camera has been officially confirmed.

"With an additional 5.49-inch Super AMOLED display gracing the phone's back, NEX Dual Display Edition successfully delivers an unconventional smartphone experience by allowing greater flexibility in using the rear cameras. Snapping high-quality selfies is now easier than ever before, as users can simply use the main cameras along with the rear screen to get the perfect angles for selfies."

On the rear of the phone, there are 3 cameras:

"NEX Dual Display Edition's triple camera setup consists of a 12MP Dual-Pixel main camera (featuring a Sony IMX363 sensor and 4-axis OIS), a specialized Night Video Camera and an innovative Time of Flight (TOF) 3D Camera.

The three cameras make the perfect combination for capturing beautiful moments and taking selfies from any angle. The pro-level Night Video Camera helps users film clear and stable footage in motion and low-light environments, while the TOF 3D Camera empowers users to see the world with an added dimension. Its 3D sensing capabilities not only enables point-to-point distance measuring, but also supports 3D Modeling of the user's face for enhanced facial recognition, protection and personalized beautification.
"

PhoneArena publishes nice explanatory pictures of the new phone:

Rumor: Sony to Announce 38MP Sensor For Smartphones

DeviceSpecifications reports a rumor that Sony is about to announce 1/1.8-inch 38MP sensor for smartphones. The new sensor is said to have a number of interesting features:
  • Quad Pixel Phase Detect AF (QP2DAF)
  • Ambient Light Sensor (ALS)
  • 24fps speed at full resolution
  • Dual sensor synchronization
  • Dual Bayer and White HDR coding pixel array

Monday, December 10, 2018

Gigajot Raises $4m

Gigajot files a form on completion of $4m fundrising. Not much more info has been revealed so far.

CEA-Leti Curved Sensor Technology Flyer

CEA-Leti Pixcurve technology flyer promotes the technology:

"Pixcurve is a proof of concept, introducing Leti’s latest curving technology for various optical components, such as visible imagers, µdisplays, bolometers and IR detectors. This technology addresses companies’ growing interest in a range of curved optical components that will help them achieve higher levels of performance and compensation for optical aberrations, while minimizing the vignetting effect and enhancing field of view. It makes cameras, imagers or microdisplays even more compact and easy to assemble."

Facial Recognition Controversy

The Verge, Independent, Seattle Times: AI Now Institute consisting of Microsoft, Google and New York University employees publishes "AI Now Report 2018" talking about dangers of facial recognition for society. The group calls on governments to regulate the use of AI and facial recognition technologies before they can undermine basic civil liberties.

Microsoft President Brad Smith posted a similar message in the company's blog:

"We believe it’s important for governments in 2019 to start adopting laws to regulate this technology. The facial recognition genie, so to speak, is just emerging from the bottle. Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues. By that time, these challenges will be much more difficult to bottle back up.

After substantial discussion and review, we have decided to adopt six principles to manage these issues at Microsoft. We are sharing these principles now, with a commitment and plans to implement them by the end of the first quarter in 2019.
"


ACLU: Department of Homeland Security published details of a U.S. Secret Service plan to test the use of facial recognition in and around the White House. The ultimate goal seems to be to give the Secret Service the ability to track “subjects of interest” in public spaces.

Voice of America, KCRA: Atlanta International Airport, which is the Delta Airlines hub, has become the first in the US to permit passengers to use facial recognition technology to get on flights. After the first check-in, passengers can also use face recognition to pass through security and to get on the plane. Delta says the system prevents the need for travelers to present their passport up to four times during the usual check-in process.


Singapore's Changi airport, Amsterdam's Schiphol, and Aruba International Airport already offer biometric check-in and boarding capability at some gates and terminals. Airports in Japan are rolling out facial recognition boarding facilities at several airports this year. China's Hongqiao International Airport is also using facial recognition for security screening. London's Heathrow plans to start testing an end-to-end facial recognition program next year.

FedScoop: A recent NIST research says that facial recognition accuracy has improved dramatically over the last 5 years:

"The technology has undergone an “industrial revolution” that’s made certain algorithms about 20 times better at searching databases and finding matches."

Sunday, December 09, 2018

CCD Dark Current Might Have Traces of Dark Matter

In the past, pixel dark current has been used for various purposes: identifying traps and defects (dark current spectroscopy), generating random numbers, measuring temperature, forensic picture analysis, random telegraph noise analysis, etc. One could think that nothing else can be in it. However, there appears to be one more thing. A recent Fermi Lab paper examines CCD dark current for the traces of Dark Matter.

Arxiv.org paper "SENSEI: First Direct-Detection Constraints on sub-GeV Dark Matter from a Surface Run" by Michael Crisler, Rouven Essig, Juan Estrada, Guillermo Fernandez, Javier Tiffenberg, Miguel Sofo Haro, Tomer Volansky, and Tien-Tien Yu:

"The Sub-Electron-Noise Skipper CCD Experimental Instrument (SENSEI) uses the recently developed Skipper-CCD technology to search for electron recoils from the interaction of sub-GeV dark matter particles with electrons in silicon. We report first results from a prototype SENSEI detector, which collected 0.019 gram-days of commissioning data above ground at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. These commissioning data are sufficient to set new direct-detection constraints for dark matter particles with masses between ~500 keV and 4 MeV."

Yonit Hochberg (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) review "Direct Detection of Dark Matter" explains the detection principle (DM means Dark Matter in the slides):


The Skipper CCD used in this experiment has been presented in 2017 Arxiv.org paper "Single-electron and single-photon sensitivity with a silicon Skipper CCD" by Javier Tiffenberg, Miguel Sofo-Haro, Alex Drlica-Wagner, Rouven Essig, Yann Guardincerri, Steve Holland, Tomer Volansky, and Tien-Tien Yu. The group was able to achieve an impressive performance, such as pixel dark current of 1 electron in 3 years:

"We have developed a non-destructive readout system that uses a floating-gate amplifier on a thick, fully depleted charge coupled device (CCD) to achieve ultra-low readout noise of 0.068 e- rms/pix. This is the first time that discrete sub-electron readout noise has been achieved reproducibly over millions of pixels on a stable, large-area detector. This allows the precise counting of the number of electrons in each pixel, ranging from pixels with 0 electrons to more than 1500 electrons. The resulting CCD detector is thus an ultra-sensitive calorimeter. It is also capable of counting single photons in the optical and near-infrared regime. Implementing this innovative non-destructive readout system has a negligible impact on CCD design and fabrication, and there are nearly immediate scientific applications. As a particle detector, this CCD will have unprecedented sensitivity to low-mass dark matter particles and coherent neutrino-nucleus scattering, while astronomical applications include future direct imaging and spectroscopy of exoplanets."

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Ambient Light Rejection in SPAD-based LiDAR

MDPI Special Issue The International SPAD Sensor Workshop publishes "Background Light Rejection in SPAD-Based LiDAR Sensors by Adaptive Photon Coincidence Detection" paper by Maik Beer, Jan F. Haase, Jennifer Ruskowski, and Rainer Kokozinski from Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems, Duisburg, and University Duisburg-Essen.

"In this paper we present a novel method based on the adaptive adjustment of photon coincidence detection to suppress the background light and simultaneously improve the dynamic range. A major disadvantage of fixed parameter coincidence detection is the increased dynamic range of the resulting event rate, allowing good measurement performance only at a specific target reflectance. To overcome this limitation we have implemented adaptive photon coincidence detection. In this technique the parameters of the photon coincidence detection are adjusted to the actual measured background light intensity, giving a reduction of the event rate dynamic range and allowing the perception of high dynamic scenes. We present a 192 × 2 pixel CMOS SPAD-based LiDAR sensor utilizing this technique and accompanying outdoor measurements showing the capability of it. In this sensor adaptive photon coincidence detection improves the dynamic range of the measureable target reflectance by over 40 dB."