Monday, July 06, 2020

TSMC Builds a Dedicated 28nm Fab for Sony Orders

IFNews reports that TSMC will build a OEM production line exclusively for Sony to produce high-end CIS in 28nm process at the Nanke 14B fab. Also, TSMC is planning to build a new CIS packaging capacity in Zhunan. The plan will be officially started in the beginning of July 2020. It is expected to be completed in mid-2021 and costs NTD300B. In the past, the 14B fab in Nanke used to manufacture 12nm and 16nm chips for HiSilicon, Nvidia, and Mediatek.

Chinese-language UDN site writes (in Bing translation):

"Japanese sources familiar with the situation revealed that TSMC and Sony are very confidential about this cooperation, the two sides signed the first batch of cooperation content at the beginning of this year, first in TSMC Nanke 14A plant for Sony to build a monthly production of 20,000 pieces of CIS foundry line, cooperation is very smooth, Sony further asked TSMC to provide exclusive, equal to the contract factory area, monthly orders and increase several times.

TSMC is actively engaged in the "Cage for Birds" project in order to meet this "super-large single", including the purchase of the Nanke plant adjacent to TSMC, and asked Homeden to move at the fastest speed, that is, to split the 14B plant and 14A plant public plant, in order to create 14B plant for Sony's higher-level CIS replacement plant.

Japanese people familiar with the situation revealed that Sony is already TSMC customers, the past cooperation to logic chip-based, early this year Sony changed the past CIS full home-made strategy, breaking the ground will be CIS to TSMC power workers, by force TSMC all-out market occupation, shocked the industry.

It is understood that Sony's previous CIS order to TSMC, is in TSMC South Branch 14A plant to 40 nanometer process production, TSMC and for this purpose to purchase new equipment designated by Sony, is intensive installation, scheduled for August trial production, the first quarter of next year mass production, the initial monthly production capacity of 20,000 pieces.

Now the cooperation between the two sides extended to 28 nanometers, and decided to build Sony's exclusive foundry area at TSMC Nanke 14B, Sony is equal to the Bao-Yuan 14B plant, the number of orders will be 14A factory several times.

In the face of Samsung's close pursuit, Sony decided to expand its partnership with TSMC, hoping to win 60% of the global Market Share of CIS Image Sensors by 2025.

Chip-Scale Spectrometers Review

Nanophotonics publishes a paper "Visible to long-wave infrared chip-scale spectrometers based on photodetectors with tailored responsivities and multispectral filters" by Jasper J. Cadusch, Jiajun Meng, Benjamin J. Craig, Vivek Raj Shrestha, and Kenneth B. Crozier from University of Melbourne, Australia.

"Chip-scale microspectrometers, operational across the visible to long-wave infrared spectral region will enable many remote sensing spectroscopy applications in a variety of fields including consumer electronics, process control in manufacturing, as well as environmental and agricultural monitoring. The low weight and small device footprint of such spectrometers could allow for integration into handheld, unattended vehicles or wearable-electronics based systems. This review will focus on recent developments in nanophotonic microspectrometer designs, which fall into two design categories: (i) planar filter-arrays used in conjunction with visible or IR detector arrays and (ii) microspectrometers using filter-free detector designs with tailored responsivities, where spectral filtering and photocurrent generation occur within the same nanostructure."

Introduction to Gated Imaging for Automotive Applications

BrightWay Vision CEO Ofer David presents the company's gated vision technology and explains how it works:

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Counterpoint: More than 5 Billion CIS for Smartphones Will Be Shipped this Year

Counterpoint Research estimates that the sales volume of CIS for smartphones increased eightfold over the past decade, reaching more than 4.5b units in 2019. Senior Analyst Ethan Qi, notes, “Although the strong growth momentum is expected to soften amid the pandemic fallout, thanks to the irreversible trend towards multi-camera setups and the spreading adoption of 3D sensing systems, the smartphone CIS segment will likely still register high-single-digit shipment growth in 2020, hitting an all-time high of close to 5.0 billion units.

According to the findings of Counterpoint’s Component Tracker, each smartphone shipped in 1Q20 packed more than 3.5 image sensors on average. The growth is primarily driven by the rising penetration of quad-camera designs in the high- to mid-end smartphones, which jumped to nearly 20% during the period.

Commenting on the importance of camera in smartphones, Research Director, Tom Kang, says, “As camera function has become a key differentiator in smartphones, we expect the quad-camera feature will become a standard moving forward. Leading smartphone brands will continue enriching and enhancing the photography and video capture experiences, as well as exploring AR applications, by leveraging diversified lens and sensor combinations along with the increasing AI computing power.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Airy3D Talk about Marketing Strategy

Paul Gallagher, VP of Strategic Marketing at Airy3D, talks about challenges and solutions in marketing of the company's 3D platform in "Episode 4: Depth Perception" of The Launch podcast.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Insight to Velodyne LiDAR Business

It's official now: Velodyne LiDAR becomes a public company through reverse merging with Graf Industrial.

"Graf Industrial Corp. (NYSE: GRAF). GRAF and Velodyne have successfully raised $150MM in equity from a group of institutional investors, subject to completion of the transaction. This transaction is being structured as a reverse merger where existing Velodyne shareholders will own the majority of the go-forward company. The funds raised will be combined with up to $117M that GRAF had already raised from its existing investors. We are targeting to finalize the combination toward the end of Q3 2020, following approval by GRAF’s shareholders. At that time, Velodyne will become a publicly-traded company and we expect to be listed on the NYSE under a new ticker symbol, VLDR."

Why should it be interesting for everybody? Because Velodyne becomes the first pure-play LiDAR company that would disclose its financial results every quarter. Now, everybody can see how LiDAR business looks from inside and dynamics of the LiDAR market. The first public disclosure is below:

Optical Readout Thermal Imager

ResearchGate publishes a paper "Design and Optical Simulation of a Sensor Pixel for an Optical Readout-Based Thermal Imager" by Ambali Odebowale and Mohamed Ramy Abdelrahman from King Saud University.

"In this paper, we present an optical design and analysis of a single pixel element detector in an optical readout-based infrared imaging system. The proposed thermal imaging system contains no readout integrated circuitry and thus can be considered as a low cost alternative to typical thermal imaging systems. In this paper, we present the design and optical simulation details for a fabry perot cavity filter (FPCF)-based sensor configuration operating in the transmission mode at 650nm and as a Long Wave Infrared (LWIR) absorber in the 8000nm-12000nm band. The temperature tuning of the FPCF resonant frequency is dependent on the thermo-optic sensitivity of its cavity layer. The performance of the FPCF sensor is considered at different cavity layer thermo-optic coefficients (TOCs) and for different thermal scene temperature variations. The proposed sensor was found to be sensitive to 25mK thermal scene temperature variations."

Thursday, July 02, 2020

SWIR Upconverting Camera

MDPI paper "Up-Conversion Sensing of 2D Spatially-Modulated Infrared Information-Carrying Beams with Si-Based Cameras" by Adrián J. Torregrosa, Emir Karamehmedović, Haroldo Maestre, María Luisa Rico, and Juan Capmany from Universidad Miguel Hernández, Spain, Universidad de Alicante, Spain, and International University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina proposes 1550nm imaging with Si-based sensor:

"Up-conversion sensing based on optical heterodyning of an IR (infrared) image with a local oscillator laser wave in a nonlinear optical sum-frequency mixing (SFM) process is a practical solution to circumvent some limitations of IR image sensors in terms of signal-to-noise ratio, speed, resolution, or cooling needs in some demanding applications. In this way, the spectral content of an IR image can become spectrally shifted to the visible/near infrared (VIS/NWIR) and then detected with silicon focal plane arrayed sensors (Si-FPA), such as CCD/CMOS (charge-coupled and complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor devices). This work is an extension of a previous study where we recently introduced this technique in the context of optical communications, in particular in FSOC (free-space optical communications). Herein, we present an image up-conversion system based on a 1064 nm Nd3+ : YVO4 solid-state laser with a KTP (potassium titanyl phosphate) nonlinear crystal located intra-cavity where a laser beam at 1550 nm 2D spatially-modulated with a binary Quick Response (QR) code is mixed, giving an up-converted code image at 631 nm that is detected with an Si-based camera. The underlying technology allows for the extension of other IR spectral allocations, construction of compact receivers at low cost, and provides a natural way for increased protection against eavesdropping."

"The system can be miniaturized down to a quasi-monolithic robust architecture around 4 cm3 and built at a low cost with standard commercial components, resulting lightweight, and favoring field-deployable IR eye-safe links, although it is easily extensible to the MWIR and LWIR spectral regions."

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Yole Forecasts Gold Rush in Thermal Cameras

i-Micronews: "The Covid-19 pandemic has induced a gold rush in the thermal imaging and sensing industry. All over the world, various media outlets, smaller or larger – even media behemoths – have written pieces about this technology.

We thought that it wouldn’t be too outrageous for people to measure their body temperature frequently using a smartphone that happens to be constantly in their hands. At other times, this would sound like a niche smartphone feature. But in the new era during and after the pandemic, it could prove as a helpful tool to have.

Therefore, at the beginning of June 2020, Huawei subsidiary Honor announced the Honor Play 4 smartphone, which integrates an infrared temperature sensor. According to Honor, the infra-red (IR) detector has a measurement range of -20°C to 100°C, which is more than enough to cover the human body’s range of potential temperatures. It promises an accuracy of 0.2°C, considered to be well within fever detection requirements. This looks like a medical-grade sensor. From the photo shown here in Figure 2, we believe that there is a possibility that the detector might be the newest Melexis thermopile sensor MLX90632. The specifications also fit with the product sheet. Or at least, it could be a sensor from another manufacturer that has very similar specs with the Melexis one.

The question however, remains: Is consumerization of thermal imaging/sensing technology imminent? We would dare to answer yes, but only when it’s a simple sensing function, if only temperature is read, for example from the forehead, using a cheap, robust and qualified IR detector. Thermopile technology could work just fine. This wouldn’t differ much from usual forehead thermometers. It’s just that the measurement guidelines are slightly changed by using a smartphone. On the other hand, thermal imaging would take some time. It’s a matter of educating properly consumers on how to interpret and read a thermal image. People might not be ready yet, and costs for this technology to reach the masses for daily use might still be high. Nevertheless, thermal imaging and sensing technology can surely continue to be, among others, one line of defense against Covid-19, regardless of implementation.

Smartphone 3D Sensing Modules Comparison

SystemPlus Consulting publishes "Smartphone 3D Sensing Modules Comparison 2020."

"The consumer 3D sensing module market is expected to reach $8.1B in 2025 from $2B in 2019, according to the “3D Imaging & Sensing 2020” report from Yole Développement. The main driver technologies are Time-of-Flight (ToF) for photography enhancement and Structured Light (SL) for facial recognition. From 2016 to 2019, a total of 22 smartphones integrating a 3D sensing module have been released, 13 with SL and 9 with ToF.

In this dynamic context, System Plus Consulting provides a deep comparative review of technology and cost of 11 3D sensing modules found in flagship smartphones, with a focus on Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) and Near Infra-Red CMOS Image Sensors (NIR CIS).

Qualcomm Smartwatch Platform Supports 16MP Camera with 1080p30 Video

Qualcomm announces Snapdragon Wear 4100 smartwatch platform that features dual ISP with support of 16MP camera with 1080p30 video: