Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Micron Imaging Becomes Aptina Imaging

Yahoo: Micron launched Aptina Imaging, creating an independent division and new identity for its CMOS imaging business. It's said that "operating as an independent division provides Aptina with more manufacturing flexibility." It's not immediately clear whether this flexibility allows Aptina to use other foundries.

Bob Gove is named the President of Aptina. Sandor Barna is VP of Marketing.

Aptina announced 1.4um pixels based on 95nm Cu process, featuring improved pixel scale optics. Aptina will begin sampling to customers the products designed on the 1.4um pixel in summer 2008. Aptina also revealed that it is producing color images taken with a 1.2-micron pixel prototype in the lab. No performance parameters are given for 1.2 and 1.4um pixels.

Aptina also presented 9MP sensor based on 1.75um pixel. Its speed is 15fps at full resolution or 30fps in 720p mode - this is what PR says. Interesting that the product flyer only claims 9fps speed at full resolution. Aptina said it received production orders from name-brand Japanese DSC manufacturer.

Yet another technology announcement deals with wafer level camera (WLC), integrating optics with sensor on the wafer level. It's claimed to shrink camera solutions, or modules, by more than 50 percent when compared to existing camera solutions. The first product using WLC technology is VGA module measuring 4mm x 4mm x 2.5mm.

There is also a nice launch press kit with product flyers and sample pictures.

But the most interesting portion of the announcements is an absense of any mention of the new investors. EETimes published a hint, possibly explaining this strange omission:

"In an interview last week, Mark Durcan, Micron's president and chief operating officer, reiterated that the company plans to "separate" its CMOS image sensor business, but he declined to comment on the specifics. "We continue to drive that business as a separate entity," he said. "We may do that on a wholly-own basis by Micron or we may look for other investors as we move through time."

So it looks to me that Micron was unable to attract investors to its loss-making division and went on its own when spinning it out. Actually it remains a division of Micron, albeit under different name.


  1. 1.4um pixel, 1.2um pixel, what's next? Is there a theoretical or optical limit on how small a pixel can be? Maybe this is like the Moore's Law, every once a while people say the end is near, but engineers always find ways to move beyond.

  2. My opinion is the scaling would go on well beyond 1um. There are various approaches on how to make and how to use these small pixels.
    Eric Fossum has a nice idea on gigapixel imager with dynamic resolution, described on his site.
    Another possibility is demonstrated by Keith Fife's 3D imager on EIC 2008, where the extra pixel count is used to add a depth domain to the picture. It is based on 0.5um pixels.

  3. It's very telling that Micron's COO announced that their new fab would be located in Boise, but that they were unable to announce a timeline. In other words, Micron will "build it when the money comes."

    It must be painful to not be in control of one's own destiny in the very competitive memory market.

  4. Hi image sensor. Anyway to contact you in private? because your email seems not to be working.

  5. The email in my profile is supposed to work. At least I get mails from time to time. However, as I tested after your post, the sending just stopped working. I hope myway.com will fix this problem eventually. In the meantime you can use gmail address image.sensors.world@gmail.com


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