Wednesday, November 08, 2017

TowerJazz Technology Update

SeekingAlpha: TowerJazz Q3 2017 earnings call updates on the new technology developments in the company: 2.5um global shutter pixel, 100dB shutter efficiency, BSI and stacked sensors with stitching, engagement with a leading DSLR maker, and more.

"In the CMOS image sensor market we are investing today in technology for three main directions; next-generation global shutter technology for the industrial sensor market; Backside Illumination and stack wafers for the high-end photography market; and special pixel technology for the automotive market.

In the industrial sensor market we are working with several leading customers on the development of the 2.5 micron state-of-the-art global shutter pixel on the 65 nanometer 300 millimeter wafer size platform.

As you may recall, we previously announced the availability of our 2.8 micron global shutter pixel and 110 nanometer platforms, the smallest global shutter pixel in the world. This is still the case and our 2.5 micron pixel on the 65 nanometer 300 millimeter platform will continue our leadership in this area, providing an even smaller pixel and being then again lowest pixel size in the world and thus allowing higher sensor resolution for any given sensor size. The first tape out in this new platform is expected to happen by the end of this year.

One of the most important parameters or figures of merit of global shutter pixels is the shutter efficiency. Our shutter efficiency gets to 100 DB, which is several orders of magnitude higher than the competing 3 micron pixel in the market. This combined with our stitching technology allows us to take a large portion of the high industrial market, as well as even use this technology for high end photography, especially for video applications.

We believe that our current generation of global shutter technology on both 180 nanometer and 110 nanometer will continually grow, but will gradually be augmented and eventually replaced by this next-generation 300 millimeter technology enabling us to maintain our market edge for many years to come.

In the digital SLR market we engage with one of the leaders in the world in the development of their next-generation sensors. And in parallel on track with our 300 millimeter Backside Illumination stack wafer technology development with outstanding pixel performance.

Our first silicon runs of full stack wafer flow for the circuits on the bottom, CMOS wafer and the pixels are on the top CIS wafer show improvements of more than 2x and quantum efficiency with only slight increase of dark current in the 2.4 micron pixels.

We expect to bring the dark current to the same outstanding level we already show in front side illumination about 10 electrons per second at 60 degree Celsius in the next silicon run. This technology will be ready for customer tape out in Q1 next year so customer designs are going to start very soon on this platform.

Lastly in the automotive area, we have developed both SPAD Single Photon Avalanche Diodes state-of-the-art technology, as well as ultrafast global shutter pixels for automotive solid-state light hour based on time-of-flight principal.

Our SPAD show very large dark -- very low dark signals at the same level as discrete SPAD devices, but with the advantage of full integration with CMOS circuits, allowing low-cost, low power consumption and system on chip capabilities.

We have engaged with several companies among them one of the most promising in this area in the development of automotive light hour and expect to be a major player in this market in the future.

In autonomous vehicle we will require multiple sensors or if you will sensor fusion, combining the capabilities of radar light hour and standard albeit advanced CMOS image sensors to accurately identify and enable real-time classification of all images within the field of view of interest. Our expertise in these three areas puts us in the strong position to take advantage of this anticipated high growth market.

In addition, we recently announced a partnership with Yuanchen Microelectronics, a manufacturer for advanced CMOS image sensor backside elimination process for manufacturing in Changchun, China.

This partnership allows us to provide our customers with advanced BSI technology in mass production for high end CMOS image sensors starting in mid-2018. This is the first time BSI will be offered by a foundry to the high end photography market, including large formats requiring stitching.

The new BSI technology will be utilized for high end photography automotive, augmented and virtual reality sensors, as well as other growing CIS markets. We are excited with the potential from this partnership, which further enhances our leading CIS offerings.

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