Thursday, March 11, 2021

ON Semi Celebrates Performance of its PYTHON Sensors in NASA Perseverance Mission

ON Semi is proud to report the good performance of its sensors used in NASA Perseverance mission:

"The Perseverance mission has a total of 23 cameras, 19 of them are mounted on the rover itself and 16 of those are intended to be used by the rover while it is on the surface. The remaining seven cameras, both on the rover and the entry vehicle, were there largely to support the EDL phase [Entry, Descent, Landing process] of the journey. Of those seven cameras, ON Semiconductor supplied the image sensors for six of them.

Three of the cameras, designated Parachute Uplook Cameras (PUC), were used purely to observe the parachute as it opened on the descent. Two of the other cameras, designated Rover Uplook Camera (RUC) and Rover Downlook Camera (RDC), provided similar insights and operated at 30 fps for the whole of the EDL period.

The sensors used in the PUC, RUC and RDC are the PYTHON1300, a 1.3 megapixel, ½ in CMOS image sensor with 1280 by 1024 pixels. Together, all three cameras captured over 27,000 images during the ‘seven minutes of terror’.

The sixth ON Semiconductor image sensor now residing on Mars is a PYTHON5000, a 5.3 megapixel image sensor with a 1 inch area and pixel array of 2592 by 2048 pixels. This sensor is used in the Lander Vision System and is referred to as the LCAM. This camera has a field of view of 90° by 90° and provides the input to the onboard map localization Terrain-Relative Navigation system."

The PYTHON series of industrial vision sensors has been designed in the company's design centers in Mechelen, Belgium and in Bangalore, India.

16 comments:

  1. ON Semi celebrates by laying off the design team!

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  2. Albert Theuwissen - Harvest ImagingMarch 11, 2021 at 7:44 PM

    This is o so painfull, although I have no links at all with the group in Mechelen : with one hand celebrating the success, with the other hand firing the people.
    This really hurts me as an imaging colleague and I was really shocked to read this. In the past at Philips I also had to lay off people, luckily only once, but we did this with MUCH more respect to our ex-co-workers.

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    1. The expected outcome of years of below-average American-centric leadership w/o any long-term vision, in combination with a complete lack of corporate governance/ethics.

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    2. National bashing has no place in this forum and I also disagree with the comment about lack of governance and ethics. Just because we don't know the logic behind the decision does not mean it was poorly thought out. But it does show the danger of companies that grow by aggregating other companies. In this case, it started with Fill Factory selling out to Cypress (which I am sure was rather financially attractive to the Fill Factory founders). For whatever reason, Cypress sold it at a significant loss to ON. ON, in turn, has apparently decided it could not justify its continued operation with that group. Technically it is, of course, a decent group. But in the end it is mostly about business. Don't forget that. And I suspect the sensor engineers will wind up ok working for some other company.

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    3. Incidentally, "Ethisphere announces ON Semiconductor as one of the 2021 World’s Most Ethical Companies for the Sixth Consecutive Time" just a couple of weeks ago:

      https://www.onsemi.com/PowerSolutions/newsItem.do?article=1000876

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    4. They may have a high ethical ranking, but it is a company that cares about shareholders and customers, but never employees.

      I was with Aptina during the acquisition. Keith Jackson came to our San Jose offices (which later were closed and everyone got moved to the unpleasant ON Santa Clara building) and in an all-hands meeting, he spent a lot of time telling us why the acquisition was good for ON Semi. Not once did he tell us why it was good for us, and why we should want to be part of this new organization.

      That was just the first sign. As we were integrated in to the mother company, working conditions steadily declined. Autonomy was progressively stripped away, with even low-value purchasing, and hiring decisions having to be approved by the CEO. It was like working for a 1980s company.

      To me the most amazing thing is that anyone from Aptina chose to stay. This in part shows the ties created by social connections, belief in the products, and human fear of change. That and, like the apocryphal frog in a slowly warming pot of water, the degradation in work quality of life was gradual. It was only after leaving that I, and other refugees I've spoken to, got to look back and fully appreciate how thoroughly unenjoyable it was working there, and how work doesn't have to be like that.

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    5. Once we talk about Aptina memories, what do you say about closing Oslo design center in 2011? Is it any different from ON Semi laying off employees in Mechelen?

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    6. The Ethisphere ranking might apply to the company as a whole, but definitely is not representative of their image sensor group.

      Just talk to some (former) insiders.
      You'll find numerous stories about toxic leadership.

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    7. Ethically, ON/their image group has a lot of work to do. It was said that image sensor leadership top-down forced downgrades on performance appraisals for individual team members that had already had their teams heavily reduced in number. The people who were left were the ones who were performing well at doing twice the normal work!!

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  3. Well said Eric.

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    1. Well said, but unfortunately Eric's view on ON Semiconductor's recent layoffs + the related decision process is factually wrong. Same goes for corporate governance/ethics within the image sensor group.

      Please do some research first before posting generic comments, e.g.
      talk to some (former) insiders and only then make up your mind.


      About below-average leadership:

      While the image sensor market exhibited an (average) CAGR of ~8%-10% over the past 5 years, the revenue of ON Semiconductor's image sensor group has been basically flat over the same period.

      So in my book, that's well below-average performance.
      I'm inclined to think the activist NY investors that joined the ON Semiconductor board in December 2020 would agree with this analysis.

      Men lie, women lie, but numbers don't lie.

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  4. They are celebrating the past. The Python - a successful sensor, no doubt - is a product of 10 or more years back. It was first of a class of global shutter industrial sensors. There were sensors that had no competition for long time, the 25MP variant for example. The pythons got designed in in the early 2010s, This generation is just being designed out. Onsemi did not show another generation after that could compete in the mid 2010s. e.g. we had a design decision around 2015, no way to go with a python or other even back there in this category. Industrial globalshutter have long life cycles, I would guess they missed the train somewhere back in 2012/14.

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    1. Is it possible that the situation at ams/cmosis shows some similar aspects? Industrial cis being a rather small segment in a large company gets into "large company environment" pressure, e.g. resulting in rather low investment in new genetations, good profits for a while but finally being years behind technologically? The cmvs are a bit similar to the pythons in product age and no real news since years.

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    2. Good analysis, I think you can definitely draw some parallels between both situations.

      Image sensors require continuous technology investments. Without these, time eventually catches up with you.

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  5. All valid comments. Laying off people is hard and not an easy decision for most of us. ON was a people company in general under their old CEO Keith Jackson, maybe not for all employees impacted by decision which had to be made. The new CEO need to prove that he can manage a company long term and not just to get is ready to sell as he did with his last company. Seems he does not recognize that his largest asset are the people working for him to generate value. Without he cannot generate shareholder value at all.

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    1. Tons of recent VP+ turnover as well.

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