Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rumor: Sony to Announce 22MP Curved Sensor for Mobile Applications

Sony Alpha Rumors quotes Chinese cnBeta site with specs of the first Sony image sensor - a 22MP 2/3-inch IMX271SMK and based on it camera module. One of the interesting features of the rumored sensor is rectangular pixels - "Oversampling (2-in-1 Logic physical pixel pixel, without guessing color)":

DPReview quotes another rumor from Chinese website saying that the next generation Sony Xperia Z3X smartphone is to feature the IMX271SMK curved sensor and is scheduled to appear on the market sometime in 2015. The camera phone lens is unusually bright at F1.2.

Sony Invests More in Stacked Sensors Production

Sony plans to invest 35 billion yen in its Nagasaki Technology Center ("Nagasaki TEC") and Kumamoto Technology Center ("Kumamoto TEC") from the H2 of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015 (FY14) through the H1 of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016 (FY15), to increase its production capacity for stacked image sensors. The investment is intended to reinforce Nagasaki TEC's "layering process" production capabilities, as well as Kumamoto TEC's "mastering process" facilities. "The layering process refers to the layering semiconductor chips containing back-illuminated structure pixels with semiconductor chips containing the circuit for signal processing. The mastering process refers to the manufacture of photodiodes and wiring processes for stacked CMOS image sensors."

On January 29, 2014, Sony announced its plans to establish and invest in Yamagata TEC as a facility mainly conducting the mastering process. The current investment is expected to enable Sony to complete subsequent stages of production, including the layering process, at Nagasaki TEC on semiconductor chips that have undergone the mastering process at Yamagata TEC, providing Sony with a fully integrated production system for stacked CMOS image sensors. This investment is a part of Sony's mid - to long-term plan to increase its total production capacity for image sensors to approximately 75,000 12-inch wafers per month, and is expected to increase the current capacity of approximately 60,000 wafers per month to approximately 68,000 wafers per month by August 2015.

Over FY14, Sony is going to invest approximately 9 billion yen (Nagasaki TEC: 3 billion, Kumamoto TEC: 6 billion). Approximately 26 billion yen is to be invested in FY15 (Nagasaki TEC).

Nagasaki Technology Center (left) and Kumamoto Technology Center (right)

Thanks to DG for the news.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mobileye Plans IPO at $3.8B Valuation

Reuters, Globes: Mobileye, a maker of vision & camera-based ADAS systems starts the roadshow for NYSE IPO of $500M at $3.8B valuation. Mobileye's revenue was $81.2M in 2013. Such a high valuation (for a hardware company) reflects the market expectations for a wide adoption of automotive vision systems.

A Youtube video shows one of the Mobileye features in action:

FLIR Announces Availability of its Low Cost Thermal Imager

Marketwired: FLIR announces that the FLIR ONE thermal imaging accessory for smartphones will be available on July 23 for pre-order online at The award-winning FLIR ONE transforms an iPhone 5 or 5s into a thermal imager. When paired with its iPhone app, FLIR ONE displays live infrared imagery that allows the user to see the world from a thermal perspective. FLIR ONE will also be available to buy in Apple Stores and on in August.

A Youtube commercial explains why average consumer needs thermal camera:

Thanks to SF for the news.

Friday, July 18, 2014

DALSA on CMOS Sensors Today and Tomorrow

Spectronet publishes Teledyne-DALSA presentation "CMOS Today & Tomorrow." Few slides from the presentation:

Maybank Forecasts Wide Adoption of Dual Cameras

Maybank's Largan report predicts that dual cameras with depth perception will appear in 10% of Chinese smartphones in 2015:

"we assume Largan will continue to outgrow the smartphone industry driven by more dual/multi-camera devices. We think dual cameras can not only support 3D applications but also decrease response time, and have better depth-sensing & low light performance without increasing thickness. We estimate 10% of Chinese smartphones will bundle dual cameras in FY15 which should help Largan extend its global No.1 position and help the company to increase its ASP due to requirements for more precise technology."

Toshiba's 20MP 1.2um Pixel Sensor

In March 2014, Toshiba quietly published a web page for T4K46, a 1/2.3-inch 20MP image sensor aimed to smartphone camera market. The sensor is based on 1.2um BSI pixels. Its RAW10 frame rate is 12fps at full resolution, and 60fps in 1080p video mode. The sensor's ADC supports up to 12b resolution.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

TowerJazz Plans Dual Sourcing of 110nm CIS Process

TowerJazz Q2'14 Newsletter publishes a message from Avi Strum, VP and GM of CMOS Image Sensors Business Unit, and VP of Sales for Europe. He has served as the head of the CIS BU since its inception in 2005. Few quotes:

"Although we served this very demanding and competitive market segment in the early days up until 2008, we took a calculated decision to concentrate in the high end market segments including: photography (mainly broadcasting and cinematography), large X-ray sensors for dental and medical applications, industrial high speed global shutter sensors, 3D gesture control and automotive and security sensors."

"...the high volume products that require 65nm technology will go to TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor Company while the products that require high flexibility and customization will go to TowerJazz. Both companies can also enjoy the 110nm CIS technology of Panasonic that will be transferred to Israel and thus, provide our customers dual source for their products."

" the X-ray sensor market, due to our patented stitching technology, we have become the largest source for such sensors and our customers dominate around 70% of the worldwide market share in the intra oral dental sensor market."

Toshiba Promotes "Bright Mode"

Toshiba publishes a Youtube video demoing its "Bright Mode" announced half a year ago:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Baird: Omnivision Regains Market Share in China

Yahoo, SeekingAlpha: Baird said its checks indicate OmniVision is regaining smartphone market share in China. Baird's analyst sees strong PureCel design activity, and forecasts margin expansion.