Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nikkei: Panasonic Possibly Divests from TPSCo

Nikkei: Panasonic prepares a restructuring plan to improve its financial performance. As a part of the plan, Panasonic contemplates selling its share in TowerJazz-Panasonic JV: "In the chip business, the company is weighing unloading shares in a joint venture with an Israeli enterprise."

ToF Imaging Book

It came to my attention that CRC Press released "High Performance CMOS Range Imaging: Device Technology and Systems Considerations" by Andreas Suss in 2016. The book appears to be a version of Andreas Suss 2014 PhD Thesis, freely available on Duisburg University site.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mobileye Lecture at MIT

MIT Center for Brains, Minds and Machines publishes a lecture "The Convergence of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Towards Enabling Autonomous Driving" by Amnon Shashua, Mobileye CTO and Chairman, that has been live streamed yesterday. The lecture also has a nice Q&A session starting 0:51:00 time, the camera requirements questions start at 1:08:34:

Thanks to DS for the link!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Magna Forecasts Automotive Camera Market to Reach $10B in 2020

AutomotiveNews: Magna VP Joel Gibson said the total market value for camera-based driver assistance systems is “growing very quickly” and he expects it to be worth about $10b per year by 2020. “It’s a very large growth area for Magna,” he said. Magna expects its car camera business to grow to $1B from the current $450M per year.

On another automotive news, AutoSens publishes a tutorial "What is LiDAR and why is it so important to driverless cars?" explaining the LiDAR basics and its strengths and weaknesses.

In yet another automotive news, NYTimes reports a use case for an in-car camera: "In France, Valeo, another supplier of automotive technology, is developing an infrared camera system that will monitor children in the rear seat as well as the driver’s shoulder, neck and head movements, looking for deviations from the norm.

Checking body temperature and even how the driver is dressed, the system will also be able to customize the interior temperature for each driver, said Guillaume Devauchelle, the company’s innovation director.

Inside ToF Proximity Sensor of iPhone 7 Plus

Systemplus Consulting publishes reverse engineering report of ST SPAD-based proximity sensor inside Apple iPhone 7 Plus. "The custom Apple device measures 2.80 mm x 2.40 mm, half the size of the rest of STMicroelectronics’s portfolio." VCSEL is integrated on top of the SPAD sensor chip:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

ST SPAD Presentation

ST kindly permitted me to publish few slides from Bruce Rae presentation "Fully industrialised Foundry SPAD in an optimised 130nm CMOS imaging technology" at Image Sensors Europe in London, UK, on March 15, 2017:

Update: ST asked me to add a following statement:

"STM adds SPADs to its CIS foundry business in addition to its advanced CIS processes and pixels. STM is now enriching its CIS foundry offer with access to its 130nm CMOS SPAD technology. The fully industrialized SPAD pixel and associated IPs, shipped in more than 250 Million of STM’s FlightSenseTM technology based products, is now available to STM customers under a foundry business model. Customers can now benefit from more than 10 years of R&D, as well as a proven, reliable, high volume capable supply chain. Regular MPW shuttles are planned, starting in Sept 2017."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Taiwan Distributors Report High CIS Demand

Digitimes: Taiwan-based Coasia Microelectronics and Sunnic Technology & Merchandise, report 17.7% and 18% YoY sales growth, according to industry sources. Coasia distributes CMOS sensors mainly for Samsung, while Sunnic sells Sony's CMOS sensors.

The growth in demand in 2017 has been attributed to a growing number of new smartphones including entry-level and mid-range models that will feature a dual-lens setup, said Digitimes sources.

Indeed, even $65 phones such as DooGee Shoot 2 feature dual 5MP rear camera these days:

EETimes on ST SPAD Imager in iPhone 8

EETimes quotes Yole's analyst Pierre Cambou findings that ST SPAD imager might appear in the oncoming Apple iPhone 8. Few quotes:

"Yole’s educated guess is that ST is bringing a brand new 3D (array) imager to Apple iPhone 8 — an innovation that will alter the phone’s user interface.

Here’s a fact: As many as 10 Apple engineers have been working on imaging in Grenoble over the last few years. Their presence is open knowledge among locals, according to Cambou. The local newspaper reported last summer that Apple signed a lease with the city of Grenoble to open a research and development center there. The 800-square-meter facility will reportedly focus on imaging components and employ about thirty engineers.

Cambou suspects that ST could be using Silicon on insulator (SOI)-based wafers for the new SPAD 3D imagers. He said, “This is the way people have been doing BSI in the Grésivaudan valley (in Crolles…) for a long time.

Rockchip Compares its ISP with Apple

Embedded Vision publishes Rockchip article comparing its AP image processing engine with one from Apple:

"The RK1608 utilizes the CEVA-XM4 DSP core to perform frame-based processing, rather than line-based as in ISP. Because it is specifically designed for image processing, it can perform much faster than a standard AP. It includes features like multi frame de-noise, zig-zag HDR for preview and capture, HDR processing of multi-exposed image, depth map generation, super resolution and pseudo optical zoom. The vision coprocessor’s function is not dependent on the ISP, so it can be adapted to any platform.

One phone already available on the market that uses the RK1608 for enhanced photography, is the ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom smartphone, launched earlier this year at CES 2017. If there was ever a phone that truly threatened DSLRs, this is it. This device was designed to be a camera just as much as it was designed to be a phone. The aperture, pixel size and sensor are among the largest in the industry at f/1.7, 1.4µm and 1/2.55”, respectively. It uses new SuperPixel camera technology for clearer images at night or in low-light environments and offers 2.5-times greater light sensitivity than the Apple iPhone 7 Plus.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

e2v Whitepaper on CCD QE in the Soft X-Ray Range

e2v publishes a nice paper explaining CCD properties in soft X-Ray band. Few quotes:

"On average, 3.6 eV is required for each free signal electron emitted from the silicon atom after absorption of an X-ray photon [20], with variance as per the Fano factor. The complete absorption of a 500 eV X-ray photon produces on average approximately (500 / 3.6) = 139 signal electrons, but a large number of steps are involved in this absorption."