Monday, March 02, 2015

Omnivision Shrinks Pixel to 1um

PR Newswire: OmniVision announces the OV16880, a 16MP sensor built on OmniVision's PureCel-S stacked die technology. The 1/3-inch OV16880 introduces a new 1um (!) pixel technology, as well as advanced features such as phase detection autofocus (PDAF).

"Industry observers expect the 1/3-inch image sensor market for 13-megapixel to 16-megapixel resolution segments to double within the next two years, driven mostly by the proliferation of higher resolution mainstream smartphones and tablets," said Kalai Chinnaveerappan, senior product marketing manager at OmniVision. "The OV16880 is the industry's first 1/3-inch 16-megapixel image sensor, putting it in the forefront of this high-growth market segment. The sensor enables slim devices to transition from a 13-megapixel to 16-megapixel camera while maintaining excellent image quality and pixel performance."

The OV16880 PureCel-S stacked die pixel array features buried color filter array (BCFA) technology, which reduces pixel crosstalk and improves SNR. The OV16880 captures 16MP images at 30fps, allowing burst photography and zero shutter lag at full resolution. Additionally, the sensor is capable of capturing 4K video at 30fps, 1080p video at 90fps, and 720p video at 120fps. The OV16880 also supports interlaced high dynamic range (iHDR) timing functionality. The sensor fits into a 8.5 mm x 8.5 mm module with a z-height of less than 5 mm.

The sensor is currently available for sampling, and is expected to enter volume production in Q3 2015.

Toshiba Announces 13MP BSI Sensor

Business Wire: Toshiba announces the T4KB3, a 13MP BSI CMOS image sensor with the optical format of 1/3.07-inch for smartphones and tablets. The new design methodology helps to reduce the power consumption of the new 13MP sensor to 53% of Toshiba’s sensor currently in mass production, to 200mW or less at 30fps. The 1.12um pixel-based T4KB3 is also said to be world’s smallest 13MP sensor. Toshiba “Bright Mode” technology boosts image brightness up to four times in Full-HD video capture at 120fps equivalent. The sample shipments start today.

Freescale Presents Automotive Vision Processor

Business Wire: Freescale introduces the S32V vision microprocessor, said to be the first automotive vision SoC with the requisite reliability, safety and security measures to automate and ‘co-pilot’ a self-aware car. “Many automotive vision systems available today are based on consumer-oriented silicon solutions originally designed to enhance gaming graphics or run smartphone apps. But in a new era where cars will serve as trusted co-pilots, utilizing consumer-oriented silicon is fundamentally unwise,” said Bob Conrad, SVP and GM of Automotive MCUs for Freescale. “Relying on anything less than automotive-grade silicon to take control of a vehicle and make critical driving decisions is simply not acceptable – not for me, not for my family and not for my customers.

The S32V vision microprocessor integrates the 2nd generation CogniVue APEX-642 core image processing technology, as well as four ARM Cortex®-A53 cores. Full market availability for the S32V is expected in July 2015.

Mentor Graphics Buys Tanner

Semiconductor Engineering reports that Mentor Graphics has purchased Tanner EDA for an undisclosed sum. Tanner CAD is popular among low budget image sensor design houses.

Rambus Lensless Sensor Video

Rambus promotes its lensless sensors in this Youtube video:

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Toshiba Announces ADAS Image Processor

Toshiba announces the TMPV7608XBG, an image recognition processor that provides recognition and detection of vehicles and pedestrians at night. The new processor is capable of 1.9 Tera operations per second (TOPS) and integrates new feature descriptors that make use of color-based image information.

The new processor is said to realize a nighttime pedestrian detection as reliable as a daytime detection available with conventional vision systems. Toshiba’s original Enhanced CoHOG (Co-occurrence Histograms of Oriented Gradients) accelerators combine luminance-based CoHOG feature descriptors with color-based feature descriptors obtained using a newly developed technique. This enhancement leads to an improvement in the recognition accuracy, especially at nighttime and at scenes with less luminance differences between objects and the background:

The TMPV7608XBG incorporates a Structure from Motion (SfM) accelerator that allows detection of general stationary obstacles such as fallen objects and landslides. The SfM accelerator provides three-dimensional (3D) estimates of the distance to, and the height and width of, the stationary obstacles, based on a sequence of images from a monocular camera. This accelerator makes it possible to detect any stationary obstacles without a learning curve, as well as moving objects (using motion analysis) and a particular class of objects such as pedestrians and vehicles (using pattern recognition).

The TMPV7608XBG is able to simultaneously perform Traffic Light Recognition (TLR), Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Vehicle and Pedestrian Collision Warning and Collision Avoidance, High-Beam Assistance, and General Obstacle Collision Warning. The devices interfaces with up to 8 cameras, while consuming 3.37W of power:

The sample shipment started in January 2015.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Omnivision Proposes DTI with Charge Transfer Assist

Omnivision patent application US20150048427 "Image sensor pixel cell with switched deep trench isolation structure" by Sing-chung Hu, Rongsheng Yang, Gang Chen, Howard E. Rhodes, Sohei Manabe, and Hsin-chih Tai proposes a BSI pixel with DTI, filled by a lightly doped poly. A negative pulse applied to the DTI poly allows increasing PD doping and full well while maintaining a low image lag:

Friday, February 27, 2015

ISSCC 2015 Report: Shizuoka University Compressive Imager

Albert Theuwissen continues to post his reports from ISSCC. Shizuoka University presents a 200 million fps compressive imager. The imager consists of 15 pixel sub-arrays, each of them exposed at the differing times. In the end, a 200Mfps image sequence is recovered.

Cista and SMIC Start Mass Production of 0.13um-Process BSI Sensors

PR Newswire: Remember Cista, a mysterious image sensor startup founded by ex-Omnivision employees? SMIC and Cista System Corp. jointly announce a mass production start of two CIS-BSI products, of 1.3MP resolution with 1.75um pixel and 8MP resolution with 1.4um pixel, respectively. Both sensors are based on SMIC's 0.13um BSI process.

SMIC's 0.13um CIS-BSI technology is said to be independently developed and offers competitive performance. Based on a low leakage process, it only uses three aluminum metal layers for reduced cost and supports pixel sizes down to 1.4um for 8MP resolution CIS. SMIC also provides full in-house turn-key service which includes CIS wafer fabrication, color filter & micro-lens processing, TSV-CSP and testing to help customers shorten the supply chain with fast cycle time and low cost.

"Through working with our partner, Cista System Corp., we are very pleased with the achievement of the production phase for BSI technology," said Dr. Shiuh-Wuu Lee, EVP of Technology Development of SMIC. "Tests on the two sensors have shown great performance which demonstrates our readiness in 0.13-micron BSI technology platform. SMIC is also developing 1.1-micron pixel BSI for 13MP resolution and above, and 3D stacked BSI for high-end applications. With these new sets of products, we hope to provide high-quality CMOS Image Sensors to our customers at a competitive price."

"We are excited to partner with SMIC on launching the CIS-BSI sensors," said Wilson Du, CEO and President of Cista System Corp. "This partnership draws us one step closer to our goal of becoming more integrated with domestic industry resources in developing the image sensor sector. As we move forward, we hope to see more of our designs used in wider applications such as consumer electronics, telecommunications, medical equipment, automotive industry, automation and other applications."

So far, Cista web site only lists 1MP and 2MP products, with others, up to 13MP, are said to come soon. The 2MP C2580 and C2590 SoC specs look similar, and both sensors appear to be frontside-illuminated:

The 1MP C1680 has a similar block diagram and spec, but uses BSI technology:

CEVA Announces 4th Gen Vision Platform

PR Newswire: CEVA unveils the CEVA-XM4, its fourth-generation imaging and vision processor IP. CEVA-XM4 achieves up to 8x performance improvement with 35% greater energy efficiency, compared to the previous generation CEVA-MM3101.

The new IP's capabilities include real-time 3D depth map generation and point cloud processing for 3D scanning. In addition, it can analyze scene information using the most processing-intensive object detection and recognition algorithms, ranging from ORB, Haar, and LBP, all the way to deep learning algorithms that use neural network technologies such as convolutional neural networks (CNN). The architecture also features a number of unique mechanisms, such as parallel random memory access and a patented two-dimension data processing scheme. These enable 4096-bit processing -- in a single cycle -- while keeping the memory bandwidth under 512bits for optimum energy efficiency.

In comparison to today's most advanced GPU cluster (points to NVIDIA, I guess), a single CEVA-XM4 core will complete a typical 'object detection and tracking' use-case scenario while consuming approximately 10% of the power and requiring approximately 5% of the die area.

Taking computer vision one step closer to human vision, the CEVA-XM4 also supports a wide range of computational photography algorithms that enhance the video or image, including refocus, background replacement, zoom, super-resolution, image stabilization, noise reduction and improved low-light capabilities.