Galaxycore announces dual analog gain HDR CIS

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Press release:

GalaxyCore Unveils Industry's First DAG Single-Frame HDR 13Megapixels CIS


GalaxyCore has officially launched the industry's first 13megapixels image sensor with Single-Frame High Dynamic Range (HDR) capability – the GC13A2. This groundbreaking 1/3.1", 1.12μm pixel back-illuminated CIS features GalaxyCore's unique Dual Analog Gain (DAG) circuit architecture, enabling low-power consumption 12bit HDR output during previewing, photography, and video recording. This technology enhances imaging dynamic range for smartphones, tablets, and more, resulting in vividly clear images for users.

The GC13A2 also supports on-chip Global Tone Mapping, which compresses real-time 12bit data into 10bit output, preserving HDR effects and expanding compatibility with a wider range of smartphone platforms.

High Dynamic Range Technology

Dynamic range refers to the range between the darkest and brightest images an image sensor can capture. Traditional image sensors have limitations in dynamic range, often failing to capture scenes as perceived by the human eye. High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology emerged as a solution to this issue.

Left Image: blowout in the bright part resulting from narrow dynamic range/Right Image: shot with DAG HDR

Currently, image sensors use multi-frame synthesis techniques to enhance dynamic range:
Photography: Capturing 2-3 frames of the same scene with varying exposure times – shorter exposure to capture highlight details and longer exposure to supplement shadow details – then combining them to create an image with a wider dynamic range.

Video Recording: Utilizing multi-frame synthesis, the image sensor alternates between outputting 60fps long-exposure and short-exposure images, which the platform combines to produce a 30fps frame with preserved highlight color and shadow details. While multi-frame synthesis yields noticeable improvements in dynamic range, it significantly increases power consumption, making it unsuitable for prolonged use on devices like smartphones and tablets. Moreover, it tends to produce motion artifacts when capturing moving objects.

Left Image: shot with Multi-Frame HDR (Motion Artifact) Right Image: shot with DAG HDR

GalaxyCore's Patented DAG HDR Technology

GalaxyCore's DAG HDR technology, based on single-frame imaging, employs high analog gain in shadow regions for improved clarity and texture, while low analog gain is used in highlight parts to prevent overexposure and preserve details. Compared to traditional multi-frame HDR, DAG HDR not only increases dynamic range and mitigates artifact issues but also addresses the power consumption problem associated with multi-frame synthesis. For instance, in photography, scenes that used to require 3-frame synthesis are reduced by 50% when utilizing DAG HDR.

Left Image: Traditional HDR Photography Right Image: DAG HDR Photography

GC13A2 Empowers Imaging Excellence with HDR

Empowered by DAG HDR, the GC13A2 is capable of low-power 12bit HDR image output and 4K 30fps video capture. It reduces the need for frame synthesis during photography and lowers HDR video recording power consumption by approximately 30%, while avoiding the distortion caused by motion artifacts.

Compared to other image sensors of the same specifications in the industry, GC13A2 supports real-time HDR previewing, allowing users to directly observe every frame's details while shooting. This provides consumers with an enhanced shooting experience.

GC13A2 has already passed initial verification by brand customers and is set to enter mass production. In the future, GalaxyCore will introduce a series of high-resolution DAG single-frame HDR products, including 32Megapixels and 50Megapixels variants. This will further enhance GalaxyCore’s high-performance product lineup, promoting superior imaging quality and an enhanced user experience for smartphones.

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MDPI IISW2023 special issue – 316MP, 120FPS, HDR CIS

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A. Agarwal et al. have published a full length article on their IISW 2023 conference presentation in a special issue of MDPI Sensors. The paper is titled "A 316MP, 120FPS, High Dynamic Range CMOS Image Sensor for Next Generation Immersive Displays" and is joint work between Forza Silicon (AMETEK Inc.) and Sphere Entertainment Co..

Full article (open access):

We present a 2D-stitched, 316MP, 120FPS, high dynamic range CMOS image sensor with 92 CML output ports operating at a cumulative date rate of 515 Gbit/s. The total die size is 9.92 cm × 8.31 cm and the chip is fabricated in a 65 nm, 4 metal BSI process with an overall power consumption of 23 W. A 4.3 µm dual-gain pixel has a high and low conversion gain full well of 6600e- and 41,000e-, respectively, with a total high gain temporal noise of 1.8e- achieving a composite dynamic range of 87 dB.

Figure 1. Sensor on a 12 inch wafer (4 dies per wafer), die photo, and stitch plan.

Figure 2. Detailed block diagram showing sensor partitioning.

Figure 3. Distribution of active and dark rows in block B/H, block E, and final reticle plan.

Figure 5. Sensor timing for single-exposure dual-gain (HDR) operation.

Figure 6. Data aggregation and readout order for single-gain mode.

Figure 7. Data aggregation and readout order for dual-gain mode.

Figure 8. ADC output multiplexing network for electrical crosstalk mitigation.

Figure 9. Conventional single-ended ADC counter distribution.

Figure 10. Proposed pseudo-differential ADC counter distribution.

Figure 11. Generated thermal map from static IR drop simulation.

Figure 12. Measured dark current distribution.

Figure 13. SNR and transfer function in HDR mode.

Figure 14. Full-resolution color image captured in single-gain mode at 120 FPS.

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Paper on "Charge-sweep" CIS Pixel

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In a recent paper titled "Design and Characterization of a Burst Mode 20 Mfps Low Noise CMOS Image Sensor" ( Xin Yue and Eric Fossum write:

This paper presents a novel ultra-high speed, high conversion-gain, low noise CMOS image sensor (CIS) based on charge-sweep transfer gates implemented in a standard 180 nm CIS process. Through the optimization of the photodiode geometry and the utilization of charge-sweep transfer gates, the proposed pixels achieve a charge transfer time of less than 10 ns without requiring any process modifications. Moreover, the gate structure significantly reduces the floating diffusion capacitance, resulting in an increased conversion gain of 183 µV/e−. This advancement enables the image sensor to achieve the lowest reported noise of 5.1 e− rms. To demonstrate the effectiveness of both optimizations, a proof-of-concept CMOS image sensor is designed, taped-out and characterized.

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OmniVision three-layer stacked sensor

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From Businesswire --- "OMNIVISION Announces World’s Smallest Global Shutter Image Sensor for AR/VR/MR and Metaverse".

OmniVision has announced the industry’s first and only three-layer stacked BSI global shutter (GS) image sensor. The OG0TB is the world’s smallest image sensor for eye and face tracking in AR/VR/MR and Metaverse consumer devices, with a package size of just 1.64mm x 1.64mm, it has a 2.2µm pixel in a 1/14.46-inch optical format (OF). The CMOS image sensor features 400×400 resolution and ultra-low power consumption, ideal for some of the smallest and lightest battery-powered wearables, such as eye goggles and glasses. Ultra-low power consumption is critical for these battery-powered devices, which can have 10 or more cameras per system. Their OG0TB BSI GS image sensor consumes less than 7.2mW at 30 frames per second (fps).

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--OMNIVISION, a leading global developer of semiconductor solutions, including advanced digital imaging, analog, and touch & display technology, today announced the industry’s first and only three-layer stacked BSI global shutter (GS) image sensor. The OG0TB is the world’s smallest image sensor for eye and face tracking in AR/VR/MR and Metaverse consumer devices, with a package size of just 1.64mm x 1.64mm, it has a 2.2µm pixel in a 1/14.46-inch optical format (OF). The CMOS image sensor features 400x400 resolution and ultra-low power consumption, ideal for some of the smallest and lightest battery-powered wearables, such as eye goggles and glasses.

“OMNIVISION is leading the industry by developing the world’s first three-layer stacked global shutter pixel technology and implementing it in the smallest GS image sensor with uncompromising performance,” said David Shin, staff product marketing manager – IoT/Emerging at OMNIVISION. “We pack all of these features and functions into the world’s smallest ‘ready-to-go’ image sensor, which provides design flexibility to put the camera in the most ideal placement on some of the smallest and slimmest wearable devices.” Shin adds, “Ultra-low power consumption is critical for these battery-powered devices, which can have 10 or more cameras per system. Our OG0TB BSI GS image sensor consumes less than 7.2mW at 30 frames per second (fps).”

The worldwide market for AR/VR headsets grew 92.1% year over year in 2021, with shipments reaching 11.2 million units, according to new data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly AR/VR Headset Tracker1. New entrants as well as broader adoption from the commercial sector will propel the market further as headset shipments are forecast to grow 46.9% year over year in 2022. In fact, IDC expects this market to experience double-digit growth through 2026 as global shipments of AR/VR headsets surpass 50 million units by the end of the forecast, with a 35.1% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR).

OMNIVISION is supporting the growing market for AR/VR headsets by introducing new products such as the OG0TB GS image sensor, which features the company’s most advanced technology:

 It is built on OMNIVISION’s PureCel®Plus-S stacked-die technology.

 It features a three-layer stacked sensor with pixel size at 2.2µm in a 1/14.46-inch OF to achieve 400x400 resolution.

 Nyxel® technology enables the best quantum efficiency (QE) at the 940nm NIR wavelength for sharp, accurate images of moving objects.

 The sensor’s high modulation transfer function (MTF) enables sharper images with greater contrast and more detail, which is especially important for enhancing decision-making processes in machine vision applications.

 The sensor supports a flexible interface, including MIPI with multi-drop, CPHY, SPI, etc.

The OG0TB GS image sensor will be available for sampling in Q3 2022 and in mass production in the 2H 2023.

PS: It is worth noting that Sony made a claim for "world's first 3 layer stacked CIS" back in 2017 after their ISSCC paper titled "A 1/2.3inch 20Mpixel 3-layer stacked CMOS Image Sensor with DRAM" (DOI: 10.1109/ISSCC.2017.7870268). The three layers consisted of photodiodes, DRAM memory, and mixed-signal ISP. But that was a rolling shutter sensor, whereas this one from OmniVision is a global shutter sensor. 

PPS: Readers of blog who know of any journal or conference publication about OmniVision's new design please share them in the comments below! 

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Gpixel announces new global shutter GSPRINT 4502 sensor

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Gpixel press release on August 17, 2022:

Gpixel expands high-speed GSPRINT image sensor series with a 2/3” 2.5 MP 3460 fps global shutter GSPRINT4502

Gpixel announces a high-speed global shutter image sensor, GSPRINT4502, a new member of the GSPRINT series taking high speed imaging to another level.

GSPRINT4502 is a 2.5 Megapixel (2048 x 1216), 2/3” (φ10.7 mm), high speed image sensor designed with the latest 4.5 µm charge domain global shutter pixel. It achieves more than 30 ke- charge capacity and less than 4 e- rms read noise, with dynamic range of 68 dB which can be expanded using a multi-slope HDR feature. Utilizing an advanced 65 nm CIS process with light pipe and micro lens technology, the sensor achieves >65% quantum efficiency and < -92 dB parasitic light sensitivity.

GSPRINT4502 can achieve extremely high frame rates up to 3460 fps in 8-bit mode, 1780 fps in 10-bit mode or 850 fps in 12-bit mode, all at full resolution. With 2×2 on-chip charge binning, full well capacity can be further increased to 120 ke- and frame rate to 10,200 fps. GSPRINT4502 supports vertical and horizontal regions of interest for higher frame rates. GSPRINT4502 is perfect for high-speed applications including 3D laser profiling, industrial inspection, high speed video and motion analysis.

Data output from GSPRINT4502 is through 64 pairs sub-LVDS channels running 1.2 Gbps each. Flexible output channel multiplex modes make it possible to reduce frame and data rate to make the sensor compatible with all available camera interface options. GSPRINT4502 is packaged in a 255-pin uPGA ceramic package and will be offered in sealed and removable glass lid versions.

“The market reaction to the GSPRINT high-speed image sensor family provides evidence that a growing number of applications require higher frame rates,” said Wim Wuyts, Chief Commercial Officer of Gpixel. “We are excited to continue to expand the portfolio to bring these high frame rates to more applications.”

GSPRINT4502 engineering samples can be ordered today for delivery in October, 2022. 

About the GSPRINT sensor family

The GSPRINT series is Gpixel’s high-speed global shutter product family, including the 21 MP GSPRINT4521, 10 MP GSPRINT4510 and 2.5 MP GSPRINT4502. The GSPRINT technology will be used to expand the sizes and resolutions available in the family in the future. To learn more about the GSPRINT series, please contact us at:

About Gpixel

Gpixel provides high-end customized and off-the-shelf CMOS image sensors for industrial, professional, medical, and scientific applications. Gpixel’s standard products include the GMAX and GSPRINT global shutter, fast frame rate sensors, the GSENSE and GLUX high-end scientific CMOS image sensor series, the GL series of line scan imagers, the GLT series of TDI line scan imagers and the GTOF series of iTOF imagers. Gpixel’s broad portfolio of products utilizes the latest technologies to meet the ever-growing demands of the professional imaging market.

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3D Wafer Stacking: Review paper in IEEE TED June 2022 Issue

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In IEEE Trans. Electr. Dev. June 2022 issue, in a paper titled "A Review of 3-Dimensional Wafer Level Stacked Backside Illuminated CMOS Image Sensor Process Technologies," Wuu et al. write:

Over the past 10 years, 3-dimensional (3-D) wafer-level stacked backside Illuminated (BSI) CMOS image sensors (CISs) have undergone rapid progress in development and performance and are now in mass production. This review paper covers the key processes and technology components of 3-D integrated BSI devices, as well as results from early devices fabricated and tested in 2007 and 2008. This article is divided into three main sections. Section II covers wafer-level bonding technology. Section III covers the key wafer fabrication process modules for BSI 3-D waferlevel stacking. Section IV presents the device results.

This paper has quite a long list of acronyms. Here is a quick reference:
BDTI = backside deep trench isolation
BSI = backside illumination
BEOL = back end of line
HB = hybrid bonding
TSV = through silicon via
HAST = highly accelerated (temperature and humidity) stress test
SOI = silicon on insulator
BOX = buried oxide

Section II goes over wafer level direct bonding methods.

Section III discusses important aspects of stacked design development for BSI (wafer thinning, hybrid bonding, backside deep trench isolation, pyramid structure to improve quantum efficiency, use of high-k dielectric film to deal with crystal defects, and pixel performance analyses).

Section IV shows some results of early stacked designs.

Full article:

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Labforge releases new 20.5T ops/s AI machine vision camera

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Labforge has designed and developed a smart camera called Bottlenose which supports 20.5 trillion operations/second processing power and on-board AI, depth, feature points & matching, and a powerful ISP. The target audience is robotics and automation. They have built the camera around a Toshiba Visconti-5 processor. The current models are available as both stereo and monocular versions with IMX577 Sony image sensors. For future models there will be a range of resolutions and shutter options available. 

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Sony releases new sensors IMX487, IMX661

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IMX487 UV 8.13MP

[Advertised as "new product launch" but this has been around for a while.]

Global shutter CMOS image sensor specialized for the UV spectrum

With the structure specially designed for the properties of the UV wavelengths coupled with Pregius S technology, the image sensor can capture undistorted images of moving objects within a UV range of 200–400 nm and at a high frame rate of 193 fps (operated in the 10-bit mode). This image sensor has a potential to expand the scope of application from the conventional use of UV cameras in the inspection of semiconductors, etc. to areas that require high-speed capability, such as sorting of recycled materials.

Low noise

This image sensor has adopted the component materials dedicated for UV range imaging, and a special structure has been developed for its light receiving area. These make it possible to maintain high UV sensitivity while significantly minimizing noises to produce high quality images.

Smaller pixels

The pixels are miniaturized down to 2.74 um while maintaining high UV sensitivity, realizing a small multi-pixel sensor of the 2/3 type with approximately 8.13 megapixels. It serves well with factory automation, but also for many other purposes, notably for outdoor use for infrastructure inspections, by virtue of its portability and high resolution.

IMX661 127MP

The IM661 is a diagonal 56.73 mm (Type 3.6) CMOS active pixel type solid-state image sensor with a square pixel array and 127 M effective pixels. This chip features a global shutter with variable charge-integration time. This chip operates with analog 3.3 V, digital 1.2 V, and interface 1.8 V quadruple power supply. (Applications: FA cameras)

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Samsung’s ISOCELL HP3 sensor

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Samsung has published details about its now 200MP sensor 'ISOCELL HP3'.

Press release:

Samsung Electronics, a world leader in advanced semiconductor technology, today introduced the 200MP ISOCELL HP3, the image sensor with the industry’s smallest 0.56-micrometer (μm)-pixels.

“Samsung has continuously led the image sensor market trend through its technology leadership in high resolution sensors with the smallest pixels,” said JoonSeo Yim, Executive Vice President of Sensor Business Team at Samsung Electronics. “With our latest and upgraded 0.56μm 200MP ISOCELL HP3, Samsung will push on to deliver epic resolutions beyond professional levels for smartphone camera users.”

Epic Resolution Beyond Pro Levels

Since its first 108MP image sensor roll-out in 2019, Samsung has been leading the trend of next-generation, ultra-high-resolution camera development. Through the steady launch of new image sensors and advancements in performance, the company is once again forging ahead with the 0.56μm 200MP ISOCELL HP3.

The ISOCELL HP3, with a 12 percent smaller pixel size than the predecessor’s 0.64μm, packs 200 million pixels in a 1/1.4” optical format, which is the diameter of the area that is captured through the camera lens. This means that the ISOCELL HP3 can enable an approximately 20 percent reduction in camera module surface area, allowing smartphone manufacturers to keep their premium devices slim.

The ISOCELL HP3 comes with a Super QPD auto-focusing solution, meaning that all of the sensor’s pixels are equipped with auto-focusing capabilities. In addition, Super QPD uses a single lens over four-adjacent pixels to detect the phase differences in both horizontal and vertical directions. This paves way for a more accurate and quicker auto focusing for smartphone camera users.

The sensor also allows users to take videos in 8K at 30 frames-per-second (fps) or 4K at 120fps, with minimal loss in the field of view when taking 8K videos. Combined with the Super QPD solution, users can take movie-like cinematic footage with their mobile devices.

Ultimate Low Light Experience Through ‘Tetra2pixel’

The ISOCELL HP3 also provides an ultimate low-light experience, with the Tetra2pixel technology that combines four pixels into one to transform the 0.56μm 200MP sensor into a 1.12μm 50MP sensor, or a 12.5MP sensor with 2.24μm-pixels by combining 16 pixels into one. The technology enables the sensor to simulate a large-sized pixel sensor to take brighter and more vibrant shots even in dimmed environments, like in-doors or during nighttime.

To maximize the dynamic range of the mobile image sensor, the ISOCELL HP3 adopts an improved Smart-ISO Pro feature. The technology merges image information made from the two conversion gains of Low and High ISO mode to create HDR images. The upgraded version of the technology comes with a triple ISO mode — Low, Mid and High — that further widens the sensor’s dynamic range. In addition, the improved Smart-ISO Pro enables the sensor to express images in over 4 trillion colors (14-bit color depth), 64 times more colors than the predecessor’s 68 billion (12-bit). Furthermore, by supporting staggered HDR along with Smart-ISO Pro, the ISOCELL HP3 can switch between the two solutions depending on the filming environment to produce high-quality HDR images.

Samples of the Samsung ISOCELL HP3 are currently available, and mass production is set to begin this year.

Effective Resolution 16,320 x 12,288 (200M)

Pixel Size 0.56μm

Optical Format 1/1.4"

Color Filter Super QPD Tetra2pixel, RGB Bayer Pattern

Normal Frame Rate 7.5 fps @ full 200 MP, 27 fps @ 50 MP, and 120 fps @ 12.5 MP

Video Frame Rate 30 fps @ 8K, 120 fps @ 4K, and 480 fps @ FHD

Shutter Type Electronic rolling shutter

ADC Accuracy 10-bits

Supply Voltage 2.2 V for analog, 1.8 V for I/O, and 0.9 V for digital core supply

Operating Temperature -20℃ to +85℃

Interface 4 lanes (2.5Gbps per lane) D-PHY / 3 lanes (4.0Gsps per lane) C-PHY

Chroma Tetra2pixel

Auto Focus RGB Bayer Pattern

HDR Smart-ISO Pro (iDCG), Staggered HDR

Output Formats RAW10/12/14

Analog Gain x128 with High Conversion Gain

Product Status Samples Available 

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PhD Thesis on Dynamic Range Improvements

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A PhD thesis titled "Proposal of Architecture and Circuits for Dynamic Range Enhancement of Vision Systems on Chip designed in Deep Submicron Technologies" by from Universidad de Sevilla is now available to the public. The thesis is by Sonia Vargas Sierra who did this work at the Image Sensor group of Microelectronic Institute of Seville.

Although the thesis is from a few years ago, some of the content in the thesis may be of interest now due to recent developments in vertical integrated technologies.

From the Preface:

The work presented in this thesis proposes new techniques for dynamic range expansion in electronic image sensors. Since Dynamic Range (DR) is defined as the ratio between the maximum and the minimum measurable illuminations, the options for improvement seem obvious; first, to reduce the minimum measurable signal by diminishing the noise floor of the sensor, and second, to increase the maximum measurable light by increasing the sensor saturation limit.

In our case, we focus our studies to the possibility of providing DR enhancement functionality in a single chip, without requiring any external software/hardware support, composing what is called a Vision-System-on-Chip (VSoC). In order to do so, this thesis covers two approaches. Chronologically, our first option to improve the DR relied on reducing the noise by using a fabrication technology that is specially devoted to image sensor fabrication, a so-called CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) technology. However, measurements from a test chip indicated that the dynamic range improvement was not sufficient to our purposes (beyond the 100dB limit). Additionally, the technology had some important limitations on what kind of circuitry can be placed next to the photosensor in order to improve its performance. Our second approach has consisted in, first, designing a tone mapping algorithm for DR expansion whose computational needs can be easily mapped onto simple signal conditioning and processing circuitry around the photosensor, and second, designing a test chip implementing this algorithm in a standard CMOS technology.

This thesis is organized in five chapters. Chapter 1 describes the main concepts involved in image sensors focusing in High Dynamic Range (HDR) operation. Chapter 2 presents the study of an image sensor optimized technology in order to be considered for dynamic range improvement techniques. Chapter 3 describes an innovative tone mapping algorithm used to optimize the compression of HDR scenes. Chapter 4 introduces the image sensor chip that has been designed and fabricated, which implements the new tone mapping algorithm. Chapter 5 shows the experimental results and evaluation of the performance of the chip. 

Link to download thesis pdf:

A couple of references related to the topic of this thesis: 
  1. S. Vargas-Sierra et al., "A 151 dB high dynamic range CMOS image sensor chip architecture with tone mapping compression embedded in-pixel", IEEE Sensors J. Jan. 2015. 
  2. Mori et al., "A 4.0 μm Stacked Digital Pixel Sensor Operating in a Dual Quantization Mode for High Dynamic Range," IEEE TED June 2022 issue.

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Surveillance market and SmartSens

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From DigiTimes Asia news:

China security surveillance market boom buoys SmartSens

The expanding security surveillance market in China continues to boost the shipments of CMOS image sensor (CIS) chips from Chinese CIS startup SmartSens Technology, which has entered the supply chains of China's first-tier security camera vendors including Hikvision Digital Technology, Uniview Technologies and Dahua Technology, according to industry sources.

IDC statistics show China's security surveillance market scale reached US$16.2 billion in 2021 and is estimated to grow to US$20.1 billion in 2022, for a CAGR of 13.6% for the period. High-definition security camera lenses have become the tipping point of market growth, fast driving CIS sales in China, the sources said.

Since launching its first CIS chip SC1035 in 2014, SmartSens has quickly built a strong presence in the security surveillance sector. Its CIS shipments topped 100 million in 2017 and grew all the way to 146 million in 2020, registering the highest global market share at 35% in the security CIS sector, according to Frost & Sullivan statistics.

Over the years, SmartSens has been dedicated to developing high-performance CIS chips with higher light sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratios, as well as better low-light performance as the core requirements, while deepening deployments in AI, intelligent perception and machine vision capabilities, the industry sources noted.

In terms of future security-use CIS development, its co-founder and CEO Richard Xu has said that as the surveillance lens application scenarios continue to expand, the features of low light and wide dynamic range (WDR) will be increasingly highlighted for security camera solutions so that they can penetrate higher-end applications.

Since late April this year, SmartSens has kicked off a plan to list its shares on China's Sci-Tech Innovation Board (STAR Market), aiming to raise CNY2.82 billion to finance equipment procurement and system construction for its R&D center as well as the development of car-use CIS products, the sources said.

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Samsung making a new larger ISOCELL camera sensor?

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Samsung is the world’s second-biggest mobile camera sensor maker, and its sensors are used by almost every smartphone brand. Over the past couple of years, the South Korean firm has launched various big-sized camera sensors, including the ISOCELL GN1 and the ISOCELL GN2. This year, it has made one more giant ISOCELL camera sensor.

The company has developed the ISOCELL GNV camera sensor, and it will be used in a Vivo smartphone. It is being reported that the ISOCELL GNV is custom-made for Vivo phones, and it has a size of 1/1.3-inch. It is most likely a 50MP sensor, similar to the ISOCELL GN1, ISOCELL GN2, and the ISOCELL GN5. It will act as the Vivo X80 Pro+’s primary camera and features a gimbal-like OIS system.

The ISOCELL GNV is likely a slightly modified version of Samsung’s ISOCELL GN1. The Vivo smartphone has three other cameras, including a 48MP/50MP ultrawide camera (Sony IMX sensor), a 12MP telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom and OIS, and an 8MP telephoto camera with 5x optical zoom and OIS. The phone can record 8K videos using the primary camera and up to 4K 60fps videos using the rest of its cameras. On the front, it could have a 44MP selfie camera.

The phone also uses Vivo’s custom ISP (Image Signal Processor) named V1+, which has been made in close collaboration with MediaTek. The new chip brings 16% higher brightness and 12% better white balance to images in low-light conditions. Prominent sections of an image can see up to 350% better brightness for lower noise and better colors.

The rest of the phone’s specifications include a 6.78-inch 120Hz Super AMOLED LTPO display, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, 8GB/12GB RAM, 128GB/256GB storage, 4,700mAH battery, 80W fast wired charging, 50W fast wireless charging, stereo speakers, and an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance.

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Wide field-of-view imaging with a metalens

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A research group from Nanjing University has published a new paper titled "Planar wide-angle-imaging camera enabled by metalens array" in the recent issue of Optica.

Wide-angle imaging is an important function in photography and projection, but it also places high demands on the design of the imaging components of a camera. To eliminate the coma caused by the focusing of large-angle incident light, traditional wide-angle camera lenses are composed of complex optical components. Here, we propose a planar camera for wide-angle imaging with a silicon nitride metalens array mounted on a CMOS image sensor. By carefully designing proper phase profiles for metalenses with intentionally introduced shifted phase terms, the whole lens array is capable of capturing a scene with a large viewing angle and negligible distortion or aberrations. After a stitching process, we obtained a large viewing angle image with a range of >120 degrees using a compact planar camera. Our device demonstrates the advantages of metalenses in flexible phase design and compact integration, and the prospects for future imaging technology.

Metalens array mounted directly on a CMOS camera

Schematic diagram of the principle and device architecture. (a) Schematics of wide-angle imaging by MIWC. Zoom-in figure shows the imaging principle with each part of the wide-angle image clearly imaged separately by each metalens. (b) Photograph of MIWC. The metalens array can be seen in the middle of the enlarged figure on the right. (c) Architecture of MIWC. The metalens array is integrated directly on the CMOS image sensor (DMM 27UJ003-ML) and fixed by an optically clear adhesive (OCA) tape (Tesa, 69402).

Experimental wide-angle imaging results by MIWC. (a) Projected “NANJING UNIVERSITY” on the curved screen covers a viewing angle of 120° and then is imaged by MIWC. (b) Imaging results and corresponding mask functions of lenses with designed angles of −57.5∘, 0°, 57.5°. (d) Imaging result of a traditional metalens showing limited field of view. (e) Final imaging result of MIWC by processing with mask functions and sub-images, which shows three times larger FOV compared with the traditional lens.

Press release:

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PhD Thesis on Analog Signal Processing for CMOS Image Sensors

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The very first PhD thesis that came out of Albert Theuwissen's group at TU Delft is now freely available as a pdf. This seems like a great educational resource for people interested in image sensors.

Direct download link:

Title: Analog Signal Processing for CMOS Image Sensors
Author: Martijn Snoeij
Year: 2007

This thesis describes the development of low-noise power-efficient analog interface circuitry for CMOS image sensors. It focuses on improving two aspects of the interface circuitry: firstly, lowering the noise in the front-end readout circuit, and secondly the realization of more power-efficient analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) that are capable of reading out high-resolution imaging arrays. 

Chapter 2 provides an overview of the analog signal processing chain in conventional, commercially-available CMOS imagers. First of all, the different photo-sensitive elements that form the input to the analog signal chain are briefly discussed. This is followed by a discussion of the analog signal processing chain itself, which will be divided into two parts. Firstly, the analog front-end, consisting of in-pixel circuitry and column-level circuitry, is discussed. Second, the analog back-end, consisting of variable gain amplification and A/D conversion is discussed. Finally, a brief overview of advanced readout circuit techniques is provided.

In chapter 3, the performance of the analog front-end is analyzed in detail. It is shown that its noise performance is the most important parameter of the front-end. An overview of front-end noise sources is given and their relative importance is discussed. It will be shown that 1/f noise is the limiting noise source in current CMOS imagers. A relatively unknown 1/f noise reduction technique, called switched-biasing or large signal excitation (LSE), is introduced and its applicability to CMOS imagers is explored. Measurement results on this 1/f noise reduction technique are presented. Finally, at the end of the chapter, a preliminary conclusion on CMOS imager noise performance is presented. 

The main function of the back-end analog signal chain is analog-to-digital conversion, which is described in chapter 4. First of all, the conventional approach of a single chip-level ADC is compared to a massively-parallel, column-level ADC, and the advantages of the latter will be shown. Next, the existing column-level ADC architectures will be briefly discussed, in particular the column-parallel single-slope ADC. Furthermore, a new architecture, the multiple-ramp single-slope ADC will be proposed. Finally, two circuit techniques are introduced that can improve ADC performance. Firstly, it will be shown that the presence of photon shot noise in an imager can be used to significantly decrease ADC power consumption. Secondly, an column FPN reduction technique, called Dynamic Column Switching (DCS) is introduced.

Chapter 5 and 6 present two realisations of imagers with column-level ADCs. In chapter 5, a CMOS imager with single-slope ADC is presented that consumes only 3.2µW per column. The circuit details of the comparator achieving this low power consumption are described, as well as the digital column circuitry. The ADC uses the dynamic column switching technique introduced in chapter 4 to reduce the perceptional effects of column FPN. Chapter 6 presents an imager with a multiple-ramp single-slope architecture, which was proposed in chapter 4. The column comparator used in this design is taken from a commercially available CMOS imager. The multiple ramps are generated on chip with a low power ladder DAC structure. The ADC uses an auto-calibration scheme to compensate for offset and delay of the ramp drivers.

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Harvest Imaging Forum 2022 is open for registration!

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

After the Harvest Imaging forums during the last 7 years, an eighth one will be organized on June 23 & 24, 2022 in Delft, the Netherlands. The basic intention of the Harvest Imaging forum is to have a scientific and technical in-depth discussion on one particular topic that is of great importance and value to digital imaging. Due to well-known reasons, the 2022 version of the forum will be organized in a hybrid form :

You can attend in-person and can benefit in an utmost way of the live interaction with the speakers and audience,

There will be also a live broadcast of the forum, still interactions with the speakers through a chat box will be made possible,

Finally the forum also can be watched on-line at a later date.

The 2022 Harvest Imaging forum will deal with two subjects in the field of solid-state imaging and two speakers. Both speakers are world-level experts in their own fields.

"Dark current, dim points and bright spots : coming to the dark side of image sensors"

Dr. Daniel McGrath (GOODiX, USA)


Charge-generating defects are an intersection of physics, material properties, manufacturing processes and image science. In this time when pixels are reduced in dimensions comparable to the wavelength of light and noise performance is approaching photon counting, processes that produce erroneous signals in the dark have come to limit image sensor performance. The reduction of dark current over the last decades has been a success story, but has got the industry to a point where it is not clear the path for further improvement.

The aim of this forum is to provide an feet-on-the-ground exploration of the nature of dark current and of bright defects in image sensors. The start will be a discussion of the nature of both with their individual challenges and a timeline to put the development that has got the technology to its present state. It will discuss the challenge and opportunity provided by extreme sensitivity of the pixel, a curse and a blessing for understanding. It will traverse the physics and material issues related in spontaneous charge generation in semiconductors. It will take time to ponder gettering, passivation and radiation effects. It will try to provide a path through the tangle of manufacturing's mysteries and challenges. The goal is to climb to the present precipice, there to consider options that can take the technology to the next advance.


Dan McGrath has worked for 40 years specializing in the device physics of silicon-based pixels, CCD and CIS, and in the integration of image-sensor process enhancements in the manufacturing flow. He chose his first job because it offered that “studying defects in image sensors means doing physics” and has kept this passion front-and-center in his work. After obtaining his doctorate from The Johns Hopkins University, he pursued this work at Texas Instruments, Polaroid, Atmel, Eastman Kodak, Aptina and BAE Systems. He has worked with manufacturing facilities in France, Italy, Taiwan, and the USA. In 2019 he joined GOODiX Technology, a supplier to the cell phone and IoT market. He has held organizational positions in the Semiconductor Interface Specialists Conference, the International Solid State Circuits Conference, The International Electron Device Conference and the International Image Sensor Workshop. He has made presentations on dark current at ESSDERC, Electronic Imaging and the International Image Sensor Workshop. His publications include the first megapixel CCD and the basis for dark current spectroscopy (DCS).

"Random Telegraph Signal and Radiation Induced Defects in CMOS Image Sensors"

Dr. Vincent Goiffon (ISAE-SUPAERO, Fr)


CMOS Image Sensors (CIS) are by far the main solid-state image sensor technology in 2021. Each and every year, this technology comes closer to the ideal visible imaging device with near 100% peak quantum efficiency, sub electron readout noise and ultra-low dark current (< 1 e-/s) at room temperature. In such near-perfect pixel arrays, the appearance of a single defect can seriously jeopardize the pixel function. Oxide/silicon interface and silicon bulk defects can remain after manufacturing or can be introduced by aging or after exposure to particle radiation. This later source of performance degradation limits the use of commercial “unhardened” solid-state sensors in a wide range of key applications such as medical imaging, space exploration, nuclear power plant safety, electron microscopy, particle physics and nuclear fusion instrumentation.

The aim of this forum is to explore the influence of semiconductor defects on CIS performances through the magnifying glass of radiation damage. In a first part, a review of radiation effects on CIS will be provided alongside the main mitigation techniques (so-called radiation hardening by design or RHBD techniques). The trade-off between radiation-hardening and performance will be discussed on chosen applications. This first part has a double objective: 1) to provide image sensors professionals the background to anticipate and improve the radiation hardness of their sensors in radiation environment, and 2) to give a different perspective on parasitic physical mechanisms that can be observed in as-fabricated sensors such as hot pixels and charge transfer inefficiency.

The second part will focus on Random Telegraph Signals (RTS) in image sensors, a defect related phenomenon of growing importance in advanced technologies. The fundamental differences between the two main RTS in imagers – MOSFET channel RTS, also called RTN, and Dark Current RTS (DC-RTS) – will be presented. Similarly to the first part, radiation damage will be used to clarify the mysterious origin of DC-RTS. The discussion will conclude with an opening towards the RTS mechanisms similarities between CIS and other image sensor technologies (e.g. SPAD and infrared detectors) and integrated circuits (DRAM).


Vincent Goiffon received his Ph.D. in EE from the University of Toulouse in 2008. The same year he joined the ISAE-SUPAERO Image Sensor Research group as Associate Professor and he has been a Full Professor of Electronics at the Institute since 2018.

He has contributed to advance the understanding of radiation effects on solid-state image sensors, notably by identifying original degradation mechanisms in pinned photodiode pixels and by clarifying the role of interface and bulk defects in the mysterious dark current random telegraph signal phenomenon.

Besides his contributions to various space R&D projects, Vincent has been leading the development of radiation hardened CMOS image sensors (CIS) and cameras for nuclear fusion experiments (e.g. ITER and CEA Laser MegaJoule) and nuclear power plant safety. Vincent recently became the head of the Image Sensor Group of ISAE-SUPAERO.

Vincent Goiffon is the author of one book chapter and more than 90 scientific publications, including more than 10 conference awards at IEEE NSREC, RADECS and IISW.

He has been an associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science since 2017 and has served the community as reviewer and session chair.

Register here:

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State of the Image Sensor Market

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

Sigmaintell report on smartphone image sensors

According to Sigmaintell, the global mobile phone image sensor shipments in 2021 will be approximately 5.37B units, a YoY decrease of about 11.8%; among which, the global mobile phone image sensor shipments in 4Q21 will be about 1.37B units, a YoY decrease. About 25.3%. At the same time, it is estimated that the global mobile phone image sensor shipments will be about 5.50B in 2022, a year-on-year increase of about 2.5%. In 1H21, due to the long ramp-up cycle of ultra-high pixel production capacity and the squeeze of low-end pixel production capacity by other applications, there was a short-term structural imbalance and market price fluctuations rose. In 2H21, the production capacity of Samsung and Sony’s external foundries was released steadily and significantly, but the sales in the terminal market were lower than expected and the stocking plan was lowered again, resulting in an oversupply in the overall image sensor market.

Business Korea report about Samsung CIS foundry capacity expansion

Samsung Electronics will expand its foundry capacity in legacy nodes starting in 2022. The move is aimed at securing new customers and boosting profitability by increasing the production capacity of mature processes for such items as CMOS image sensors (CISs), which are in growing demand due to a prolonged shortage. At the same time, Samsung Electronics is planning to start volume production of advanced chips on its sub-3nm fabrication process in 1H22. Samsung Electronics plans to secure up to 300 foundry customers by 2026 and triple production from the 2017 level. (Laoyaoba, Business Korea)

Yole announces a new edition of its "Imaging for Security" Market report

Yole announces a new edition of its "Imaging for Automotive" market report


Strategy Analytics estimates USD15.1B global smartphone image sensor market in 2021

According to Strategy Analytics, the global smartphone Image sensor market in 2021 secured a total revenue of USD15.1B. Strategy Analytics finds that the smartphone image sensor market witnessed a revenue growth of more than 3% YoY in 2021. Sony Semiconductor Solutions topped with 45% revenue share followed by Samsung System LSI and OmniVision in 2021. The top 3 vendors captured nearly 83% revenue share in the global smartphone image sensor market in 2021. In terms of smartphone multi-camera application, Image sensors for Depth and Macro application reached 30 percent share while those for Ultrawide application exceeded 15% share.

ijiwei Insights predicts drop in mobile phone camera prices

In 2022, some manufacturers will reportedly reduce the price of mobile phone camera CIS several times. Currently, the cost down of phone camera CIS has penetrated into the camera chip products of 2MP, 5MP and 8MP. Among them, the unit price of 2MP and 5MP mobile phone camera CIS fell by about 20% and more than 30% year-on-year, respectively. [source]

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Axcelis to ship its processing tool to multiple CMOS image sensor manufacturers

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

BEVERLY, Mass., March 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Axcelis Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: ACLS), a leading supplier of innovative, high-productivity solutions for the semiconductor industry, announced today that it has shipped multiple Purion VXE™ high energy systems to multiple leading CMOS image sensor manufacturers located in Asia. The Purion VXE is an extended energy range solution for the industry leading Purion XE™ high energy implanter.

President and CEO Mary Puma commented, "We continue to maintain a leading position in the image sensor market. Our growth in this segment is clear and sustainable, and is tied to long-term trends in demand for products in the growing IoT, mobile and automotive markets. The Purion VXE was designed to address the specific needs of customers developing and manufacturing the most advanced CMOS image sensors, and has quickly become the process tool of record for image sensor manufacturers."


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Sony standardization efforts

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Sony presents its effort to make its proprietary image sensor interface SLVS-EC a new international standard. Here's an excerpt from a recently published interview with K. Koide, M. Akahide, and H. Takahashi of the Sony Semiconductor Solutions group.  

Koide:I work in the standardization for the mobility area. Products in this category, such as automobiles, are strictly regulated by laws and regulations because of their immediate implications to society, the natural environment, and economic activities as well as to people’s lives and assets. Therefore, products that fail to comply with these laws and regulations cannot even make it to the market. On top of the compliance as a prerequisite, safety must be ensured. This “safety” requires cooperation of diverse stakeholders, from those who are involved in car manufacturing, automotive components, and transport infrastructure such as road systems to road users and local residents. My responsibilities include identifying the rules to be established in order to ensure safety as well as considering the domains and technology relevant to the rules where SSS Group can make its contributions and preparing our business strategies ready for the implementation.

Takahashi:I am involved in the standardization concerning the telecommunication of mobile devices like smartphones and automotive mobility devices. The telecommunication requires the transmitter and the receiver of signals use the same language, and standardization is essential for this reason. The telecommunication subgroup is standardizing the protocol, process, and electronic signal concerning the communication between an image sensor and processor.

Akahide:Like Takahashi-san, I am working on the standardization of image sensor interfaces. This is intended for image sensors for industrial applications. I was invited to work with the Japan Industrial Imaging Association (JIIA) on standardization because they wanted to standardize our SLVS-EC, a high-speed interface which SSS Group developed. As mentioned earlier, interfaces would be worth very little if they were not adopted widely. I believe that this standardization is very important for us, too, so that our high-speed interface will be diffused. At the same time, it is also important to develop a strategy for the future success of the product by determining what to be made open and what should be kept closed.

Koide:The world is growing more complex, and the COVID-19 pandemic is causing more uncertainties. Against this backdrop, there are serious discussions in progress about digitizing road systems, realizing zero-emission vehicles, and so on. The mobility industry is now experiencing a major social paradigm shift. At times like these, what we have for solidarity is order and rules to attain a better world. It is very important to understand these order and rules without prejudice, and to do this, we must engage with the world outside our boundaries, observing and understanding the world from their point of view. I believe that the activities with the mobility industry, including the initiative for developing the international standards, are valuable for me in this sense. For I am engaged in activities for the mobility industry, providing society with safety and security should be my priority. I will therefore continue my best efforts in this standardization initiative while also contributing to the business growth of our company.

Takahashi:For me, it will be making appropriate rules. There is a well-known episode about the washing machines. In 2001, Singapore suspended importing Japanese top-loading washing machines with a spinning drum. The reason for this was that these products did not comply with the international standards. They surely complied with the Japanese industrial standards, but not the international standards, which were based on IEC standards for front-loading single-drum machines popular in Europe and America. Rules have the power to control. As a chair, I would like to pursue making rules that are appropriate and that do not work against SSS Group.
From a more specific viewpoint, there is the issue concerning image sensors. They are increasingly sophisticated that captured image data can be edited easily, boosting the added value of the sensors. However, there was a problematic incident. When a major earthquake hit Kumamoto, someone uploaded on social media a fake video footage of a lion set loose from the local zoo, which many people believed. Security will be important about camera information in the future, and it is necessary to be able to verify the authenticity of images. I hope that new standards will be established to help prevent fake images such as this from being circulated.

Akahide:Joining the SDO has made me realize that everyone has high hopes for SSS Group. My next step will be dedicated to the standardization of our technology and, also as a vice leader of the Global Standardization Advancement Committee, I should be making contributions to the machine vision sector.


The interview does not provide any technical information about SLVS-EC and how it differs from the MIPI M-PHY standard.

Full interview available here:

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SmartSens 50MP Ultra-High-Resolution Image Sensor

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

SmartSens has launched an ultra high resolution image sensor based on a 22nm process. SC550XS is their first 50MP ultra-high resolution image sensor with a 1.0μm pixel size. The new product adopts the advanced 22nm HKMG Stack process as well as SmartSens’ multiple proprietary technologies, including SmartClarity®-2 technology, SFCPixel® technology and PixGain HDR® technology to enable excellent imaging performance. In addition, it can achieve 100% all pixel all direction auto focus coverage via AllPix ADAF® technology and is equipped with MIPI C-PHY 3.0Gsps high-speed data transmission interface. The product is designed to address the requirements of flagship smartphone main camera in terms of night vision full-color imaging, high dynamic range, and low power consumption.

Full press release:

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