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CMOS image sensors increase design flexibility

Posted: 21 Oct 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CMOS? image sensor? 5Mpixel camera?

ST image sensor

STMicroelectronics presented details of its roadmap for new 5Mpixel CMOS image sensors for camera phone handsets. The standard quarter-inch optical format sensors offer a choice of features at the 5Mpixel resolution.

ST's new sensors increase design flexibility, with options including raw Bayer or SoC sensors, support for Extended Depth of Field (EDoF) or cameras with an on-chip autofocus driver, high-speed industry-standard data interfaces and package technologies supporting conventional camera assemblies, as well as the latest ultrasmall wafer-level cameras.

The announcement follows the launch of 3Mpixel EDoF sensors announced by ST in February 2009. "Our new 5Mpixel quarter-inch sensors are part of our strategy to build a complete and competitive EDoF sensor roadmap," said Arnaud Laflaquiere, sensor business unit director at ST. "Utilizing our most advanced 65/45nm pixel technology with unique techniques to maximize image quality, as well as packaging compatible with wafer-level camera (WLC) assembly, enables us to deliver a wide range of innovative and attractive solutions at competitive system costs."

Engineering samples of the first of these sensors are available now, and the roadmap will continue with new product introductions throughout the remainder of 2009. ST's 65/45nm pixel process underpinning this family enables a pixel size of 1.4m, allowing 5Mpixel cameras within dimensions of 6.5mm x 6.5mm and a low module height of typically 5mm to enable ultralow-profile handset designs. The sensors will also benefit from ST's unique pixel-isolation techniques, which maximize the sensor's signal-to-noise ratio to deliver best-in-class image quality.

Among the new devices to be introduced, the 6.5mm Bayer sensors will allow the increase of pixel density in handsets where image processing is performed by either the host system or with a stand-alone ISP. By also offering a choice of SoC sensors, ST allows further miniaturization of camera-phones by embedding functions such as the EDoF processor used to maximize the camera's depth of field. This saves designers implementing auto-focusing capability and also keeps the cost and mechanical size in line with standard Fixed-Focus modules. Other sensors in the roadmap will serve applications where auto-focus is preferred by integrating a Voice Coil Motor driver for the focusing mechanism.

The sensors will feature industry-standard parallel interfaces, enabling direct connection to the majority of processors for cellphone applications. All the sensors will include single-line or dual-line 1GHz Camera Serial Interface, as defined by the Mobile Industry Processor Interface alliance, and the 650Mbit/s Compact Camera Port interface defined by the Standard Mobile Imaging Architecture group, leading to benefits in compact form factor and support for high data rates promoting high-speed image transfer.

ST will offer standard-die and through-silicon via (TSV) packaging in the 5Mpixel roadmap. The standard packaging will support cameras combining Chip-On-Board sensor connection and discrete optical components. TSV enables emerging technologies such as WLC, which offers fully automated camera assembly at the wafer level, promises cost savings as well as quality improvements in future generations of camera phones and other digital imaging products.

For application notes on image sensors click here.

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