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SK Hynix invests $1.8M in image sensor start-up

Posted: 24 Aug 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DRAM? HBM? hyperspectral sensors? germanium?

SK Hynix has invested about $1.8 million (2.2 billion won) and acquired a 9.1 per cent stake in an image sensor start-up from Silicon Valley, Stratio Technology Inc., the Korean Times reported.

An official from SK Hynix noted, however, that there was no official statement about the said investment yet.

Founded in 2013 by four PhD students from Stanford University, Stratio is known for developing germanium-based hyperspectral image sensors. The core technology applies a proprietary hybrid process that combines selective germanium epitaxial growth with established silicon CMOS technology to overcome the limitations and costs of conventional InGaAs-based short wavelength infrared (SWIR) sensors.

Hyperspectral sensors are expected to have applications in food processing, automotive and industrial vision and sorting, construction and medical applications, such as providing diabetic sufferers with bloodless glucose monitoring.

Stratio multi-pixel sensors have been built with power consumption of less than 100mW and operate over a broader spectrum than InGaAs. The lower power consumption makes the technology potentially suitable for inclusion in mobile equipment.

Stratio has received a minor funding in October from K Cube Ventures, a local venture company that supports young entrepreneurs in Korea. The Chilean government has also offered back-up programmes to the company, allowing the Silicon Valley start-up to operate in the South American country with $40,000 funding for half a year.

The company also presented on its technology at Semicon West in July 2015.

SK Hynix, on the other hand, has started working on its CMOS Image Sensor business in 2007, a move aimed at reducing its reliance on DRAMs and at diversifying its business portfolios. In 2012, the company used its image sensor-embedded back-side illumination technology to develop products.

Last month, the Korean memory chipmaker finally showed its high bandwidth memory (HBM) module in a downstream product after announcing it early last year. SK Hynix claimed it to be the world's first 8Gbit module developed using 2Gbit, 20nm node, DDR4 SDRAM. The HBM module appears in AMD's Radeon 390X Fury X graphics card.

- Stephen Padilla
??With inputs from Peter Clarke

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