Rochester, N.Y. Eastman Kodak Company says it has introduced the industry's first 1.4-micron, 5-megapixel (MP) CMOS image sensor that brings a new level of performance to mass-market consumer camera applications, particularly for camera phones. To deliver a new level of resolution in small optical formats, using significantly smaller pixels, the KAC-05020 image sensor combines Kodak's recently announced color filter pattern technology with a new CMOS pixel. This translates into higher quality pictures and videos in camera phones.
Unlike other small-pixel sensors, which can produce poor images, especially under low-light conditions, the 1.4-micron pixel used in the KAC-05020 image sensor provides image quality that can equal or surpass what is available from current devices using larger, 1.75-micron pixel CMOS designs, said Kodak. Initial testing shows that Kodak's 1.4-micron device produces signal to noise ratio (SNR) results close to 2.2 micron and surpasses 1.75 micron, and maintains that lead down to 1600 ISO, which is at fairly low-light level conditions, said Fas Mosleh, worldwide director of CIS marketing and business development for Kodak's Image Sensor Solutions business.
This is the first product that implements Kodak's higher sensitivity Hi ISO Color Pattern technology with Hi ISO algorithms, which enable stop action at shorter integration times without a loss in image quality or blurring, and the pMOS hole detector, a CIS technology using a hole-based detector, which significantly increases sensitivity, as well as reduces dark current by a factor of 30x, crosstalk by about 3x to 4x and noise by about 40 percent in very small pixels.
At 5 million pixels, the KAC-05020 provides the highest resolution available in the popular 1/4-inch optical format, and enables images up to ISO 3200. The new image sensor delivers excellent low-light performance with built-in anti-shake capability and 720p HD video with stop motion at a full 30 fps, said Mosleh.
It also provides lightning fast auto-focus, support for digital still camera features such as auto focus, optical zoom, facial recognition when used with an external I-Pipe, all in a small and low-cost die size with high-resolution in a 1/4-inch format for mainstream high-volume applications, he added.
For OEMs, this means they can cost reduce right way by moving from a 1/3.2-inch to 1/4-inch format and can deliver digital still camera-like image quality and features in a small module size of 8 x 8 x 5mm fixed focus (or 8.5 x 8.5 autofocus), said Mosleh. Designed for mainstream applications, the device can replace 2- and 3-MP sensors currently used in today's camera phones, he said.
Light sensitivity is enhanced through the use of the TRUESENSE color filter pattern, or Hi ISO color pattern, which adds panchromatic, or "clear" pixels to the red, green and blue pixels already on the sensor. Since these pixels are sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light, they collect a significantly higher proportion of the light striking the sensor. This improves photo speed by a factor of 2x or 4x in sensitivity to light (1 or 2 f stops), compared to current sensor designs, which improves performance in low light and reduces motion blur in action shots, said Mosleh. The solution also offers better integration using MIPI and standard parallel interfaces, he said.
The sensor is also supported by the Texas Instruments' OMAP and OMAP-DM solutions, enabling a host of KODAK Image Processing and Enhancement Features (such as digital image stabilization, rapid auto-focus, red-eye reduction, and facial recognition) that provide digital camera-like performance in a camera phone.
The KAC-05020 will be demonstrated by Kodak at the GSMA Mobile World Congress, Feb 11-14 in Barcelona, Spain.
Pricing: <$5 each in quantities of 1 million
Availability: Samples of the KAC-05020 will be available in the second quarter of 2008. Volume production is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2008.
Product information: image sensor products
Eastman Kodak Company, 1-585-722-4385, www.kodak.com