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Toshiba Develops Industry's Smallest CMOS Image Sensor with Integral Lens Only 1/7-inch, but with full CIF-compatibility

17 May, 1999

TOKYO--Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has developed the world's smallest and lightest complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor with an integral lens. At only 1/7-inch, the sensor is fully compatible with the Common Intermediate Format (CIF) for videoconferencing. Its power consumption is significantly lower than that of any comparable charge-coupled device (CCD), and it is only 10mm wide and deep and 6mm high. Available in both color (TCM5023LU) and black and white (TCM5020LU) versions, the sensor's small size and high level of performance is expected to spur wider demand for PCs with built in cameras and portable videophones.

Samples of the sensor are available from today at 3,000 yen per unit, with commercial quantities available from September 1999.

The 1/7-inch size of the new image sensor and its 10x10x6mm package size positions it as the ideal image-input device for a new generation of small, personal multimedia tools. The integration of the lens into the sensor eliminates any need for assembly of optical components when building the device into cameras or PDAs, promoting reduced manufacturing costs and shorter development times.

Use of CMOS process technology cuts power demands made on battery-powered personal equipment. Operation requires only a 2.8V single power supply, and consumption is 15mW. The sensor's power consumption is only approximately 1/5 that of an equivalent CCD camera system, even with its dedicated digital-signal processing chip (DSP), which integrates key peripheral circuitry, including correlated double sampling noise reduction, an automatic gain controller to stabilize output levels, and a 10-bit A/D converter.

The potential advantages of CMOS is attracting widespread industry attention as an alternative to CCDs in image sensors. In this emerging area, Toshiba's image sensor represents a major breakthrough in achieving CMOS pixel cells small enough for application in commercial products, such as PDAs, ultra-compact cameras, portable videophones, and PCs and toys with built-in cameras. The company's latest pixel-cell circuit structure shrinks the cell size and achieves new levels of integration by incorporating such basic elements as photodiodes and transistors into a 5.6 x 5.6 square micron cell. In performance, the sensor is fully CIF-compatible, meeting the format's specification for a 352-horizontal by 288-vertical pixel frame with an effective pixel count of approximately 100,000 pixels.

Advantages of CMOS Image Sensors over CCDs as Image Sensors
As both the sensor and all required peripheral circuitry are formed with CMOS process technology, integration into a single system-on-chip is much easier. An additional plus is that the latest advances in fine design rule technology used in LSIs such as DRAMs can be adopted immediately, allowing density increases and size reductions to be achieved far more readily than is possible with CCD image sensors.

CCD image sensors require three different voltages, each with separate power supplies to drive them, while CMOS devices require only a low voltage, single power supply. This is a key factor in giving the CMOS device an enormous five-fold advantage in power consumption while minimizing the amount of chip real-estate devoted to power supplies.

Toshiba will continue to exploit the inherent advantages of the CMOS process to pack more pixels into smaller chips and to integrate peripheral circuitry into a single system-on-chip, and will continue to develop image sensors for future ultra-compact cameras.

Major Specifications
CMOS Image sensor
Model nameTCM5023LU
Optical System Size1/7-inch
Total pixel numbers382(H) x 306(V) (approx. 110,000 pixels)
Effective pixel numbers352(H) x 288(V) (approx. 100,000 pixels)
Image size2.055(H) x 1.624mm(V)
Scanning systemProgressive scanning
Color filter arrayRGB Bayer arrangement
Cell size5.6 x 5.6 microns square
Chip size10(W) x 10(D) x 6mm(H)
Drive voltage2.8V
Power consumption15mW
Sample Price3,000 yen

DSP chip
Model nameTC90A50F
Drive voltage2.8V
Integrated circuitsCDS (Correlated Double Sampling)
AGC (Automatic Gain Controller)
10 bit A/D converter

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