The pictures that are generated by digital still cameras are only as good as the resolution of their image sensors. The growing popularity of digital cameras and video recorders attests to these devices' ever-improving picture quality. One company that's capitalizing on the demand for quality image sensors is Micron Technology, Inc. It recently introduced two high-resolution CMOS image-sensor products.
The company's 2-Megapixel (MT9D001) and 3-Megapixel (MT9T001) sensors are the latest additions to the DigitalClarity product line. These 2- and 3-Megapixel sensors are optimized on low-leakage, 0.15- and 0.18-µm DRAM processes, respectively. The submicron processes help them achieve high image quality while maintaining the inherent simplicity, cost, and manufacturing advantages of CMOS technology. To expedite the camera design cycle, the products are backward compatible with the 1.3-Megapixel sensor (MT9M001) that was introduced in March of last year.
In comparisons based on signal-to-noise ratio and low-light sensitivity, the company claims that its DigitalClarity brand achieves CCD image quality. DigitalClarity image sensors feature several notable characteristics, such as very low dark current, minimal crosstalk, high sensitivity, and low noise.
The 2-Megapixel MT9D001 DigitalClarity image sensor is a UXGA-format, 0.5-in. CMOS digital image sensor. It utilizes 4.2-µm pixels in a Bayer RGB pattern. This sensor incorporates sophisticated camera on-chip functions like windowing; column and row skip features; and snapshot mode. It outputs a UXGA-size image at a full 20 frames per second (fps). Through advanced process and circuit techniques, the MT9D001 image sensor is capable of capturing images at 1 lux.
The 3-Megapixel MT9T001 DigitalClarity CMOS sensor also is designed for digital still cameras, video cameras, and converged DSC camcorders. It utilizes 3.2-µm pixels in a Bayer RGB pattern, which results in a 0.5-in. optical format. To produce XGA or VGA video at 30 fps, the device's video binning mode combines the signals across the entire 3-Megapixel array. The sensor output is 10 bits RGB at 12 fps. It is backward compatible with the company's 1.3-Megapixel and 2-Megapixel sensors. As a result, existing customers can upgrade rapidly. New customers should benefit from being able to introduce a range of cameras that utilize the same platform.
The 2-Megapixel MT9D001 image sensor is priced in the $10 range in quantities of 10,000. The cost of the 3-Megapixel MT9T001 image sensor is in the $13 range (also in 10,000-plus quantities). They are sampling now with shipments scheduled for late in the first quarter of this year.
Micron Technology, Inc.
8000 S. Federal Way, P.O. Box 6, Boise, ID 83707-0006; (208) 368-4000, FAX: (208) 368-2536, www.micron.com.