Agreement to Sell Business
Green - Off The Shelf
White - Product of Interest
JULY 15th, 2005
Addressing the digital camera and phone camera market, IBM has made
available a foundry service based on its 0.18 micron copper CMOS semiconductor process image sensor technology licensed from
Kodak. The design kit enables the integration of a 4-transistor, 3 micron pixel technology and components from IBM’s
image sensor design library. IBM indicates that the technology features dark current specifications that permit the design
of cameras that are able to operate well in low-light settings. Other technology features IBM points to include on-chip color
filters and microlens, angle response performance as well as a 2.5 micron copper stack, which is often incorporated to improve
light collection efficiency.
Tom Reeves, Vice President, Semiconductor Products for IBM Systems
& Technology Group also listed benefits of IBM technology for phone photo applications, "IBM is bringing its extensive
copper semiconductor process experience to bear on the CMOS image sensor market, offering clients what we believe is the best
foundry technology available today. Our innovative technology produces sensors with excellent color accuracy, low noise and
very competitive low-light performance that can help clients differentiate their products in this competitive and growing
Chris McNiffe, General Manager of Kodak's Image Sensor solutions
business, which also has its own line of image sensors, had this to say about the combination of Kodak and IBM technology,
"We are pleased to see Kodak's image sensor technology at the heart of IBM's new foundry offering. Our collaboration with
IBM has been extremely successful thus far, leveraging our respective strengths in imaging and semiconductor manufacturing."
JULY 14th, 2005
Shellcase Works on China Market With Wafer Level Package Technology
Shellcase Ltd., which estimates that its chip packages are used in over 30 percent of all camera
phone headsets, has continued its market leadership with a license for its wafer-level chip size packaging from China WLSCP,
a semiconductor packaging house based in Suzhou, China.
China WLSCP sees wide acceptance for the product in the optical
market. According to Wang Wei, CEO of China WLCSP, "We are thrilled to partner with Shellcase and bring this much needed miniaturization
technology to the Chinese market. I expect that WLCSP will soon become the packaging option of choice for optical device manufacturers
Shellcase recently introduced its latest package solution for optical
devices that include microlenses. Called the ShellUltraThin, the very thin clear package is designed to allow the camera to
process images through the package.
Shellcase offers packages for CMOS and CCD area array and linear
sensors, photodiodes, as well as RF-MEMS and mixed signal devices.
JULY 11th, 2005
As a strategic business move, Eastman Kodak Company, known for its
photography technology and cameras throughout the world, has licensed its CMOS image sensor technology to Taiwan Semiconductor
Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC) (NYSE:TSM)(TSE:2330). The Kodak technologies license includes four-transistor (4T) pixel
and pinned photo-diode pixel architectures, which are expected to be available through TSMC for other semiconductor companies
to base their CMOS image sensors designs on. According to TSMC’s Ken Chen, Director of Mainstream Technology Marketing,
"As the leading foundry for CMOS image sensors (CIS), TSMC is committed to providing the most advanced CIS technology for
our customers. This agreement with Kodak will allow TSMC to continue our leadership position in CIS by supporting manufacture
of the most advanced, state-of-the-art CIS designs, and to provide a licensed manufacturing platform to all CIS design companies
to meet the growing industry demands for image sensors used in digital camera and mobile imaging applications."
TSMC indicates that the license agreement is part of Kodak’s
plan to use its intellectual property as a way to further revenue from the growing mass consumer market, which is using CMOS
image sensors on items such as cellular phones. According to Chris McNiffe, General Manager of Kodak's Image Sensor
Solutions business, "This agreement further expands Kodak's ability to meet the exploding demand for CIS devices used in consumer
imaging applications. Our agreement with TSMC augments our existing manufacturing agreements, and again demonstrates Kodak's
commitment to execute its digital strategy. We are excited to be working with TSMC to support the manufacture of CIS designs
that utilize Kodak's core IP."
JULY 1st, 2005
Blue7 Communications, founded in 2002, has demonstrated its all CMOS UWB
Windeo chipset. The demonstration provided for uninterrupted wireless MPEG Video Streaming at 106.7 Mbps over a distance of
20 meters. In order to demonstrate the capability to transmit through common obstacles found in the home, the transmitter
and receiver were separated by two walls and a group of people. Applications for the company’s chip set includes DVD
players, Digital Cameras, HDTVs, PDAs and Set Top boxes.
JUNE 29th, 2005
OmniVision Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq:OVTI), considered one of the
largest providers of CMOS image sensors for the cellular digital camera market, reported increased revenues for its latest
fourth quarter and fiscal year. For its fiscal fourth quarter ended April 30, 2005, it reported revenues of $103.0 million
compared to $99.7 million for the same quarter a year ago. For its fiscal year ended April 30, 2005, it reported revenue of
$388.1 million compared to $318.1 million compared to the year ended April 30, 2004, a 22 percent increase.
Commenting on the financial report and events of the year was Shaw
Hong, OmniVision's President and CEO, "The company made significant progress in fiscal 2005, and we are optimistic about our
future. We are pleased to have successfully completed the transition of our product line to the new OmniPixel technology platform
and to have completed the acquisition of CDM Optics. We are also pleased to have been informed by the SEC staff that their
informal inquiry has been terminated without any recommendation for any enforcement action.”
Mr. Hong also gave a forecast for the company’s first quarter,
and prospects for the second quarter, "We currently expect that revenues for the first quarter of fiscal 2006, which ends
on July 31, will be in the range of $90 million to $100 million. However, design wins in recent months give us confidence
that we will see a resumption of top-line growth beginning in the second quarter of the new fiscal year.
He also noted the company’s cash position, "The strength of
our business is reflected in the fact that we ended the year with cash and short-term investments totaling almost $300 million.
Our confidence is underscored by the Board's decision authorizing the repurchase of up to an aggregate of $100 million of
our common stock."
JUNE 15th, 2005
Pixim Closes $12 Million for Image Capture and Processing
Pixim , Inc., a company that provides software and silicon for digital cameras capture and
process image applications has closed a $12 million investment round. The funding was made available through Mohr Davidow
Ventures, Mayfield, and Newbury Ventures, Honda Motor Company Ltd. and Atrium Venture Partners.
The funds are planned for the development of new interactive products
based on the company's Digital Pixel System technology. The company is already shipping its D2000 chipset, which includes
a digital image sensor and digital image processor, to over 15 camera manufacturers. The camera companies have based security
and surveillance camera systems on the D2000.
The company indicates that the technology incorporated into the
chipset enables images to be seen in either well or poorly lit environments. Pixim also suggests that cameras are expected
to become a part of most automobiles. To meet that emerging market trend, the company has found a partner in the automotive
market. According to Joe Montalbo, CEO, "We're pleased to continue to receive excellent support from our investors, and look
forward to working closely with Honda and Atrium."
JUNE 9th, 2005
Optosecurity Lands $2.4 Million in First Round
Optosecurity, Inc., a company with luggage and cargo screening technology, has closed a $2.4
million (Canadian) investment round. This first round was led by Business Development Bank of Canada Seed Investment Group
and included funding from Innovatech Quebec.
Eric Bergeron, President and CEO of Optosecurity, noted the initial
market response to its technology "Government regulators and screening equipment vendors from around the world immediately
recognized how unique and valuable Optosecurity products and technology can be -- we are actively in discussions with several
partners who appreciate the full impact of our technology and how it will revolutionize security screening."
Elaborating slightly on the nature of the technology was Jean-Guy
Paquet, President and CEO of INO, "We are delighted that Optosecurity has obtained financing which will allow this promising
company to break new grounds with the use of the Optical Computing technology. We are very happy to once again offer the private
sector INO's vast expertise developed over the years through our team of qualified researchers."
Optosecurity's product, which is used in the design of systems for
the detection of weapons or explosives is based on the Optical Correlator. The company obtained exclusive rights for the Optical
Correlator from the National Optics Institute (INO), which spun-off Optosecurity. INO is considered Canada's largest R&D
center in applied photonics. INO research operations are focused on microoptic technology based on micro-electro-mechanical
system (MEMS) optics. The organization uses software from ANSYS to simulate its microoptic based MEMS designs.
JUNE 9th, 2005
Nethra Imaging Offers Digital Camera Chips - Primes Cellular
Phones for Photo Printer Applications
Nethra Imaging has made available its image processing engine chips for digital still cell
phone applications. The family of chips is named the NI-2070, NI-2080 and NI-2090. Inside the chips, packaged in an 8 mm X
8 mm chip scale package are 32KB of SRAM, 64KB of Flash, SDRAM and an ARM core. The System on Chip (SOC) designs also includes
pulse width modulators, IO functions and peripheral interfaces. Both the 2080 and 2090 include integrated SDRAM memory.
The company noted that the chips feature low power consumption and
can be used to produce photo images that are suitable for high quality print applications. The series of chip is currently
available for evaluation and software development. Production is scheduled for the third quarter of 2005.
Nethra Imaging, incorporated in 2003, is located in Cupertino California.
APRIL 28th, 2005
Tak Imaging, an image processing based fabless company with sites
on the consumer photo printer market, has added $10 million in funding. The funds will support the launch of its
imaging solutions for the photo-enabled printer market. According to Doug Goodyear, CEO at TAK Imaging, "In a
short time we will enter the market with very compelling solutions to power the next generation of consumer photo printers.
We will be a catalyst for a step change improvement in the overall photo printing experience."
Investors in the round that the company lists include JVP (Jerusalem
Venture Partners), Sofinnova Partners, Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures, Ventech, SPEF Venture, Innovacom and CrossBridge
Venture Partners of Japan. The funding adds to $16.25 million Tak raised in Series C funding in January of 2004.
Tak's current products include the STAKPRO-800 SOC, which is behind
the new Konica Minolta 2430 DL color laser printer. That printer obtained the CNET Next Big Thing Award at CES in Las Vegas.
APRIL 25th, 2005
Intematix Licenses White LED Phosphor Nanotechnology to LumiMicro
Intematix Corporation, a Nano Discovery Engines company based in Moraga, California has entered into
a license agreement with LumiMicro of Suwon Gyunggi-do, Korea for its white LED phosphor technologies. Intematix' technology
is expected to be incorporated into LumiMicro product base, which includes for power LED applications such as camera flashes
The CEO of Intematix, Ruediger Stroh, addressed the significance of the
agreement, "Our two companies recognize the importance of the high power applications, especially in the context of the rapidly
growing and commoditizing backlight and camera flash segments. We are committed to the high power markets for the long-term,
and are willing to invest in those emerging applications while serving today's volume needs. LumiMicro is an innovator whose
products perform at the very highest levels of that competitive landscape, and we are honored by LumiMicro's validation of
our patent- backed phosphors in the context of these key market segments. The power LED market segment is very important to
all serious participants in the solid state lighting market. The availability of Intematix phosphors and their acceptance
by leaders such as LumiMicro will begin a market transformation leading to truly cost-effective, high performance power LED
production. The combination of our patent-backed phosphor compositions and the impressive technologies at LumiMicro will make
for a successful relationship on the road to transforming the industry."
APRIL 7th, 2005
DALSA Corporation (TSX:DSA), a Canadian Corporation, has received
contracts from two original equipment manufactures, valued at around 2.9 million Canadian dollars. The company indicates that
the majority of the order will be delivered in 2005, with about one-third of the order scheduled for delivery in 2006.
The image sensor chips are to be used in parcel sorting systems throughout the world. Brian Doody, President, DALSA
Digital Imaging explained DALSA positioning in this market, "Parcel sorting is an important end market for our imaging business.
Our ongoing investment in R&D and strong product roadmap allow us to maintain our leadership position while continuing
to meet the challenging requirements of our valued customers."
APRIL 6th, 2005
Dai Nippon Printing Embeds Apical's Image Enhancement
Technology Into ASIC For Display Market
A hardware version of Apical Limited's digital image enhancement
software is expected to be sold by Dai Nippon Printing. The chip is scheduled for sampling in July 2005 and for production
in October 2005.
The ASIC chip permits the correction of motion video in real time
and in still pictures. The ASIC is targeted for a wide variety of applications. These include digital still cameras,
digital camcorders, projectors, scanners and video capture and recording equipment.
Dai Nippon Printing founded in the 1800s is well-known as one of
the world's largest printing companies. The company has over the years diversified into a number of other areas, which include
electronic components, photomask production and LSI design services, which it provides for most Japanese semiconductor companies.
MARCH 31st, 2005
With 1st Silicon's completion of the pre-production steps for three
color photoreceiver cells, UniqueICs LLC of Russia, a subsidiary of Kedah Wafer Emas (KWE) of Malaysia, should have its three
color image sensors on the market soon. Now that the final phase of the design is complete, 1st Silicon plans to manufacture
the technology on its 0.25 micron standard CMOS mixed signal process. UniqueICs now offers samples of 1.3-Megapixel sensors
and plans volume production in the springtime. 3 Megapixal to 10 Megapixel products are expected later as product process
UniqueIC is a fabless semiconductor company with an emphasis on
optoelectronics. The company, which is headquartered in Zelenograd, has over 130 employees.
MARCH 30th, 2005
Taiwan Advanced Sensors Corporation received a patent for a CMOS Image
Sensor. U.S. Patent No. 6,867,806 is entitled "Interlace overlap pixel design for high sensitivity CMOS image sensors. The
patent refers to a CMOS image sensor that has been specifically designed to reduce cost and improve performance.
MARCH 22nd, 2005
Zoran has announced that its COACH 7 digital camera processor is in tow
of Samsung's latest digital cameras, the Digimax V700 and Digimax U-CA 5. The V700 camera, the higher resolution of the two,
features a 7.1 megapixel resolution and a two inch LCD screen. Talking about the camera, Mr. B.D. Nam, Vice President of DSC
Development Center at Samsung Techwin Co., LTD stated, "The new Digimax V700 and U-CA 5 digital cameras offer outstanding
image resolution for photographers who want to print their high-quality digital photographs or capture video clips of fast
action events. Zoran continues to work with us to deliver distinctive digital cameras that produce high quality images and
enable the newest technology, such as Safety Flash image clarity, for consumers."
According to Ohad Meitav, Senior Director Digital Camera Product Line,
Zoran's Mobile division. "This is the fifth generation of Digimax cameras that we have worked with Samsung to deliver to market.
We are proud to be able to work with industry leader Samsung to deliver a new generation of high performance digital cameras
that help digital photographers improve their photos while also allowing them to
capture and preserve their own movie clips."
MARCH 7th, 2005
As Vision Capsule Market Emerges, Companies Look
at Data Capsules
Vision capsules, or
cameras in a pill, used to photograph the internal digestive system to diagnose and analyze diseases, is another market growth
market that CMOS image sensors producers see as promising. Givens Imaging and Micron Technology, are the first two companies
to benefit from the application, but now other companies such as MagnaChip have introduced products that address the IC in
a Pill market, a market that must consider the precarious logistics associated with the literal consumption of integrated
CMOS image sensors
companies that succeed in the medical market may require a well-grounded background in clinical trials in addition to ISO
certified wafer fabrication facilities. SmartPill Diagnostics, Inc. is one company that has started clinical trials on its
SmartPill, which unlike Vision Capsules, which just take snapshots, is described by the company as an ingestible biomedical
data collection device. Its SmartPill ACT-I Capsule and GI Monitoring System are now under review at Massachusetts General
Hospital. The trials involve over 130 subjects, which include 70 control patients and 60 gastroparetic patients from five
sites. The trials are expected to be completed in May and will include results from Temple University Hospital and three other
unnamed sites. The company anticipates that after meeting other regulatory requirements and submissions, the product will
be ready for the market later this year.
also plans to have a CMOS image sensor for the vision capsule market in mass production in the second half of 2005. The product
is expected to the basis for a capsule camera that can generate 2 images every second. The vision capsule will transmit the
pictures wirelessly to a digital image recorder worn by the patient. The capsule camera has also been designed to operate
for up to 8 hours, and operate long enough to take over 50,000 pictures.
that its product has received a significant amount of attention because of the high image quality and its capability to operate
in low-level light conditions. In order to achieve this, MagnaChip's image sensor makes use of LED technology. White light
LEDs have recently made news as a potential alternative to the incandescent light bulbs.
MARCH 2, 2005
OmniVision Reports Revenues, Guidance Suggests
Uncertainty Next Quarter, Toys Suggest More
OmniVision Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:OVTI)
is one fabless semiconductor company that caught the crest of the CMOS image sensor wave.
As an illustration of this, the company reported that its revenue for its third quarter ended January 31, 2005 was
$101.9 million. This compares to the companies annual revenue run rate in the
order of $50 million just a few short years ago. So has the wave crested? Last year, its third quarter revenue was $93.6 million. The company projects that next quarter its revenue will range between $93 million
and $103 million.
So with the cellular phone camera market
CMOS image sensors needs attended to, what will OmniVision do for growth? The
company was last seen at the American International Toy Fair in New York. There at booth 5240, the company has been demonstrating
applications of its OV810 low-cost image sensor. Hasan Gadjali, director of marketing for advanced products, says that the
OV810 will enable low-cost toys to be built with intelligent optical sensor technology. The company believes that the sensor
will result in very advanced, low-cost intelligent toys. Specific toys the company points to are dolls that recognize their
owners, toy trains that will respond to train signals and toys that move according to commands - all which seems to suggest
that it won’t be long before toys will learn to pick up after themselves. In the future, you won't have to tell your
daughter to put her dolls in the toy chest. The dolls at the end of the day (9:00
P.M. exactly) will walk to their doll house and tuck themselves neatly into their tiny beds. Unless their teenage dolls, in
that case they will drive their toy car to their doll house, and of course will be programmed to arrive at unpredictable times. Well behaved dolls will cost more.
The OV810 is available now. OmniVision
gives the price at $1.50 per unit in die form for volume production.
FEBRUARY 15th, 2005
Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE:CY) announced on
the 14th of February that it has entered into a definitive
agreement to acquire SMaL Camera Technologies, a provider of ASIC controller and wide dynamic range CMOS image sensors. The
move is apparently part of Cypress’ strategy to enter into the high-volume camera chip business. In 2004, Cypress acquired
another image sensor integrated circuit company, Belgium based FillFactory N.V., which is now a part of Cypress’ Memory
Products Group. SMaL will also be integrated into the memory group.
SMaL is noted for the thinnest camera on record (6 mm-thin). With
the acquisition, SMaL brings with a customer base that it has shipped over 2 million of its credit-card cameras to. These
customers in addition to the leading tier one automotive companies, include Creative Labs, FujiFilm, Logitech, NHJ Limited,
and Oregon Scientific
Cypress has offered to purchase the company for $42.5 million in cash.
As with most acquisitions today, the buyout is tied to a performance-based incentive plan. These plans often attach an extra
bonus under the condition the acquired company achieve specific performance goals within specified time limits – that
is revenue levels. SMaL had revenue of $10.5 million in its fiscal 2004 year. Projected revenues for SMaL are $20 million
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Sensitive Image Sensor Company, Advasense, raises $4 Million for
efforts to develop a CMOS image sensor, which is fifteen to thirty times more sensitive than the most advanced sensors of
today, was rewarded with $4 million in funding. The funding came from Nokia Venture Partners and Giza Venture Capital. Applications for the sensor were stated to include digital cameras and mobile phones.
Because of the sensitivity however, the applications may be for very high end items, such as microscopes and telescopic cameras
and sophisticated camera cell phones.
CAMERA CHIPS IN THE NEWS
JANUARY 19th, 2005
First Cell Phone with Hard Disk Drive Contains
TI’s Image Processor
Texas Instruments announced that Samsung Electronics selected its OMAP-DM270 processor to be a part of its disk based cell phone. The phone,
is noted as the first phone in the world to contain a hard disk drive (most cell phones use flash chip based memory). This development has to make flash chip companies stop and wonder. Will flash chip technology take over hard disk drives or the other way around? Apple’s latest iPod
uses flash chips. But in the past it used a hard disk drive. Samsung’s hard disk drive phone is capable of storing images
and video. Texas Instruments image processor technology is also expected to be seen in three more of Samsung’s camera
phones. Texas Instruments is also one of the world’s largest suppliers
of hard disk drive chips.
JANUARY 17th, 2005
Microelectronic Video Capsule - Micron
Technology’s Claim to Medical Market
Micron Technology Inc. reports that it is the exclusive supplier of
a CMOS imager used in Given Imaging’s award winning microelectronic pill.. Today the microelectronic camera can be taken
as an alternative to other medical diagnostic procedures. The FDA approved camera pill has the capability to both take and
relay pictures of the internal anatomy once swallowed by a patient.
Digital camera chips (CMOS image sensors, camera controllers and processors) have been one of the major
contributors to revenue growth in the semiconductor market in 2003 and 2004. One of the reasons is cell phone cameras.
The market in late 2004 has been characterized by acquisition activity. Agilent Technologies, for example, in late October
2004, entered into an agreement to sell its camera module business to Flextronics, a business fueled by Agilent's semiconductor
products. National Semiconductor in September of 2004 sold its CMOS image sensor technology to Kodak. Kodak in late September
2004 aligned with IBM. Under this agreement IBM will manufacture camera chips, which the two companies develop.
The list of companies also include one photoflash chip producer. Advanced Analogic produces a White LED Driver chip,
which performs the flash function for camera cell phones.
Soundpix offers audio chipware for digital camera applications. Texas Instruments utilizes this company's chipware to
give its digital camera chips the ability to add sound to pictures.
Arima and Axis Communications aren't directly involved in the merchant chip market. These two companies have however
devloped their own chips for use in their camera products.