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Foveon collaborates with South Korean manufacturing leviathan - Dongbu Electronics today disclosed it has been working closely with Silicon Valley based Foveon since Q4 of 2004 to support the manufacturer’s development of the world’s highest resolution CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) devices.
Volume production of the latest Foveon X3 direct image sensors, featuring resolutions up to 14.1 Megapixels for professional digital photography, will ramp to more than 1,000 8-inch wafers per month utilizing Dongbu’s special CIS wafer processing technology at the 180nm node.
Dongbu reports that it has manufactured more than 1,500 pre-production samples of Foveon’s new 14.1 Megapixel device since May to verify the new device’s exceptional performance in silicon. Volume production has begun, and the latest addition to Foveon’s X3 direct image sensor family will soon be available in new professional quality cameras from Sigma Corporation of Japan. Sigma is exhibiting its new SD14 camera during Photokina 2006, which opens its six-day run today in Cologne, Germany. This new professional camera is powered by Foveon’s latest X3 CIS device, enabled by advanced CMOS wafer processing performed by Dongbu.
Foveon’s proprietary X3 technology is the only image sensor technology that stacks red, green and blue pixels vertically, increasing the information density of the recorded image while simultaneously eliminating the color sampling artifacts found in other image sensors. The layers of pixels are embedded in silicon to take advantage of the fact that red, green, and blue light penetrate silicon to different depths – enabling the first and only image sensor technology that captures full color at every point in the captured image.
“Our CIS wafer processing is second to none in the foundry industry, and we are very pleased to enable Foveon’s revolutionary pixel-stacking architecture to come to market,” said Dr. Jae Song, Dongbu’s EVP of Marketing. “Foveon’s X3 architecture packs three times as many pixels into a given silicon area, reducing the amount of silicon needed to achieve high resolution." He noted that the savings in silicon area made possible by Foveon’s technology are achieved in the cost-effective 180nm process node.
Dr. Song anticipates cost further efficiencies to come from higher foundry productivity and more fully leveraging Foveon technologies in concert with its own expanding IP portfolio. Since Dongbu committed to advancing CIS wafer processing technology about four years ago, the Korean foundry has acquired 20 CIS patents at home and abroad, while consistently improving quality in the areas of resolution, dynamic range and photo-sensitivity.
According to Dave Matteucci, Foveon VP of Operations, “We’re very pleased with our new manufacturing partner’s quality, cost and customer service. We look forward to continuing our productive collaboration with Dongbu Electronics as we strategically target high volume market opportunities with ultra-compact high-resolution image sensors.”
In addition specializing in CIS wafer processing, Dongbu also focuses on improving wafer processing for both High Voltage and LCD Driver IC (LDI) devices. By enabling the production of specialized devices at ever finer line widths, Dongbu aims to distinguish itself as the preferred “specialty solution partner” among fabless companies large and small.