Samsung’s Smartphone camera is going to be developed to a standard that comes close to that of an expensive broadcasting equipment.
Reason being is because Samsung Electronics developed and is going to start mass-producing super-fast image sensor that can take up to 1,000 pictures in a second. With this sensor, Smartphone camera will be able to implement images such as ‘Slow Motion’ that is used to decide whether or not a referee made a correct decision in pro baseball. It is expected that Smartphone camera equipped with this sensor will be useful in capturing an object’s movement in detail such as fixing posture of a person who is swinging a golf club.
According to industries on the 17th, Samsung Electronics is going to start mass-producing ‘3-layered image sensor’ in November. This image sensor is made into a layered structure by connecting a system semiconductor (logic chip) that is in charge of calculations and DRAM chip that can temporarily store data through TSV (Through Silicon Via) technology. Samsung Electronics currently ordered special equipment for mass-production and is going to start mass-producing ‘3-layered image sensor’ after doing pilot operation in next month.
Image sensor that is used for current premium Smartphones is based on 2-layered structure that is composed of a sensor and a logic chip. If DRAM chip is added to this composition, a technology that rapidly can take up to 1,000 pictures in a second can be implemented.
3-layered structure was first commercialized by SONY, which is the top business in global markets for image sensors, earlier this year and it was used for SONY’s premium Smartphones such as Xperia XZ and XZ1 that were released this year. Micron’s 1Gb DRAM was added to SONY’s 3-layered structure.
SONY’s product inserts Micron’s DRAM chip between an image sensor and a logic chip. SONY established a batch process system that attaches a sensor, a DRAM chip, and a logic chip in a unit of a wafer. On the other hand, it is understood that Samsung Electronics is using a method that makes 2-layered structure with a sensor and a logic chip and attaches DRAM through TC (Thermal Compression) bonding method after flipping over a wafer. From productivity and production cost, SONY has an upper hand. It seems that a reason why Samsung Electronics decided to use its way is because it wanted to avoid using other patents.
SONY was the first in the world to develop 2-layered image sensor and 3-layered image sensor and is currently commercializing them. Late starters need to avoid using SONY’s patents. Due to this reason, only Samsung Electronics and OmniVision are the only ones so far that commercialized 2-layered image sensors let alone 3-layered image sensors. It is predicted that supply and demand of parts will be faster and more convenient for Samsung Electronics than SONY because Samsung Electronics can receive DRAMs internally.
Although TSV stacking technology can dramatically increase performance of a product, production cost also increases as well. Production cost goes even higher as all three chips have to be thrown away if one of them goes bad.
“Despite increase in production cost, major semiconductor industries continue to use TSV technology more frequently as value of increasing performance is higher than increased production cost.” said a representative in this industry.
It is predicted that Samsung Electronics’ 3-layered image sensors will be used for its next Galaxy Smartphones. Samsung Electronics’ Wireless Business Department has been receiving half of supply of image sensors from SONY and other half from Semiconductor Business Department. For example, it used its own image sensors for models that were released in South Korea and SONY’s image sensors for models that were released in the U.S. It is predicted that it will continue to use same plan for its next Smartphones.
However because this technology was first introduced through SONY’s Smartphones, it is unclear whether or not Wireless Business Department will actively advertise 3-layered image sensor as one of major technologies. On the other hand, iPhone X is able to take 240 pictures in a second based on full HD resolution.
Staff Reporter Han, Juyeop |