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Foveon's X3 logo. Courtesy of Foveon Inc. Foveon licenses X3 to National Semiconductor
(Monday, March 10, 2003 - 15:31 EST)

A press release this afternoon from Foveon Inc. announces that the company has licensed National Semiconductor to manufacture and distribute its X3 image sensor technology.

National Semiconductor has had a long partnership with Foveon, dating back to well before the announcement of the X3 technology. In September 2000 the companies jointly announced a 16.8 megapixel CMOS imager, and by February 2002 when the X3 sensor was first unveiled, National was both an investor in Foveon, as well as being the only company announced as a manufacturer for the X3 image sensors.

Two products were announced at launch - the larger, higher resolution F7 image sensor that is used in Sigma's SD9 digital camera, and a 1.2 megapixel sensor that was slightly smaller than the 1/1.8" size used in most digital cameras, the F10. This latter sensor was later cancelled in favor of the F19 - a slightly higher resolution 1.5 megapixel sensor with a standard size of 1/1.8".

In the year or more since X3's announcement, no products have been unveiled using these lower-resolution sensors, which are targetted squarely at the consumer digicam market. Last November, Foveon signed up Alternative Vision Corp. as its first Value Added Reseller, but the Sigma SD9 has remained the only X3-based product on the market.

Hopefully the integration of X3 into National's sensor portfolio (which currently consists entirely of CMOS imagers, mostly at VGA-resolution or below), we'll see a greater push to get Foveon's technology into the marketplace. National undoubtedly has far more sales resources to devote to the technology, so this could turn out to be big news for Foveon!

Original Source Press Release:


License expands market reach of Foveon X3 technology

Santa Clara, CA (March 10, 2003) - Foveon, Inc., a technology leader in high-quality digital photography, announced today a license agreement for the manufacture and distribution of Foveon's highly acclaimed X3 image sensor technology to National Semiconductor. The agreement expands Foveon's market reach for the Foveon X3 and related technologies.

"Foveon has developed a large portfolio of image sensor products and image capture technologies that we are bringing to market through partners. Through National's worldwide sales and marketing organization we will see the accelerated adoption of X3 based products in key markets," said Jim Lau, president and CEO of Foveon, Inc.

Foveon has gained industry wide recognition in digital photography as a leader in the development of image sensor technologies for digital cameras. The most recent innovation by Foveon is the Foveon X3 image sensor, the world's first full-color image sensor to capture red, green and blue light at every location in the image plane. The image sensor utilizes Foveon X3 Silicon Color Filter technology, which leverages the fact that silicon absorbs different wavelengths of light at different depths. The technology uses the placement of photodetectors at different depths within the silicon to detect blue, green or red light.

"Foveon's X3 technology fundamentally changes the way that image capture devices are designed," said Brian L. Halla, National's chairman, president and CEO. "We look forward to incorporating Foveon's world-class image sensor technology into National Semiconductor's portfolio of imaging products for our customers."

About Foveon
Since its founding in 1997, the company is focused on the development of image capture technologies and products for digital cameras that enable new system capabilities and higher levels of image quality not previously possible with today's CCD technology. The breakthrough Foveon X3 full-color image sensor is currently shipping in the Sigma SD9 digital SLR camera. Foveon is a privately held company. Investors include: National Semiconductor Inc., Synaptics Inc., New Enterprise Associates and Franklin Templeton Investments. Additional information is available on the World Wide Web at www.foveon.com.

About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor (NYSE:NSM) is the premier analog company driving the information age. Combining real-world analog and state-of-the-art digital technology, the company is focused on analog-based semiconductor products, which include stand-alone devices and subsystems in the areas of power management, imaging, display drivers, audio, amplifiers and data conversion. The company targets key markets such as wireless, displays, information infrastructure and a broad range of portable applications. With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, National reported sales of $1.5 billion for its most recent fiscal year. Additional company and product information is available on the World Wide Web at www.national.com.

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