Speedy new sensors from Aptina and Toshiba will arrive in smartphones and cameras next year


posted Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 10:13 PM EDT

Aptina and Toshiba both recently announced speedy new image sensors that should begin appearing in imaging devices in the coming year.

Aptina's latest developments are the AR0835 and AR0835HS, a pair of 1/3.2"-type, 8-megapixel, backside illuminated CMOS sensors capable of full-resolution 16:9 readout at 60 frames per second. Since there's no pixel binning or cropping (beyond that used to achieve the aspect ratio), this allows camera designers to achieve full-resolution stills without interrupting video capture. It can also allow better video quality by downsampling from the higher resolution data to create the final video feed, presuming there's sufficient processing power in the camera to achieve this.

Both Aptina sensors have a 1.4 micron pixel size and offer 720p video capture using pixel binning at a rate of 120 fps, as well as an on-chip scaler that can reduce data rates to match the capabilities of a particular image coprocessor. The two differ in one critical area: the AR0835 is a drop-in replacement for the existing four-lane MIPI-based AR0833, while the AR0835HS uses a proprietary HpSPi interface that can accomodate up to 32 lanes.

The Aptina AR0835 has now entered mass production, while the AR0835HS is now sampling and slated for introduction using a 10x10mm CLCC package in the first quarter of next year.

Toshiba's new CMOS sensor, shown above right, is also backside illuminated but it's a significantly larger 1/2.3"-type. It has a high resolution of 20 megapixels, and despite a small pixel size of 1.2 microns, Toshiba says it has 15% greater well depth than its previous-generation 16-megapixel, 1.34-micron chip. According to Toshiba, the new TCM5115CL sensor offers the highest native resolution of any 1/2.3"-type sensor. The company says the chip can provide for 1080p video at a rate of 60 fps, and 720p video at 100 fps. Even at its full 20-megapixel resolution, data can be clocked off at an impressive 30 fps.

The Toshiba TCM5115CL is expected to begin sampling at the end of January, and mass production starts from August 2013.