Toshiba Develops a 1,300,000 Pixel CMOS Image Sensor for Applications Including High-Resolution Compact Digital Cameras

25 February, 1997

TOKYO -- Toshiba Corporation today announced the fabrication of a prototype 1,300,000 pixel complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor. High-resolution images captured by the new image sensor were successfully demonstrated.

The new device operates on a single 3.3V power supply, has an image area of 1,318 x 1,030 pixels, and meets the requirements of the 1,280 x 1,024 pixel SXGA format, currently the maximum resolution supported on monitors. CMOS devices use much less power than comparable charge-coupled devices (CCDs) as image sensors, and can potentially be made much smaller, making them ideal for future ultracompact digital cameras and portable videophones.

The Background and Objectives of the Development

The market for digital cameras is showing explosive growth and domestic demand is projected to reach two million units in 1997, with strong demand for cameras that will combine high resolution and low power consumption in a compact package. Again, miniaturization and higher resolutions promise to facilitate innovative future products such as personal computers with built-in cameras and portable videophones.

Toshiba foresaw this acceleration in the demand for smaller digital cameras with ever higher performance and committed to developing image sensors using CMOS technology, seeing this as the key to devices with advantages in size and performance over the current mainstream CCD image sensors. Toshiba's proprietary low-noise technology is a major breakthrough in making practical, high quality CMOS image sensors.

Advantages of CMOS Image Sensors over CCDs as Image Sensors

The sensor is formed with the same CMOS process technology as the peripheral circuitry required to operate it, so the device is much easier to integrate into a single system-on-chip, with the added advantage that the latest advances in fine design rule technology for DRAM, etc., can immediately be adopted, further increasing the density of integration and reducing the size far more readily than is possible with CCD image sensors.

CCD image sensors require three different voltages with separate power supplies to drive them, while CMOS devices only require a single power supply. This is a key factor in giving the CMOS device an enormous ten-fold advantage in reducing power consumption while minimizing the amount of chip real-estate devoted to power supplies.

Work designed to exploit the inherent advantages of the CMOS process in packing more pixels into smaller chips and in integrating peripheral circuitry into a single system-on-chip, will continue to develop image sensors suitable for future ultracompact cameras.

The new image sensor will be demonstrated at Tomorrow 21, the exhibition of Toshiba technologies to be held at the Tokyo International Forum from March 4 to 9.

Major Specifications

Size Half inch
Number of pixels 1,318 x 1,030 (SXGA)
Cell size 5.6 x 5.6 microns square
Chip size 12 x 12 mm square
Process CMOS (0.6 micron rule)
Drive voltage 3.3V
Power consumption 30mW

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