Tuesday, September 20, 2005

SEMICONDUCTOR INSIGHTS AWARDS: Semiconductor Insights (SI), located near Ottowa, Ontario, analyzes a thousand different devices each year from the world's most innovative microelectronics companies. Every year, the analysts identify certain devices that significantly change the performance/cost equation of its segment with a new design or process innovation.

In light of this analysis, SI has developed and sponsored the "Insight Awards" together with Semico. Semico provides a market view of the return winners will derive from their innovations.

SI's 2005 Insight Awards recognize innovations in nine specific categories — Non-Volatile Memory, DRAM, MP3 Players, Handsets, Image Sensors, Process Technology, Logic-Mixed Signal, RF IC's, and RF Architecture.

To date, the following winners have been announced:

Most Innovative Non-Volatile Memory: Toshiba 4Gb MLC 90nm NAND Flash

Most Innovative DRAM: Samsung 90nm 512Mb DDR2 ("C" Rev) SDRAM

Best MP3 Player: iRiver H10 5GB

Today, SI announced that it has awarded Micron's 2-Megapixel CMOS Image Sensor the 2005 Insight Award for "Most Innovative Image Sensor." According to SI, Micron is the first to commercialize a 2.5T design by sharing pixel transistors between adjacent pixels. In other words, the term "2.5T" refers to 5 MOS transistors being shared between two photodiodes, or "2.5 transistors" per photodiode. Sharing significantly increases the fill factor over traditional 4T designs. It allows pixels to be significantly smaller and still meet the required signal-to-noise levels.

Also the MT9D011 uses a shared floating diffusion design typical of the Micron CMOS image sensors. With the help of this design and the integration of the PiP capacitor onto the source follower gate, Micron was able to reduce the pixel cell size from 3.2 x 3.2 microns to 2.8 x 2.8 microns, resulting in a 40% fill factor. High fill factors are extremely important for CMOS sensors to completely displace CCD technology. Improving the fill factor for an active pixel structure like CMOS means reducing transistor count at each site.

More information can be found here.

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