JULY1--Dialog Semiconductor GmbH (Kirchheim/Teck-Nabern, Germany ) has purchased the CMOS imaging business and associated CMOS active pixel sensor (APS) patent portfolio from Sarnoff Corp. (Princeton, NJ, USA ), the research and development institute formerly known as RCA Laboratories. The two companies will also partner for long-term development of imaging technology. In addition, Sarnoff will continue its CMOS business in advanced imaging for medical, government, and low-volume applications.
Dialog is now expected to offer camera-on-a-chip technology as a high-volume fabless CMOS imaging company. As part of the agreement, a core team from Sarnoff is slated to transfer and implement the technology at Dialog. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Roland Pudelko, chief executive officer and president of Dialog Semiconductor, says, "We will own the key element that will help to drive down the cost and power consumption of camera modules for high-volume markets."
Satyam Cherukuri, Sarnoff's chief executive officer, says, "We are combining Dialog's design, manufacturing, and marketing expertise with our advanced design technology, which together will make a competitive, world-class imaging business."
Sarnoff is a pioneer in CMOS imaging, with an extensive patent portfolio, and several high-volume image-sensor design wins. Its CMOS active pixel sensor design, first used in radiography applications in 1998, is a key technology that offers competitive advantages in low-cost digital cameras, mobile phones, and automotive applications.
Sensors using CMOS imaging technology are expected to replace the CCD sensors used in the majority of the current generation of digital still and motion cameras and in other equipment requiring image sensing and processing. According to market research from iSuppli Corp's market intelligence service, unit volumes of CMOS sensors are projected to grow from 18 million devices worth $367 million in 2001 to 72 million units worth more than $1 billion by 2005. On this basis, CMOS image sensors will represent about 47% of all image sensor devices shipped by 2005, up from 23% in 2001. Cahner's In-Stat on the other hand believes the market is larger, forecasting 200 million units being shipped by 2005, representing about 80% of all image sensors shipped in that year.