Fifteen years ago (at least!) we bought an HP laptop for our
home and they generously threw in a digital camera. That was the first digital
camera we ever had. What a revelation it was to take pictures as long as your
heart desired and delete the lousy ones.
The downside? The image sensor was just 2 megapixels (MP). Color
clarity was poor and almost every image was washed out, but we still loved it.
Today, of course, you can get digital SLR cameras with 20 MP and excellent
imagers embedded in your laptop screen for webcams and in your mobile phones for "selfies."
The quality is astonishing. But more is coming, as it always
will in our industry. But just what?
In the end, "it's about the pixels," to quote Marty
Agan, director of engineering with Samsung Semiconductor. Agan and his
colleague, senior marketing manager Justin Ging, woke up one morning, donned
the same-colored shirts, and came down to the palatial Unhinged TV studios to talk
tech, specifically image-sensor technology.
One of the obvious questions to pose was "why should we care
when today's image quality is astounding" (and the file sizes being captured is
straining our memory cards)?
image sensors will have better quality, be better at low light in darker
environments; they're faster, have burst capture, (good) slow motion and also have less power consumption."
Agan said there are four key areas engineers need to
consider when specing an image sensor in a mobile design:
Full well capacity (The amount of photons an
individual pixel can handle before saturation before they're converted to
And the pair expounded on an interesting Samsung
technology called Isocell being rolled out that promises to make image
capture in mobile devices even more eye-catching.
Check out our conversation about all this and more:
--Unhinged: Alberto on Cyber-Physical Systems, 25 years in EDA
--Unhinged: Gary Smith Calls EDA, Tech Media on the Carpet
--25th Anniversary: Hogan on EDA History and Three Little Words