Chipworks Calls Samsung's Copper Image Sensor “Brilliant”

Reverse-engineering specialist Chipworks says Samsung's clever design scheme promises greater levels of transistor integration and system performance at lower cost.

OTTAWA, ON /PRNewswire/ -- Chipworks, a leader in reverse engineering and analysis of semiconductor chips and systems, announced its analysis of Samsung's new S5K3BAF 2 Mp CMOS image sensor (CIS) module. The device is the first CIS Chipworks has identified using a 130 nm copper process. The 'De-Metallized Zone' (DMZ) structure in the pixel array has eliminated the reflective liner layers, boosting the optical efficiency.

"Samsung's clever integration scheme effectively decouples the pixel array dielectric from the general dielectric stack. It has enabled the use of more levels of metal in the peripheral circuitry, and thus promises greater levels of transistor integration and system performance," says Gary Tomkins, manager of Technical Intelligence at Chipworks. "In addition, the 130 nm Cu process allows the use of MIM capacitors and a reduced overall thickness of the active pixel sensor (APS) structure, thus improving optical performance in a reduced pixel area. This is a brilliant implementation."

"Samsung fabricated this device on a 300mm Cu line, dropping their cost per chip substantially, whilst improving performance in a smaller die size," says Dick James, senior technology advisor at Chipworks. "While Samsung's innovative migration to a more advanced process generation may lead to more design wins for this industry leader, it will be interesting to observe if the apparent reduction in cost and higher levels of functionality will induce competitors such as Toshiba, Micron, TSMC and UMC to move their CIS fabrication to their Cu lines."

About Chipworks
Chipworks is an internationally recognized technical services company that analyzes the circuitry and physical composition of semiconductors and electronic systems. Our services include a wide range of applications in patent licensing support and competitive study. For over 13 years, Chipworks has successfully helped semiconductor and electronics organizations achieve their goals by supporting research and development efforts in strategic product development and patent portfolio management. Headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, the Company has offices around the world.

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