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The latest sensor market trends and product lineups at a glance: “The Image Sensor Briefing Session”

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A briefing session for Samsung Electronics’ image sensor technologies and the new ISOCELL Bright GM1 and GM2 image sensors was held on May 9th at the Taepyeongro Building in Jung-gu ward, Seoul. The briefing session introduced the latest sensor market trends in the age of the Quaternary Industrial Revolution, as well as Samsung Electronics’ newly evolved image sensor lineup to match these trends. We put together a summary of the most important information from the session. Vision for the sensor market, expected to grow 500% by 2030
▲ 삼성전자의 이미지센서 기술에 대해 설명하고 있는 삼성전자 S.LSI 사업부 Sensor사업팀장 박용인 부사장
▲ 삼성전자의 이미지센서 기술에 대해 설명하고 있는 삼성전자 S.LSI 사업부 Sensor사업팀장 박용인 부사장

▲ An image sensor technology briefing given by Vice President Park Yong In, leader of the Sensor Business Team in the S.LSI Business at Samsung Electronics

At the briefing, Samsung Electronics announced its “Semiconductor Vision 2030”. Under this vision, Samsung Electronics aims to become the world’s No. 1 not only in memory semiconductors, but in system semiconductors as well. Achieving this vision will involve some KRW 133 trillion investment into system semiconductors, and the hiring of some 15,000 new experts. Sensors are one of the most critical areas of the system semiconductor business. Current growth in the sensor market centers on the mobile sector. The use of sensors is set to increase drastically across various fields including automotive and medical from 2023 onward, when AI (artificial intelligence) and 5G technologies are expected to enter the mainstream. The sensor market in 2030 is expected to be approximately five times larger than the 2018 market. The “image sensor”: Your smartphone’s eyes

There are a variety of sensors. Of these, the image sensor works in the same way as the human eye. Just as the human eyes transmit visual information received through the eyes to the brain through the optic nerve, image sensors convert light into digital signals which are transmitted to a mobile processor (AP, application processor). Image sensors are used primarily in smartphone cameras and digital cameras. In recent years, many people have come to prefer smartphone cameras over conventional digital cameras due to better portability. Accordingly, the market for smartphone image sensors is exhibiting consistent growth. Smartphone camera trends and the evolution of image sensors
▲ 6,400만 화소부터 2,000만 화소까지 다양한 0.8㎛ 아이소셀 센서 제품 라인업.
▲ 6,400만 화소부터 2,000만 화소까지 다양한 0.8㎛ 아이소셀 센서 제품 라인업.

▲The diversified lineup of 0.8㎛ ISOCELL sensors, ranging from 64 million to 20 million pixels. Smaller than a nickel: Ultra-thin, ultra-small form factor image sensors

Image sensors are evolving in line with changing smartphone camera trends. Smartphone cameras have long surpassed DSLR cameras, and are evolving in the direction of true “as the eyes see” images. Rear-facing cameras on the latest smartphones are capable of high-resolution, high-sensitivity images on par with DSLR units, and come with high-power optical zoom and high-performance video capture. As for front-facing selfie cameras, consumer preference for slim bezels and “full screen displays” where the entire front face of a smartphone is occupied by the display means limited space to accommodate cameras. Smartphone image sensors have decreased in size as a result, and today “ultra-fine pixel” technologies, which allow ever-smaller chips to achieve high-resolution images, are what set the best image sensors apart. Samsung Electronics’ new image sensors are packed with the latest innovative technologies, including “ISOCELL PLUS” and “Tetrapixel”.
▲ 삼성전자의 이미지센서 핵심 기술 테트라셀(좌), 아이소셀(우)
▲ 삼성전자의 이미지센서 핵심 기술 테트라셀(좌), 아이소셀(우)

▲ Tetrapixel (left) and ISOCELL (right) are Samsung Electronics’ latest and most essential image sensor technologies.

Samsung Electronics’ newly revealed ultra-high pixel image sensors - the “ISOCELL Bright GW1 (64 million pixels)” and “ISOCELL Bright GM2 (48 million pixels)” - feature 0.8㎛ (micrometer (μm); one millionth of 1m) optimized for these latest smartphone trends. These new offerings incorporate Samsung Electronics’ “ISOCELL Plus” and “Tetrapixel” image sensor technologies. “ISOCELL Plus” is a technology that minimizes interference between pixels as sensors become smaller and smaller in size. By creating barriers between adjacent pixels, this revolutionary technology by Samsung Electronics significantly improves interference and loss of light as incident light energy is transmitted to the photodiode. Samsung’s “Tetrapixel” technology makes it possible to capture bright images in low-light environments. In bright settings, each pixel acts as an individual pixel to capture detailed images, while in low light, four pixels function as a single pixel, improving sensitivity.
▲ (좌측부터) 삼성전자 S.LSI사업부 권진현 상무, 박용인 부사장, 이제석 상무
▲ (좌측부터) 삼성전자 S.LSI사업부 권진현 상무, 박용인 부사장, 이제석 상무

▲ (Left to right) Vice President Kwon Jin Hyeon, Executive Vice President Park Yong In, and Vice President Lee Jae Seok of the Samsung Electronics S.LSI Business

These new releases signal the start of more aggressive effort on the part of Samsung Electronics to improve competitiveness in the image sensor sector. Executive Vice President Park Yong In of the Samsung Electronics S.LSI Business had this to say about the company’s future goals: “Semiconductors will progress by mimicking human functions; through sustained R&D, we will create semiconductors that benefit mankind and save lives.” That wraps up this update on the present and future of image sensor technology. As Quaternary Industrial Revolution technologies like AI and 5G enter the mainstream, you’ll be hearing more and more exciting news from the sensor market, in particular from Samsung Electronics. * Technological term of 'Tetrapixel' was updated in July 2022

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