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[CES 2023 Innovation Award Honoree] ISOCELL HP3, 200MP Image Sensor for Epic Details

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▲ Sungsoo Choi, Juhyun Ko, Seung-Chul Shin, and Myoungoh Ki from the left
Samsung’s latest design innovations in the ISOCELL HP3, a 200MP image sensor, enable the capturing of stunning images and video. The standout features of the sensor have made it a recipient of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 Innovation Award in the Digital Imaging and Photography category. Samsung continues to embrace the challenges that result in the development of industry leading technologies that enhance mobile photography experiences. Helping more consumers experience ultra-high resolution “Samsung developed 0.7μm pixels in 2019 and 0.64μm pixels in 2021. Building on its leadership in micropixel technology, Samsung has become the industry’s first to adopt 0.56μm pixels to deliver 200MP in a 1/1.4” optimal format, making ultra-high-definition photography more widely accessible,” said Seung-Chul Shin of the Sensor Architecture Team. The ISOCELL HP3 fully harnesses the power of its 0.56μm pixels through improved pixel technology. New DTI technology eliminates the walls between the photo diodes within four same-colored pixels. This structure allows the ISOCELL HP3 to capture more light information and increase the amount of light that can be stored. The advantage of ultra-high resolutions with ultra-fine pixels is not only the improved detail of the photo but also a wider range of zoom scale.
Enhanced Samsung ISOCELL HP3 pixel technology delivers more detailed photos.
Enhanced Samsung ISOCELL HP3 pixel technology delivers more detailed photos.
“Unlike with zoom lens for DSLRs, optical zoom in smartphone cameras works only for a single focal length. Although digital zoom has a wider zoom range, image quality is bound to deteriorate, unless ultra-high resolution support is available,” said Juhyun Ko, Vice President, Head of Sensor Architecture Team. “Samsung introduced 108MP for 3x lossless zoom in 2019 and 200MP for 4x lossless zoom in 2022, enabling a wider range of zoom scales, without compromising picture quality.” Super QPD for faster autofocus in ultra-fine pixels It was already a big challenge to make pixels smaller themselves, but the real problem was implementing excellent autofocus for these tiny pixels.
Samsung's Super QPD for faster autofocus in ultra-fine pixels
Samsung's Super QPD for faster autofocus in ultra-fine pixels
“Zooming in without losing image quality requires exceptional autofocus capabilities. Previously, Dual Pixel technology with a 2PD structure was used. As Dual Pixel technology was not applicable to micro pixels sized below 1.0μm, Super QPD technology was introduced,” explained Ko. The ISOCELL HP3 with Super QPD technology uses every pixel on the sensor to detect phase. Super QPD uses a single lens over four-adjacent pixels to detect the phase differences in both horizontal and vertical directions. This enables quick and accurate autofocusing capabilities. Ultra-fine pixels enable better low light photography
Samsung's Tetrapixel for any lighting conditions
Samsung's Tetrapixel for any lighting conditions
Smaller pixel size was known to be disadvantageous for low light shooting. For better quality, the ISOCELL HP3 features an advanced pixel binning technology called Tetra2pixel that operates as a big pixel-like structure in low light conditions. With this technology, the ISOCELL HP3 works in three different modes to optimize for different light conditions. This includes 0.56μm 200MP and 1.12μm 50MP for enhanced details in bright lights, and 2.24μm 12.5MP for the dark environments. “A new algorithm was developed to enable the Super QPD technology in Tetra2pixel structure. The focus of R&D was to ensure the reliable deployment of these high-level technologies to the industry’s first 0.56μm pixels,” stated Shin. “Countless simulations and experiments were performed to optimize noise with a goal of improving image quality in low light conditions.” Delivering better smartphone images “A variety of HDR (High Dynamic Range) technologies were also integrated for lifelike photo quality even in complicated light conditions,” shared Myoungoh Ki from the Sensor Architecture Team. The ISOCELL HP3 amplifies the characteristics of HDR by featuring Staggered High Dynamic Range (HDR), which combines three images taken with different exposure times to form a final image. Additionally, Smart-ISO Pro(iDCG) technology, merges image information from two different charge-to-voltage conversion gains, which are electrons accumulated in pixels converted to voltage, to increase the dynamic range.
Trillions of color combinations with Samsung's smart-ISO Pro,  Samsung's Staggered HDR for a wider dynamic range
Trillions of color combinations with Samsung's smart-ISO Pro,  Samsung's Staggered HDR for a wider dynamic range
“In addition, the Smart-ISO Pro enables the sensor to express images in over 4 trillion colors with 14-bit color depth, 64 times more colors than 12-bit images. Furthermore, by supporting staggered HDR along with Smart-ISO Pro, the ISOCELL HP3 can switch between the two solutions depending on the shooting environment to produce high-quality HDR images,” stated Ki. Reasons for winning the CES Innovation Award Consumers demand image sensors that stay true to the basics and support fast autofocus and great low-light performances. “The ISOCELL HP3 satisfies consumer needs by offering all-pixel utilized autofocus through Super QPD technology and superb low-light performance via Tetra2pixel technology,” stated Sungsoo Choi of the CIS TD Team. “Notably, 0.56μm micro pixels enable a relatively small form factor, taking technological sophistication to a new level. Most importantly, it’s essential to making micro pixel technology available to more users in a cost-effective way.” “The development of the industry’s smallest 0.56μm pixels enables an image sensor to deliver 200 million pixel images,” said Shin. “I believe it was recognized as a step on the path to exceeding human vision for Semicon Humanoid.” Samsung’s plans for future sensor innovations “System LSI business plans to make more manufacturers adopt the 200MP image sensors as the standard form for flagship smartphone camera. And we also plans to develop sub-0.5μm pixels even outside of the high-end segment,” shared Ko. “In addition, further upgrades are planned through improved pixel performance and algorithms.” Reaching the capabilities of the ISOCELL HP3 has taken the expertise of the teams to create new innovations as each iteration of the sensor was developed. Samsung has been spearheading the development of pixel miniaturization with Super QPD autofocus technology and is also aiming to deploy 2PD structure-based micro pixel technology. Developing the ISOCELL HP3 was a challenging task that required a host of new technologies. Samsung is committed to continuing to innovate the mobile and sensor capabilities to help provide consumers with better and new experiences. “Enhancing consumer experiences is essential to stay relevant in the mobile and sensor markets, ” stated Ko. “I believe the entire team is proud of the fact that the ISOCELL HP3 marks a step forward in the right direction and helps provide better and new experiences to consumers.”

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