TSMC Leads Industry With First Volume Production of 0.35-Micron CMOS Image Sensor Technology

HSIN-CHU, Taiwan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 15, 2000-- Lower Power, Less Expensive Alternative to CCDs Features Color Filter and Microlens for Single-Chip Cameras

Responding to fast-growing market opportunities, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (NYSE: TSM) today announced that it is the first foundry to produce 0.35-micron CMOS image sensor technology in volume. TSMC's image sensor technology enables system-on-chip (SOC) functionality for a broad range of applications, including digital video cameras for Internet-enabled PCs. TSMC is currently producing CMOS image sensors at an output rate of more than 5,000 six-inch wafers per month.

Spurred by volume pricing and rapid chip integration, semiconductor revenues for PC cameras are projected to grow five-fold by 2002, and by 2003 should reach $1 billion in sales, according to market research firm Cahners In-Stat Group. By 2002, Cahners In-Stat forecasts, most PC cameras will be based on a single-chip solution, thereby reducing system size and manufacturing cost. Other CMOS image sensor-based applications include digital television, toys, security systems, and small cameras embedded in laptop PCs and hand-held devices.

"TSMC is the first IC foundry to provide fabless semiconductor companies and IDMs (integrated device manufacturers) with the capability to build a complete camera-on-a-chip," said Edward Chen, TSMC's director of special technology product marketing. "For image sensor production," Chen explained, "CMOS wins hands down over CCD technology. CMOS offers lower power (a plus for portable systems), lower cost, and much higher fab capacity because it's the dominant IC process worldwide."

One TSMC customer at the forefront of image sensor technology is OmniVision Technologies, Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., which is a leading supplier of advanced, single-chip CMOS cameras-on-a-chip for a broad range of video-based applications. Using TSMC as its IC foundry, OmniVision offers the OV7600 series of completely programmable digital imaging devices with a VGA (video graphic array) resolution image array size of 640x480 pixels. The OV7600 combines the sensor array with an on-chip A/D converter that delivers 8-bit and 16-bit parallel digital output.

"We provide our image sensor customers with proven robust CMOS technology, SPICE models, macrocell IP from our ASIC libraries, suggested guidelines for their image sensor designs, and fast turnaround time," TSMC's Chen said. "Furthermore, our customers receive significant value added from our Agilent 94000IP-based optical testing regimen for yield enhancement and shortened development time, as well as our advanced color filter and microlens technologies."


TSMC manufactures image sensors with a red-green-blue color filter, offering high performance and high quality with low cost.

"The real world is color, not black-and-white," Chen said, "and the integrated color filter allows selective pass-through of light so that the silicon actually `sees' and processes all the colors in the spectrum. In fact, we have a procedure that fine-tunes the color process, making it very adaptive and attractive."

A microlens sits on top of the color filter to enhance optical sensitivity. With a camcorder, for example, the microlens allows the user to pick up a good quality image in low light.

"The bottom line," Chen said, "is that such optical flexibility can command a better selling price for the end-product, such as today's proliferating PC cameras."


Image sensors are currently in volume production using TSMC's 0.35-micron, 0.5-micron, 0.6-micron and 0.8-micron process technologies. TSMC's process roadmap calls for migration to a 0.25-micron process