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Kodak accelerates move into image sensor market

By dpreview staff on Jul 12, 2005 at 10:35 GMT

In further evidence of its commitment to digital, Eastman Kodak has announced plans to accelerate moves into the CMOS image sensor market after news of a manufacturing alliance with IBM. The recently available three and five megapixel CIS devices are intended for mass market products such as camera phones and digital cameras. The KODAK KAC-3100 and KAC-5000 Image Sensors incorporate Kodak PIXELUX technology, which is designed to improve image quality and performance, and offer more features than other CMOS-based image sensors on the market.

Press Release:

Kodak Accelerates Move into Image Sensor Market for Consumer Devices

Company Delivers New Products, Forms New Alliances to Advance Imaging Capabilities for Camera Phones and Digital Cameras

ROCHESTER, N.Y., July 11 -- Eastman Kodak Company reached another milestone in its digital growth strategy with the announcement of innovative new image sensors for mass-market products such as camera phones and digital still cameras. The company also announced important new alliances that will extend its reach in the market for image sensors.

The company announced availability of the first CMOS image sensor (CIS) devices to arise from its manufacturing alliance with IBM, as well as development of a reference design that incorporates these new image sensors with multimedia processors from Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI). Kodak also announced an agreement to license key CIS manufacturing technologies to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), the world’s largest dedicated semiconductor foundry. A critical component in any digital imaging device, image sensors act as the “eye” of a digital camera by converting light into electric charges to begin the capture process.

“These announcements are tremendous examples of the speed with which Kodak is moving to grow its digitally oriented businesses,” said Mary Jane Hellyar, President, Display & Components, and Senior Vice President, Eastman Kodak Company. “We are very excited that our manufacturing alliance with IBM is now yielding its first products, and that we now are expanding our participation in this industry through new alliances with other leaders, such as TI and TSMC. The market for image sensors used in consumer devices is very exciting, and we will continue to move quickly to deploy our core competencies in image science and sensor research to participate strongly in these high-volume consumer applications.”

Kodak’s new three- and five- megapixel CIS devices -- the KODAK KAC-3100 and KAC-5000 Image Sensors -- are targeted to camera phone and consumer DSC and DVC applications. Both sensors incorporate KODAK PIXELUX technology, a proprietary design that offers manufacturers of consumer digital imaging devices improved image quality, higher performance, and more features than other CMOS-based image sensors on the market. The new products are manufactured at IBM’s Burlington, VT, plant as part of the manufacturing collaboration announced last year between Kodak and IBM.

Today’s news demonstrates Kodak’s continued progress as a leading mass-market supplier of next-generation CIS devices that offer the image quality currently available from mainstream CCD sensors, while leveraging the power, integration, and cost benefits traditionally associated with CMOS technology. CIS devices currently on the market often fall short of the image quality consumers have come to expect from digital products based on traditional CCD image sensors. PIXELUX technology permits the manufacture of CIS pixels that approach the size of the smallest CCD pixels offered today, while providing lower noise and improved photosensitivity for use under low light conditions.

To help facilitate the design of next-generation mobile imaging devices, Kodak has worked with Texas Instruments to develop a reference design that incorporates these new image sensors with OMAP™ 2 application processors from TI, a platform which delivers a foundation for mobile device manufacturers to provide the latest in mobile entertainment, productivity, and imaging applications on “All-in-One” mobile entertainment devices. This combination will allow manufacturers to leverage TI’s high-performance, power-efficient OMAP 2 platform with Kodak’s leading pixel technology to bring new multimedia-rich devices to market.

Kodak also announced an agreement with TSMC that licenses key KODAK technologies used in the manufacture of high-quality CIS devices. Under the agreement, TSMC will be licensed to manufacture CIS devices using a variety of KODAK manufacturing technologies that are fundamental to improving image quality, performance and resolution. The manufacturing process licensed under this agreement will be utilized by Kodak as well as other sensor design firms under the terms of the agreement. Other terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.

“Taken as a whole, today’s announcements further demonstrate Kodak’s commitment to participate in high-growth consumer markets as a major components supplier,” said Mary Jane Hellyar. “As a leader in the development of advanced Intellectual Property for image sensor design, Kodak will continue to take active steps and form key alliances to deploy this knowledge and experience into unique products for the market. The ultimate winner here will be the consumer, who can look forward to new devices that take advantage of this compelling technology.”

The KAC-3100 and KAC-5000 are the latest addition to Kodak’s extensive and growing line of image sensors, delivering the core technology that drives the most advanced developments in digital imaging applications. A pioneer in image sensing, Kodak develops, manufactures, and markets both CCD and CMOS image sensors for applications ranging from satellite and medical imaging applications to digital cameras and machine vision products.

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