Canon 7d-ii rumor: multi-layer sensor a'la Foveon

Started Aug 16, 2014 | Discussions thread
Truman Prevatt
Truman Prevatt Veteran Member • Posts: 8,167
Re: A rumor for about ten years now...

I worked for Fairchild Camera and Instrument for a period.  Fairchild Semiconductor was part of FCI and we were bought by Schlumberger shortly before I started.  Schlumberger was developing advanced down hole sensor packages for more accurate oil well logging for its bread and butter business.  Down an oil well is a very brutal environment and they could not get sensors that would hold up to one use much less multiple.  They though that owning their own semiconductor facility would allow them to solve that and at the time Fairchild semi was flying high ( early 80's).

It worked well for a time but the semiconductor technology and business at that time moved at warp speed.  Also the semiconductor technology can be dated quickly.  That is what happened in Schlumberger's grand experiment.  They eventually sold the fab to National Semi (if memory recalls) while spinning off the imaging portion forming Fairchild Imaging and went back to a similar approach as Nikon - have a good design team working with multiple suppliers to specify you requirements and chose the best candidate technology to realize that specification.  From what I read, Nikon uses the Exmoor technology but they designed the specific chip for the D800/D800E and also with the D810 which is slightly different than the D800E.

From what I read, Canon got caught in the same dilemma where the fab gave them a short term advantage but didn't produce sufficient volume and revenue to allow them to invest in emerging processes.  It is a brutal business.  Also I'm not certain that the Canon lithography has kept track of the competitors - one being Nikon.  About 7 years ago you heard all sorts of complaints on the Nikon forums that Nikon was doomed since Canon owned its own fab facility.  It seems that the fab may have become a millstone around Canon's neck - at least in the FF market.

l_d_allan wrote:

To me, it gets confusing to keep track of analog and digital "feature lines", but I think Sony has access to fabs that have analog feature lines of 180 nm. That's a huge advantage, and perhaps explains the performance of the Exmor sensor. With wafer dies, the size is a factor of the square of the feature size, so a reduction by 50% allows 4x more dies (once learning curve for yields is mature).

I'd guess the Canon 500nm fab was introduced at about the time-frame of the 5d2 introduction, when my impression is that Canon leap-frogged Nikon, Sony, etc. with the 5d2 and then the 7d.

Or not?

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