A new CameraChip sensor from OmniVision may reshape the camera capabilities of lower-cost smarthphones.

 The OV5645 sensor from OmniVision.

The digital imaging company has introduced the OV5645, a system-on-chip (SOC), 5-megapixel, 1/4-inch CameraChip sensor that is less expensive to produce while delivering high-quality performance, including HD video capture at 1080p30 (or 720p60). Costs are minimized by eliminating the JPEG compressor and by allowing a second front-facing chip to rely on some of its circuitry to offer picture-in-picture functionality. This gives an incentive for manufacturers to double up on OmniVision sensors in future smartphone models.

Mass production begins in early 2013.

Update: Omnivision has also announced a new 8MP sensor as well. The OV8835 promises best-in-class pixel performance and enables full resolution high-speed photography at 30 frames per second and 1080p30 (or 720p60) HD video. Production will begin later this year.

Press release

Omnivision launches cost-optimized 1/4-inch 5-megapixel CameraChip sensor for mainstream mobile applications

OV5645 brings high-quality photography and HD video to low-cost handset markets

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — October 29, 2012 — OmniVision Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: OVTI), a leading developer of advanced digital imaging solutions, today introduced the OV5645, a system-on-chip (SOC), 5-megapixel CameraChipTM sensor that targets the exploding cost-sensitive segment of the mobile handset market. As the successor to OmniVision's very popular OV5640, the new OV5645 has retained only a MIPI port, eliminating both the bandwidth-limited DVP interface and the costly embedded JPEG compressor. The newly updated sensor thus saves costs by reducing significant amounts of silicon, yet maintains full compatibility with most baseband processors today. Additionally, with an embedded autofocus control with voice coil motor driver, the OV5645 offers further cost savings for manufacturers, making it a highly attractive alternative to other 5-megapixel sensors currently on the market.

“Industry analysts predict 5-megapixel image sensors will remain highly popular for mobile devices for the next few years. Consequently, there is an increased need for cost-effective 5-megapixel cameras that meet the requirements of mainstream mobile markets,” explained Per Rosdahl, senior product marketing manager at OmniVision. “The OV5645 SOC sensor provides handset manufacturers with a fully-featured yet extremely cost-effective solution that delivers the high-quality image capture and HD video currently required in the mainstream handset market. In addition, the OV5645’s increased CRA enables ultra-thin camera modules with z-heights of approximately 4 mm, which is a key requirement for many OEMs’ future products.”

The OV5645 also features a new picture-in-picture (PIP) architecture that offers an easy-to-implement, low-cost dual camera system solution for mobile handsets and smartphones. The feature is based on a master/slave configuration where a secondary camera (e.g., one based on the OV7965) can be connected to a master camera (OV5645). This feature enables PIP functionality on mobile devices without the need for an additional MIPI interface into the baseband processor. By utilizing this feature, manufacturers can

convert existing single-camera smartphone designs to dual camera systems without the need for more expensive baseband processors.

Built on OmniVision’s latest 1.4-micron OmniBSITM pixel architecture, the new OV5645 offers high performance 5-megapixel photography and 720p high definition (HD) video at 60 frames per second (FPS) and 1080p HD video at 30 FPS with complete user control over formatting and output data transfer. The sensor’s 720p HD video is captured in full field-of-view (FOV) with 2 x 2 binning, which doubles the sensitivity and improves the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Additionally, a unique post-binning, re-sampling filter function removes zigzag artifacts around slant edges and minimizes spatial artifacts to deliver even sharper, crisper color images.

The OV5645 comes in CSP and RW packaging options and is now available for sampling, with mass production expected to begin in the first quarter of 2013.