Dialog Semiconductor Acquires CMOS Imaging Business from Sarnoff Corp.

Reprinted from a Digital Semiconductor press release:

KIRCHHEIM, Germany and TECK-NABERN, Germany, July 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Dialog Semiconductor Plc, today announced that it has acquired the CMOS imaging business and associated CMOS Active Pixel Sensor (APS) patent portfolio from the New Jersey, USA based Sarnoff Corporation, the research and development institute formerly known as RCA Laboratories. The two companies will partner for long term development of imaging technology and Sarnoff will continue its CMOS business in advanced imaging for medical, government and low volume applications.

Effective immediately, the new technology extends Dialog’s product portfolio. Its power management and audio chipsets are already established in mobile phones, and now Dialog can offer advanced camera-on-a-chip technology as a highvolume fabless CMOS imaging company. As part of the agreement, a core team from Sarnoff is designated to transfer and implement the technology at Dialog. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Commenting on the significance of the acquisition, Roland Pudelko, CEO & President of Dialog Semiconductor, said, “The advantage to our customers is that we will own the key element which helps to drive down the cost and power consumption of camera modules for high volume markets”.

Sarnoff’s CEO, Dr. Satyam Cherukuri said “We are very excited about combining Dialog’s excellent design, manufacturing and marketing expertise along with our advanced design technology which together will make a competitive, world class imaging business.”

Sarnoff is a pioneer in CMOS imaging, with an extensive patent portfolio, and several high volume image sensor design wins. Its CMOS active pixel sensor (APS) design, first used in radiography applications in 1998, is a key enabling technology which offers unique competitive advantages in low cost digital cameras, mobile phones and automotive applications.

Sensors using CMOS imaging technology are expected to replace the CCD sensors used in the majority of the current generation of digital still and motion cameras and in other equipment requiring image sensing and processing.

According to market research from iSuppli Corp’s market intelligence service, unit volumes of CMOS sensors are projected to grow from 18 million devices worth $367 million in 2001, to 72 million units worth more than $1 billion by 2005. On this basis, CMOS image sensors will represent about 47% of all image sensor devices shipped by 2005, up from 23% in 2001. Cahner’s In-Stat on the other hand believes the market is larger, forecasting 200 million units being shipped by 2005, representing about 80% of all image sensors shipped in that year.

Whatever the differences in the figures, some analysts in North America and Asia predict that one of the key applications driving the present growth of CMOS image sensors is mobile video image messaging, and in the long-term automotive applications will be a major driver of growth. In addition applications such as digital still cameras, dual mode cameras (still and video pictures) and web cameras, other areas that may benefit from the new technology acquired by Dialog include:

* Portable wireless imaging – when mobile users want to send realtime
video whilst on the move, the camera needs a wide dynamic range with
fast response times to capture a truly panoramic image.

* Automotive guidance and collision avoidance systems – using night vision
infrared illumination, it is possible to improve visibility with fast
and accurate responses.
* Finger print recognition
* Security and surveillance
* Digital watch cameras
* Personal digital assistants (PDAs) and notebooks
* Television and video conferencing

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