TSMC and Kodak promise new breed of digital camera chip

TSMC agreed to license Kodak technology to enable better imaging chips for digital cameras and camera phones.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the world's largest contract chip maker, agreed to license image technology from Eastman Kodak Co to use in a manufacturing process aimed at enabling a new breed of high-quality CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) image sensors, TSMC said.

Kodak and other companies that design CMOS image sensors, the chips that capture and process images inside digital cameras, will be able to use the new manufacturing technology for their products, TSMC said.

The chips are known as "CMOS" image sensors because they're made using the most common, highest-yielding chip production process, CMOS manufacturing. CMOS production makes the chips far less expensive, nearly a third the price, of a competing technology called CCD (charge-coupled device) image sensors, and the lower price has made them popular in mass-market digital cameras and camera phones. CCD image sensors are used in the highest quality cameras used by professionals, and are still considered better than CMOS image sensors.

Under the agreement, TSMC will license a number of key proprietary Kodak technologies, including four-transistor (4T) pixel and pinned photo-diode pixel architectures. These technologies are fundamental to the development of a new generation of CMOS image sensor devices that provide better image quality, performance and resolution, nearer to CCD image sensor quality.

The two companies did not specify the monetary terms of the licensing deal.

TSMC said it is the largest contract manufacturer of CMOS image sensors.

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