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Author Topic: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?  (Read 20737 times)

sjprg

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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #105 on: July 21, 2013, 09:18:01 AM »
My contention is that Canon has allways been about "good enough". Their policy has never really pushed the envelope of the state of the art, only just enough to keep ahead of the completion. At 500nm the current requirements from the battery are many times the requirements of 22nm. one example of the problem is their choice of ADCs being current hogs and slow. Look at the specs of a modern bit slice ADC and compare. By going to say 32nm they could use the extra current to produce high speed 16 bit ADCs which would give a decent range of bits to the bottom end and solve some of the shot noise problems. The slow scans they use contribute to the need for AA filters, also they can't scan the ADCs is a single pass. This is just of the places they could improve the "state of the art". another example is "what is a Digic". They won't publish the specs of the processor, probably with good reason as it is dismally slow from the standpoint of modern processors. Sony is the first manufacture to begin the break with the old technology and look at new ways to use the knowledge gained by the semiconductor industry to implement things. If they put the technology from a smartphone into the camera they would have a tremendous improvement. If they don't get off their duff they will go the way of Kodak.

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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #105 on: July 21, 2013, 09:18:01 AM »

jrista

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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #106 on: July 21, 2013, 11:38:44 AM »
My contention is that Canon has allways been about "good enough". Their policy has never really pushed the envelope of the state of the art, only just enough to keep ahead of the completion. At 500nm the current requirements from the battery are many times the requirements of 22nm. one example of the problem is their choice of ADCs being current hogs and slow. Look at the specs of a modern bit slice ADC and compare. By going to say 32nm they could use the extra current to produce high speed 16 bit ADCs which would give a decent range of bits to the bottom end and solve some of the shot noise problems. The slow scans they use contribute to the need for AA filters, also they can't scan the ADCs is a single pass. This is just of the places they could improve the "state of the art". another example is "what is a Digic". They won't publish the specs of the processor, probably with good reason as it is dismally slow from the standpoint of modern processors. Sony is the first manufacture to begin the break with the old technology and look at new ways to use the knowledge gained by the semiconductor industry to implement things. If they put the technology from a smartphone into the camera they would have a tremendous improvement. If they don't get off their duff they will go the way of Kodak.

Regarding your first two sentences, I greatly dispute that. If you've only been on the scene for about four years, then that my seem to be true. On the contrary, however, Canon was the cutting edge for quite some time. They were the SOLE company providing FF sensors for years, over several generations of cameras (5Dc, 1DsIII, 5DII), and during that time, Canon cameras offered top end IQ.

The "Competitors" are really just Sony, as Sony is the only other manufacturer making large form factor sensors. Sony came along, dropped a few tens of billions into fabrication facilities (to their great detriment, as they have excessive debt and their electronics division is hemorrhaging money by the billions), R&D, and started pumping out the sensors that EVERYONE ELSE today uses. That includes Exmor and Exmor RS, which include a rather sudden and significant leap forward in readout technology (which is patented, and is certainly going to have an effect on competition for a while.) The innovations in Exmor also includes a process shrink to 180nm that allow Sony to pack a lot more logic onto the same die the sensor itself is on, which is something Canon could probably do...if they were willing to spend the billions of dollars necessary to create a 300mm wafer 180nm fab.

I would also point out that no one is actually using a 22nm process for sensors. The current cutting edge is around 65nm for 1.1µm pixel sensors. The next stop is 0.9µm (900nm) pixel sensors, however expectations are that a 65nm process will still be used for those, as such sensors are now almost universally manufactured on a BSI process. The next step down would be in the realm of 45nm, however to date (based on patent research, ChipWorks papers, and internet searches) it does not appear as though anyone (including Sony, Toshiba, and Aptina) have moved to a 45nm CIS process in any capacity.

I would further point out that 90% of the sensor innovations in the marketplace are applied to small form factor sensors...P&S cameras, smartphone cameras, maybe a few bridge cameras here and there. Such sensors are fast approaching hard limits. At 900nm, pixels are already too small for near-infrared light. The next stop would be 0.7µm or 700nm pixels...at which point, you are already going to be filtering some red light simply due to the size of the pixel...they are getting smaller than the wavelengths of light they are supposed to be sensitive to. I don't think we will ever see a 0.5µm or 500nm sensor...sensitivity to red, orange, and yellow light would be extremely low or non existent.

I think the innovations required to support such small pixels are going to begin "traveling back up the stack". The notion that a BSI design is useless for larger pixels is only true if you are already working at the smallest process level...65nm. With large gate sizes, a BSI design could be quite useful for APS-C and FF sensors, and wouldn't require the investment of billions into new sensor fabrication plants. Other innovations that could be applied to large sensors include light pipes, more efficient metals for wiring (i.e. Cu), color splitting, multi-layer micro lenses, etc. Most of these Canon has already demonstrated in their 200mm wafer fabs, so they have the technology...it's just a matter of applying it.

As for DIGIC, I'm not sure what your complaint is. Each DIGIC 5+ chip is capable of processing at least 250mb/s, and the dual DIGIC setups process 500mb/s. That has allowed Canon to achieve the highest stills frame rate in the industry at 14fps (something I've not seen from any other DSLR manufacturer to date...hell, even 12fps is unmatched.) These dedicated image processors are actually very fast, much faster at their DEDICATED tasks than a general purpose CPU would be. They are more akin to a GPU, albeit at a much smaller die size and with much lower power requirements.
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sjprg

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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #107 on: July 24, 2013, 02:20:27 PM »
I have been around in electronics since 1954 and in cameras since 1941. (Kodak Brownie LOL, than to 4X5) and I was not speaking of the sensor NM, I was speaking of the Digic and the rest of the processor components. I have done a lot of work with very low light IR sensors working in pitch black to detect semiconductor error caused IR radiation. I was using 2Ghz ADCs in 1970 and while I don't know the details of Canon's technology if you read Photonomics you can see where Canon is way behind in technology. Sony seems to be the only company tending to push the state of the art, and if they are losing money it is because they are probably looking at the long term returns. Besides we are speaking of camera technology, not business or economics. Canon probably has the smarts to advance the art, but not the will to do so. As an aside why is NASA using Nikons?
WOW!  :o Each DIGIC 5+ chip is capable of processing at least 250mb/s, and the dual DIGIC setups process 500mb/s.  :-X ; And my I7-3770K processes at 4Ghz. @ 32nm
 

Drizzt321

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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #108 on: July 24, 2013, 03:16:14 PM »
I have been around in electronics since 1954 and in cameras since 1941. (Kodak Brownie LOL, than to 4X5) and I was not speaking of the sensor NM, I was speaking of the Digic and the rest of the processor components. I have done a lot of work with very low light IR sensors working in pitch black to detect semiconductor error caused IR radiation. I was using 2Ghz ADCs in 1970 and while I don't know the details of Canon's technology if you read Photonomics you can see where Canon is way behind in technology. Sony seems to be the only company tending to push the state of the art, and if they are losing money it is because they are probably looking at the long term returns. Besides we are speaking of camera technology, not business or economics. Canon probably has the smarts to advance the art, but not the will to do so. As an aside why is NASA using Nikons?
WOW!  :o Each DIGIC 5+ chip is capable of processing at least 250mb/s, and the dual DIGIC setups process 500mb/s.  :-X ; And my I7-3770K processes at 4Ghz. @ 32nm


And you'r i7-3770K uses how much power and produces how much heat? :P  Now if you compare a DIGIC 5+ to what's in your phone/tablet, that might be a closer comparison because they operate in more similar of a power/heat envelope.
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jrista

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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #109 on: July 24, 2013, 03:22:09 PM »
WOW!  :o Each DIGIC 5+ chip is capable of processing at least 250mb/s, and the dual DIGIC setups process 500mb/s.  :-X ; And my I7-3770K processes at 4Ghz. @ 32nm

LOL

Come now, comparing an embedded DSP to a desktop CPU is ridiculous. At the moment, DIGIC 5+/6 are some of the fastest in the digital camera world. If you really want to compare apples to chickpeas, we could get into how a dedicated desktop GPU can push 300000mb/s...but that would be comparing apples to chickpeas...
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Skulker

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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #110 on: July 24, 2013, 05:59:18 PM »
Im not very interested of what you think   when I have a dialog with Eric Fossum, Emil Martinec, BOBn2, John Sheehy  and several others about the benefits of BSI  at Dpreview  years back and also private

Well...good to see your keeping the culture of obfuscation and misinformation alive.  ::) Good day, Mikael.

The name dropping is a nice touch :-)

yes it is, especially when the active cmosen father discuss facts surrounding the BSI vs. FSI and not like here where people not can  distinguish between facts and their own factual errors  about for example  BSI and the  potential benefits

are you talking about your own  factual errors?

If you like to keep things "private" how come you put up so much rubbish

I hope you don't think that we believe  for one moment that you in the real world that you actually know these people and have the discussions you claim.

sjprg

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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #111 on: July 24, 2013, 07:02:05 PM »
"At the moment, DIGIC 5+/6 are some of the fastest in the digital camera world."

@500nm, just think how much faster they would be @ 22nm. Now we are talking chickpeas to chickpeas.
 If you are going to scale down from 500nm. Why not go all the way to 22? why stop in between.

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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #111 on: July 24, 2013, 07:02:05 PM »

Drizzt321

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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #112 on: July 24, 2013, 07:15:47 PM »
"At the moment, DIGIC 5+/6 are some of the fastest in the digital camera world."

@500nm, just think how much faster they would be @ 22nm. Now we are talking chickpeas to chickpeas.
 If you are going to scale down from 500nm. Why not go all the way to 22? why stop in between.

Simply reducing the size of the transistors doesn't necessarily increase the 'speed'. Also, I doubt the DIGICs are built off of 500nm process. They are probably done on standard processor fab at reasonably modern process. Smaller _processor_ transistor sizes (plus materials, structure, design) can give you a variety of benefits. Some are power savings, power efficiency (wok done per amount of power), sheer CPU power (amount of work done per cycle), clock speed (number of cycles per second), and physical die size which relates to amount of space needed on the circuit board(s).

And the reason not to go straight down to 22nm is it's a giant leap in technology and experience. Probably only one of the really big boy fabs or Intel has enough experience to maybe do that, and even there they'd probably do it in a couple of steps. Or switch over very slowly.
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jrista

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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #113 on: July 24, 2013, 07:19:42 PM »
"At the moment, DIGIC 5+/6 are some of the fastest in the digital camera world."

@500nm, just think how much faster they would be @ 22nm. Now we are talking chickpeas to chickpeas.
 If you are going to scale down from 500nm. Why not go all the way to 22? why stop in between.

Canon's DIGIC 5+ was actually partner-fabricated with Texas Instruments, I believe. It is on a MUCH smaller process than 500nm. The 500nm process is only used for their sensors, which they manufacture themselves. Their DSPs have been manufactured on much smaller processes for a while...I believe Canon themselves is more than capable of manufacturing at 65nm. I believe their latest DIGIC chips are 32nm, maybe smaller. Chipworks has a couple analyses of them (I think...I'll find the links.)
« Last Edit: July 24, 2013, 07:27:30 PM by jrista »
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jrista

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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #114 on: July 24, 2013, 07:35:25 PM »
I can't find anything from ChipWorks that doesn't cost a hefty penny. I did find this article that determined the DIGIC 4 was a 65nm part:

http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/english/NEWS_EN/20090218/165866/

Additionally, the DIGIC 3, a very old part at this point, was manufactured on a 130nm process:

http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/english/NEWS_EN/20090218/165867/

Canon has been using far smaller and more efficient manufacturing processes for their DIGIC chips for quite some time. The 500nm process is just an oddball thing that has apparently permanently attached itself to Canon's in-house CIS products. Aside from some assumptions about it being less costly and still effective (from a "consumers are still quite happy to buy their products" standpoint), I don't think anyone really knows why they are still using such an inefficient manufacturing process.

I would be willing to bet DIGIC 5 and 6 are manufactured on at least a 32nm process. I am not sure if they have moved to 22nm...that is fairly cutting edge at the moment, and extremely costly, so I am a bit doubtful. I don't suspect we'll see anything at 22nm or 14nm in any Canon CMOS device for quite some time.
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Re: Still no news about a Canon shift in sensor fabrication?
« Reply #114 on: July 24, 2013, 07:35:25 PM »