Samsung unveils smaller, more affordable 108-megapixel image sensor for smartphones

Samsung unveils smaller, more affordable 108-megapixel image sensor for smartphones

Samsung introduced new ISOCELL sensors, the main difference from existing Quad Bayer sensors is the pixel size of 0.7 microns versus the usual 0.8 microns. The new lineup will feature improved pixel technology with increased light sensitivity. The manufacturer decided not to waste time on trifles and introduced four new image sensors at once: 108-megapixel HM2, 64-megapixel GW3, 48-megapixel GM5 and 32-megapixel JD1. They will become available before the end of the year.

With a 0.1μm difference in horizontal and vertical pixel dimensions, Samsung’s latest image sensors are 15% smaller than 0.8μm sensors of the same resolution. Unfortunately, this means 15% less light. However, such sensors can reduce the height of the camera module by 10%, which is extremely important in the face of smartphone manufacturers striving to reduce thickness.

All new sensors, of course, use Samsung’s innovative ISOCELL Plus pixel isolation technology, specially optimized for 0.7-micron pixels. It uses a physical barrier to allow the microlens to direct more light onto the photodiodes. The result is improved color fidelity and improved light sensitivity, which improves the brightness and color saturation. And Smart-ISO technology selects the ideal conversion ratio for a variety of conditions. This allows you to select the optimal dynamic range and reduce noise.

As is customary today, all sensors use Quad Bayer technology (Tetracell in Samsung terminology): unlike conventional RGB sensors, in which pixels with different color filters are arranged in a mosaic, in Samsung Tetracell pixels with the same color filter are located next to each other in groups four at a time. In bright light, the sensor receives an image close to the declared resolution, and with a lack of light, adjacent pixels are combined into a 2 × 2 array and diodes of 1.4 microns are obtained with a resulting resolution four times lower, but with increased sensitivity. It is only worth noting that in the case of 108-megapixel HM2 we are talking about a 3 × 3 array and, accordingly, a drop in resolution by 9 times, to 27 megapixels.

But that’s not all: this year Samsung promises to introduce even more advanced products with a photodiode size of 0.7 microns. They will get the improved ISOCELL 2.0 pixel separation technology. It has further improved the structure of the walls between the cells, which has led to an increase in light sensitivity by up to 12% compared to current technology. That is, such 0.7-micron sensors will be close in quality and sensitivity to 0.8-microns based on ISOCELL Plus.

Let’s note some features of the sensors reported in the press release:

  • ISOCELL HM2 is the third 108MP image sensor from Samsung after the HMX and HM1. It is about 15% smaller (1/52 “) than its predecessors 0.8-micron and reduces the height of the camera module by 10%. The HM2 features Super PD technology – faster and more efficient autofocus based on phase detection. Supports 4K video recording. at 120 frames / s.
  • ISOCELL GW3 is a 64MP sensor (1 / 1.97 “) optimized for conventional devices. Its area is almost identical to Samsung’s 48MP 0.8μm image sensor. The GW3 is equipped with advanced Electronic Gyro Stabilization (EIS) and supports video recording up to 4K @ 60fps.
  • ISOCELL GM5 is a universal 48-megapixel (1 / 2.55) image sensor designed for use in telescopic or ultra-wide angle modules. When used in conjunction with the 5x optical zoom, the GM5 takes full advantage of the 0.7μm pixel size and minimizes camera bulge. GM5 supports high-speed Full-HD recording at 480 fps, improved HDR technology based on Tetracell (due to the operation of some of the sensors in high sensitivity mode, and some of them – low).
  • The ISOCELL JD1 is the industry’s smallest 32MP image sensor with a physical sensor size of 1 / 3.14 “, making it ideal for face-to-face cameras on slim smartphones. The height of the sensor is comparable to that of a 20MP sensor. 0.9 μm or 16MP 1.0 μm Like the GM5, the JD1 is one of the first ISOCELL sensors to offer Tetracell-based HDR.

Samsung ISOCELL HM2, GW3 and JD1 are currently in mass production, and GM5 samples are still undergoing testing. So we are waiting for the appearance of cheaper smartphones with 108-megapixel and 64-megapixel cameras.

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