Tuesday, January 21, 2014

IMX174, Sony's ground-breaking global shutter CMOS sensor for machine vision

Without a shadow of a doubt, Sony is among the big names in the imaging sensor industry. In the dusk of 2013, it releases its first global shutter CMOS sensor IMX174. With its Exmor CMOS technology, it possess unprecedented dynamic range of more than 70dB as a CMOS sensor. Fix pattern noise that is commonly found on CMOS is basically non existence. The read noise is exceptionally low with only ~6 electrons. Coupled with its large pixel size of 5.68um, this sensor is extremely sensitive to light and it deliver up to a maximum of ~160fps at 1920 x 1200 resolutions.

In the past, KAI series sensor based cameras from Truesense have always been the obvious choice for most OEM equipment makers that have requirement less than 4 Mpx resolution in high speed (~50 to >100fps) defects inspection.  The wind of change is blowing, with the prevailing Exmor technology from IMX174 even the most recent KAI-2170 Truesense sensor is being eclipsed by this Sony technology .

Linear Dynamic Range (est)
Read Noise
12 e
6.83 e
Full Well
Pixel Size
7.4 x 7.4 um
5.68 x 5.68um
Maximum Quantum efficiency
52% @ 500nm
76% @525nm
1920 x 1080
1920 x 1200
Maximum frame rate
Quad Output @ 60 fps
8 LVDS Output @ ~160fps
Interline CCD; Progressive Scan
Exmor CMOS read out technology
68 pin PGA
118pin - LGA

It is unfortunate that current IMX174 sensor based cameras only comes with USB3.0 interface (Pointgrey). Market adaptation to this interface is still uncommon due to various reasons. Most OEM equipment makers at this moment still prefer the traditional Cameralink technology. 

Existing machine vision lighting and lens technology prove to be sufficient when working with Truesense based cameras. There is no pressing need at this moment to address the sensitivity or the dynamic range issues on existing equipment.

Also, if IMX174 serves only machine vision application it will do no justice to the specification it possess. The wide dynamic range in combination of its HD format, delineate a perfect blueprint for high end outdoor daylight camera.

IMX174 is an excellent product and the landscape for less than 4Mpx industry cameras will definitely be redefined. 

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