First 32Mpixel RGBC always-on image sensor for mobile phones

November 11, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
First 32Mpixel RGBC always-on image sensor for mobile phones
OmniVision’s OV32C sensor has low power modes for AI-enabled always-on designs 

OmniVision Technologies has launched a 32 megapixel (MP) image sensor in a compact 1/3.2-inch optical format (OF) for front-facing mobile phone “selfie” cameras.

RGBC technology is built into the OVC32 sensor for use in challenging lighting conditions and low power modes can help enable “always-on” designs using AI to automate many of the common tasks such as face detection and scanning QR codes.

“Image sensors for front facing ‘selfie’ cameras are expected to grow 4.7% CAGR over the next five years, with smartphone front camera image sensor revenues reaching US$4.4 billion by 20261,” said Pierre Cambou, principal analyst, Imaging at Yole Développement. “Stacking technology is giving more degree of freedom to image sensor designers to embed advanced pre-ISP algorithms; this could be a game changer for RGBC sensors by solving the difficulties of their non-Bayer arrangement. Adding ‘always-on’ smart capabilities to phone cameras will bring a new level of ergonomics and performance to the phone’s user interface.”

“Mobile phone users need the highest possible image quality and resolution from their cameras, but the design challenge is that there is very limited space for the front-facing camera module. Our new OV32C addresses this issue by providing 1/2.8-inch pixel size performance in a compact 1/3.2-inch OF,” said Arun Jayaseelan, staff marketing manager at OmniVision. “The OV32C is our first sensor for the mobile phone market to feature RGBC―providing a 50 percent boost in overall sensitivity to enhance low-light image quality. Additionally, we’ve reduced design complexity for OEMs with an on-chip RGBC-to-Bayer fusion algorithm, therefore, a separate RGBC processing unit isn’t required.” 

The OV32C is built on OmniVision’s 0.7µm PureCel Plus-S pixel technology that provides the ability to squeeze 32MP into a 1/3.2-inch OF. RGBC technology uses a 4-cell colour filter pattern with clear pixels and on-chip RGBC-to-Bayer fusion. It supports CPHY and DPHY interfaces and can output 15 frame rates per second (fps) at 32MP, or 30 fps at 8MP with on-chip fusion, for premium video and image quality. The OV32C also offers dual DOVDD support at 1.8 and 1.2 volts.  

Samples of the OV32C are available now.

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